Jacob, Class of 2014
Jacob was four years old when his father took a job on the OBI staff and they moved from Florida. “I have been here ever since,” Jacob said. When he was older, Jacob said, “I thought about going to live with my mom in Massachusetts, but it seemed like too big of a change. I was being successful at OBI. I had friends here, and I was doing well in cocurriculars and academics.”
Beginning in middle school, Jacob joined activities to fill his time and stretch his interests. He noted, “OBI never required me to work, but I cleaned bathrooms for two years, because I was bored after school.” He played baseball in grades 6-8 and later joined tennis, soccer and swimming.
Jacob never guessed that taking a small role in a play as an eighth grader would lead to his acceptance in the Governor’s School for the Arts (GSA) in 2012. “After my first play, I loved drama so much, because I had never had so much fun in all my life! Unlike the physical and mental stress of competitive sports, drama is relaxing. ... There’s no worrying over trying to be better than someone else. We all have our places, and we work together to create a story that makes people laugh or think about the world or themselves in a different way,” he said. Jacob was the leading male actor in eight OBI productions and received the Best Actor and Director’s Awards.
“I made all my friends through the programs and activities at OBI. Because of theater at OBI, I went to GSA, where I grew profoundly through the friendships, knowledge and excellence I saw there,” Jacob said.
Jacob explored his musical interest by taking guitar and piano classes. He performed guitar solos in talent shows, and he joined the student praise band.
In the Field Placement program this year, Jacob worked for two quarters as an assistant to the guitar teacher, tutoring beginning guitar students. Later, he worked for the choir and band teacher and noted, “I got to create a database for the music inventory. I would spend every day with my laptop and the music files. I like using what I know to make my work easier.”
Jacob became a Christian at the age of six. He estimates that he attended 1,200 chapel services over the last seven years. While he is ready for a more “normal” church routine, he noted, “Chapel helped to shape my understanding of Christianity and what I believe.”
Graduating as the valedictorian and a 2013 Kentucky Governor’s Scholar, Jacob took advanced placement classes at OBI, including two years of calculus. He said, “I feel like my math classes prepared me for college, and the English teachers taught us to think, read and write critically.”
Combining his talents in math and the arts, Jacob’s college of choice offers programs like game development, robotics and music technology. He said, “For me, problem-solving itself is not as enjoyable as the application of math and science to create something new, useful, or helpful. I’m looking for a creative combination between imagination and intellect.”
Reflecting on his years at Oneida, Jacob said, “The best part about OBI is the teachers and staff, their kids, small classes and the theater program. Many good people are here, and that’s what I’ll miss—the people.”
Taylor, Class of 2014
Shortly before Taylor was born, her parents moved from Colorado to join the faculty/staff of Oneida Baptist Institute. Taylor said, “As a ‘staff kid,’ I lived in modest staff housing with limited access to many things some teenagers take for granted, but growing up at a boarding school with students from all over was extremely rewarding because of the diversity. I had the opportunity to be friends with students from Korea, India, Ethiopia, China, Ghana and Cyprus!”
Oneida’s rural location made it easier for Taylor to participate in a wide variety of after-school activities beginning in middle school. She competed at the state level in two of her three seasons in cross country and in her second year of tennis. She played basketball for two seasons and was a member of the track and field team for four seasons. Taylor became a certified lifeguard as a senior.
As a member of the choir for three years and the vocal ensemble for the last two years, Taylor represented OBI in Kentucky Baptist churches on most Sundays from October to May. She sang with the All Festival regional honor choir for two years and the 2014 All-State Women’s Chorus.
Two years of piano class and playing the drums in the pep band rounded out her musical experience. Taylor also sang and played the piano with the student chapel worship team and served on the chapel sound crew.
Acting in eight school plays, Taylor received the Best Actress award, the Best Supporting Actress award and the Director’s Award. “Opportunities in fine arts at OBI really helped me to develop my talents,” she said.
Taylor started out as a page designer on the yearbook staff and was the head photographer and editor her senior year. She was also a writer and editor of the student newspaper.
As the vice president of the Student Council in grades 10-11, she helped to plan campus events like the Spring Fling. Working with the Student Council, she initiated and managed an aluminum recycling program.
In 2012, Taylor was named to the University of Kentucky’s “Class of Kentucky.” She also attended the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) conference and later received the President’s Volunteer Service award and was named a semi-finalist for HOBY’s national Alumni Leadership for Service award.
Graduating as salutatorian and a 2013 Kentucky Governor’s Scholar, Taylor stated, “Oneida has an average of 11 students in each class which I think has definitely helped me to stay focused and really excel. In addition, our school provides many different AP courses which I took in order to study with like-minded people. These classes really helped prepare me for college.”
Inspired by her AP government and music classes at OBI, Taylor plans to major in political science and music education.
Taylor accepted Christ at age seven and noted, “I did not really appreciate the benefits of growing up at a Baptist school until [recently]. I see now that chapel and the Christian influence on campus have drastically enhanced my trust and love for God. ... Even if I did not enjoy a particular day of chapel, I could always find some act of worship in the service to bring me closer to Christ.”
Jessie, Class of 2014
Graduating in the top ten of OBI’s class of 2014, Jessie came to Oneida from Ghana as a junior in 2012. Jessie’s aunt and uncle live in Texas, but she had moved several times around the world because of her father’s job. Finishing the last two years of high school at a boarding school brought consistency to her life. She recalled, “We were about to move again, and my father wanted me to settle down. I was kind of scared. I had never been to a boarding school before. ... It was difficult, because I was constantly homesick.”
At first, Jessie did not enjoy working after school in the kitchen, but she quickly learned that she could join sports and other activities to fulfill the work requirement. “I liked it a lot more! ... Being in activities helped me make friends,” Jessie observed.
She participated in a wide variety of cocurriculars including sports (soccer and swimming) as well as drama and academic team. She earned a Good Worker award, a Mountaineer of Noble Distinction award and the Director’s Award in drama. Jessie won the 2013-14 Oneidian Yearbook Queen pageant.
As a Christian, Jessie enjoyed plugging into organizations like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Baptist Campus Ministry and the girls’ dorm devotion group.
Looking forward to college where she will major in computer engineering, Jessie has enjoyed the advanced placement classes she was able to take at Oneida. She said, “They made me think more. It was a challenge, and I liked it.” The best part about OBI? “The memories you make with friends,” Jessie said.
Hunter, Class of 2014
Hunter enrolled at OBI as a junior from central Kentucky. His dad heard about OBI from a coworker and thought it would be a good fit for Hunter. “My parents are divorced, and my brother and I don’t usually get along too well. My dad wanted to make sure nothing would happen while he was at work. ... My grades weren’t up to par, and the environment [at school] wasn’t great. I didn’t have too many actual friends. I needed a chance to start over.”
When he came for a campus tour in the summer, Hunter said, “It seemed a little strange and a little too strict about some things, but I had more reasons to give it a try.”
Hunter’s grades were straight A’s from the first day in class at OBI. He enjoyed the discussions in his advanced placement classes and noticed that smaller classes meant fewer distractions to learning. He added, “I didn’t feel intimidated by the teachers; they were easier to approach. It was easier to ask a question in class, [because] you don’t experience criticism from 30 other students if you don’t understand something and they do.”
OBI’s work program was another benefit Hunter’s dad wanted for him. Hunter said, “I knew that was something that needed to improve, and I wanted to make him proud about that.” He started out on the trash crew, joined the soccer team and then worked on a dorm cleaning crew. He took pride in making sure his cleaning jobs were done correctly. “Last year, I was the only non-supervisor to get an Outstanding Worker award,” he said.
This year, in addition to participating in soccer and swimming, Hunter worked as a supervisor in the dorm. Brand new students were assigned to Hunter’s cleaning crew for training. “Some people caught on quickly, and with some people, you had to sit on top of them and make sure they did the job right,” Hunter said.
Hunter became good friends with some of his roommates and believes his dorm experience will benefit him in college. “I learned to be more patient with people and more tolerant of certain things like noise,” he said.
Reluctant at first about enrolling at OBI, Hunter said, “If you compare me now to myself back then, you wouldn’t even recognize me. ... I just realized that Oneida was the best decision I made in my life.”
Barnabas, Class of 2014
From South Korea, Barnabas and his younger sister, Grace, enrolled at OBI in 2010. “My parents were always praying that we could study in America. The education system in Korea is so strict. ... I was in America when I was younger, and I dreamed of coming back,” he said.
Barnabas and Grace were born in Texas, where their father attended seminary. Barnabas was seven years old when the family returned to Korea.
During middle school, Barnabas struggled with his grades. “To get good grades in Korea, you have to study all the time,” he said. OBI became an affordable alternative. “My dad liked the smaller classes, the environment and the Christianity-based school,” he added.
Barnabas had no qualms about leaving home and said, “At home, I could not enjoy sports or hang out with friends. In Korean education, people don’t get to find what they’re really good at like music or sports. My parents sent me here so I could enjoy both studying and extracurricular activities. I really liked the freedom I had at OBI.”
In two seasons of soccer, Barnabas was named to the All District Team and received the Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year award. During his four years with tennis, he earned the Coach’s Award, the MVP Award and advanced to state.
“Sports give me time to release my stress and concern. It’s the only time I can relax!” Barnabas said.
Between the soccer and tennis seasons, Barnabas played the clarinet with the OBI pep band. He received the Director’s Award two years in a row.
Graduating third in his class, Barnabas did not slack on his studies at OBI. His top grades and ACT score earned him a scholarship at a college in Kentucky, where he plans to major in pre-medicine or pre-dentistry.
Studying math at OBI renewed his interest in the subject. He explained, “When I was in Korea, I was bad at math; I loathed it. Here, I became one of the best math students. They recognized me as a ‘star student,’ and I got this confidence and pride and I started to really work on math. Mr. Grant’s a great teacher!”
Being away from home benefited his spiritual life as well. He said, “Before I came to OBI, I thought I was a Christian because I was in a Christian family and because I was the pastor’s son. I really changed here. I started to think about God more seriously and realize that He really did send His Son to die for our sins. ... I wanted to start a new life with this Christian identity.”
Thomas, Class of 2014
Thomas came to Oneida from northern Kentucky as a sixth grader. His parents learned about Oneida when the OBI president spoke at their church. “My mom and dad thought this was the best place for my education,” he said.
Thomas looked at the OBI website to familiarize himself with his new school and home-away-from home. “I thought OBI looked really great! They have the farm and all this stuff for students to do,” he recalled. “When I read that the teachers at OBI cared about helping students grow academically as well as spiritually, I knew this was the place for me,” he added.
Thomas had struggled in school at home and needed the one-on-one help we offer in the Tutoring Lab. “I don’t know why, but nothing came easy to me in school. The Tutoring Lab helped me a lot. They worked with me until I actually got it,” he said. He made the honor roll his second year at Oneida.
The farm was the perfect job for Thomas, who enjoys being outside. “The farm taught me valuable skills that I will use in the future. ... This year, they trusted me to do more independent things like driving a tractor, doing welding projects and feeding the animals.” he said. He earned Outstanding Worker awards each year and plans to attend a technical school to study welding and mechanics after graduation.
Thomas joined the FFA as a seventh grader and held officer positions in grades 9-12. He received his FFA Greenhand, Discovery and Chapter Degrees and other certificates.
Over the years, Thomas tried other activities including baseball, track, choir and drama. He earned the Most Improved and Director’s Awards in choir, the Coach’s Award in baseball and his athletic letter jacket.
As a Christian, Thomas said, “I’ve learned a lot at OBI. I think it’s taught me to be more dependent on God and not myself. Daily chapel is great, because that’s the place where God can open our hearts to His word.”
Thomas explained that what kept him at OBI was “the care and the love that each faculty and staff member has shown me. I feel very glad to be a part of this great school.”
Savannah, Class of 2014
From a community less than two hours away from OBI, Savannah enrolled at OBI in 2010 as an eighth grader. She comes from a blended family and said, “We were having some trouble at home.” When presented with the option of attending boarding school, Savannah recalled, “At first I was apprehensive and angry that my parents would uproot me from my home. ... Then, I wanted to embrace my independence and have a new start with different people.”
When she arrived at OBI, she adapted easily to dorm life. “I was used to sharing a room with my sister. I made friends as quickly as possible and just adjusted,” she said. She has enjoyed getting to know people from all over the world at Oneida. “I love my best friend and all the other wonderful people at OBI. The diversity at Oneida is so much different than the small town from which I originate ... There aren’t the stereotypical cliques; anyone can be friends with anyone,” she said.
Savannah liked her classes at OBI because they were small and because it seemed that the students were grouped by academic ability. “I liked the way they break up the students. The advanced students were together in my eighth grade algebra class. We got a lot more done,” she explained.
Graduating fourth in her class at OBI, Savannah received academic awards and took advanced placement courses. “I have had more time to study by not having to commute to school. Also, having people to study with in the dorm was quite helpful,” she said.
Savannah appreciates OBI’s “required job” rule, because she said it makes it easier for students to get involved and to make friends. She explored her interest in sports her first few years at OBI by joining track, cross country, cheerleading and swimming. She earned varsity letters in each sport.
During high school, fine arts became her forté beginning with drama and choir her freshman year and adding pep band as a sophomore. She made the auditioned vocal ensemble her junior and senior years and also studied art and piano. She made the 2014 KMEA All State Chorus and participated in the regional All Festival Choir for four years.
In drama, Savannah was named the Best Newcomer and the Best Actress. She received the Best Artist and Most Valuable Singer awards as well as earning an Outstanding Piano Student award and the Bach Award in piano.
Her musical experience at Oneida contributed to Savannah’s decision to major in music education in college. “Choir was something that I had always wanted to try but was never able to do at home due to schedule problems. Choir and ensemble at OBI have helped me so many ways; physically, mentally and emotionally. I found an outlet to express myself and to be around my closest friends. I learned about an unknown potential to be a leader, honed by my choir director who gave me opportunities to conduct,” she said.
Savannah accepted Christ when she was younger. She noted one area in which she has benefited spiritually by attending OBI: “You’re away from a lot of the pressures you get in a normal community. It seemed easier for me to live the way I’m supposed to,” she said. Daily chapel services were “a nice break in the school day.”
Looking back on her years at Oneida, Savannah said, “I am so thankful for Oneida and what I have gained from attending school here.”
Christie, Class of 2014
Christie is from New York and enrolled at OBI as a sophomore. Several of her cousins already attended and Christie said, “I had wanted to try boarding school, and when I heard about OBI, it made me want to come here! I heard that it’s safer, and you connect with people more. I heard that the sports teams are like family. I couldn’t do sports at home, because my school was so far away.”
At OBI, Christie became a manager for the softball, volleyball, swimming and cheerleading teams. She earned the Best Teammate and the Highest GPA awards as a player in softball. She received the Most Improved Server award in volleyball.
Christie learned more about the Bible at OBI. “Chapel here was like a Sunday School class to me. It helps you to think about what you need to improve in your life. It gives you insight into what you need to do. I liked the guest speakers and the bands, too,” she said.
Christie became more serious about preparing for college. “At first, I didn’t care about my grades. I never failed, but I would pass with a C. I actually started trying, and I made the A honor roll my junior year. I was so happy!” she said. Her goal is to become an anesthesiologist.
Isaac, Class of 2014
Isaac was 13 years old when his family moved from Indiana to central Kentucky. Two years ago, his father became a pastor at a Baptist church in a community near Oneida. His parents decided that OBI would be good for Isaac, so he enrolled as a junior and began commuting to our campus.
OBI was a different experience from public school. Isaac said, “I liked that there were devotions before most of my classes.” He also enjoyed daily chapel services, especially the presentations by Creative Ministries.
Though he grew up being taught the word of God at home, Isaac benefited from Godly instruction at Oneida in chapel and in the classroom. He explained, “Always when you approach God’s word, there are new things to learn.”
A good student, Isaac took advantage of the advanced placement classes offered at OBI. Isaac’s previous experience with Academic Team was valuable to OBI’s newly-started team this year, and he was named team captain.
Isaac enjoyed working in the computer lab three periods a day as part of the Field Placement program this year. He gained 900 hours of work experience and computer repair skills, and received a certificate from the Kentucky Department of Education. Isaac said, “I learned a lot about what I think I want to do as a career. It was better than a classroom setting, because I actually got to work on the computers.”
Alexis, Class of 2014
Alexis is from western Kentucky and has attended OBI at the recommendation of a family counselor since January 2012. Alexis needed a change. She had a difficult home life and was surrounded by bad influences in her peer group. She said, “I was excited to try something new and to be by myself.”
OBI became a lifeline for Alexis when her grandparents’ home burned two years ago. Alexis, her mother and sister had been forced to move in with her grandparents shortly before the fire. “We all had to start over,” she said.
At OBI, Alexis saw improvement in her grades and made the honor roll her first year. “I was more focused in school than before,” she said. After school, she enjoyed staying busy. Having played volleyball since the seventh grade, she joined the OBI team her junior year. “Volleyball is my passion,” she said. She became a team leader, earned the 110% Award and was named to the All District Team. She also received Outstanding Worker awards for her work in the campus grill and dorm.
Looking back on her time at Oneida, Alexis said she is most grateful for her OBI friends. “They’re real. I’ve never had real friends who I could trust,” she said.
Taylor, Class of 2013
When Taylor’s parents divorced, she recalled, “I stopped caring about anything. I started hanging out with the wrong people. I had bad grades, and my credits got messed up.”
Her dad graduated from OBI, and Taylor (pictured on the right in the photo) realized that she was not going to graduate on time if she stayed at her old school in Ohio.
She was nervous when she arrived as a junior but said, “After I got here and met everybody, I [found] a whole bunch of kids who were just like me. Everybody here just became like family.”
Taylor made the honor roll and said, “I made the best grades I ever made. ... The teachers really do care about their students. Knowing a teacher cared helped me get my grades up.” She made up classes during summer school. “I’m all caught up!” she smiled.
Taylor attended church when she was younger, but as a teenager, she said, “I didn’t really think about it.” Since coming to OBI, “I’m starting to believe [in God] and it’s a new idea for me. I realize that He is there. I’ve started praying, and I enjoy going to chapel and hearing about God,” she said.
Her senior year, Taylor worked after school as a “mop crew” supervisor in the dorm and a cook in the campus grill. She won the Talent Award for singing in the Yearbook Queen pageant, and she sang solos during the senior girls’ Praise Night and the Senior Banquet.
Taylor plans to become a nurse like her mom. She has just one regret about her time at Oneida: “I wish I had been here longer.”
Josh, Class of 2013
Josh transferred to OBI as a senior from central Kentucky. He said, “I wasn’t passing classes. I came for summer school [at OBI] because I had failed English III. If I didn’t get my act together ... I probably would not graduate on time; I probably would have to get my GED, and I didn’t want that and my family didn’t want that for me.”
Josh was apprehensive about leaving home. “I wasn’t sure if I would be homesick all the time, but I wasn’t. ... It was different. College will be easier now,” he added.
He found the academic support he needed at OBI to complete his senior year and graduate.
“[At home], I wasn’t focused. I didn’t do my work. I was lazy. Here, it’s different because you have study hall and people to help you. It’s harder to be lazy. There’s so much down time at OBI you may as well do your homework,” he said.
Josh gained work experience during his time at Oneida. He started out on a dormitory cleaning crew and was quickly made the supervisor of his crew. He accepted a small role in the fall play but kept his dorm job. After Christmas break, he was promoted to dormitory hall monitor. Josh said with a smile, “I was working my way up the corporate ladder!”
Raised in a Christian but non-Baptist household, Josh said that he learned more about the Bible at Oneida. “I hadn’t delved into scriptures as much as I did here. I didn’t know all the books; I only knew the main ones like the gospels ... . [At OBI], I learned scripture, and I learned what it meant in context,” he said.
Josh looks forward to studying nursing or social sciences in college. “I like interacting with people. My parents are both nurses, and I like what they do. I like working with people and knowing what people are thinking and why,” he said.
Selena, Class of 2013
Selena enrolled as a freshman from central Kentucky. Her older brother was already attending OBI. She said, “I wanted to come here. Where I’m from, most girls ... don’t do anything with their lives and I didn’t want to be like that. ... I had to talk my parents into it.”
Meeting new people at OBI was challenging for Selena. “I’m really quiet,” she said. Living with other girls helped her to improve her communication skills.
She thought the rules were strict, but, as a Christian, she agreed that they help students stay on the right track. “You know you can’t do certain things, which you know you’re not supposed to do anyway,” she said.
Selena’s grades improved when she came to Oneida. “People actually help here. You can actually ask questions, because it’s a small class,” she said.
She explained that because most students pay attention in class, it makes it easier to focus and to feel comfortable speaking up.
Selena earned an Outstanding Worker award for her after-school job in the campus grill. She earned athletic letters for four seasons of softball and three seasons of cheerleading. She also received the High Flyer award in cheerleading and the Hustle Award and 110% Award in softball.
Selena played the flute in middle school and decided to take a piano class this year. “I was pretty excited about getting back into music,” she said.
Her family moved this year to New York to be near her grandmother. Selena would like to attend college in Kentucky to major in business.
Timothy, Class of 2013
Timothy lives about a mile from campus and has been attending OBI as a commuting student since the seventh grade. Even though his parents “made” him attend OBI, Timothy said, “Personally, I’d rather go here. There’s more culture. I get to know people from around the world.”
When it comes to academics, Timothy admits he can be a “procrastinator.” Being at Oneida helped him to earn above average grades.
“Normally, my grades are A’s to C’s. They are as good as they are probably because of the smaller classes. The teachers can more easily help you, because there aren’t 22 kids in their classes. A lot of teachers here are really, really nice,” he said.
The class that challenged him the most was his senior English class, because it emphasized class discussion. Timothy described “nerve-wracking” shyness when it comes to interacting with others. By the end of the year, he said, “I actually enjoyed the class. It got me out of my comfort zone.”
“I’m not really a person to go to church,” Timothy said. Daily chapel is where he learned about the Bible. “It’s kind of my daily church. Over the years, I became more and more [interested] in chapel,” he said.
Timothy’s long-term goal is to become a writer.
Beimnet, Class of 2013
Beimnet (pronounced Behm-net) has attended OBI since the sixth grade, when she came from Ethiopia with her older sister, who graduated from OBI in 2006.
“My family wanted me to learn here, to have better English and better opportunities for my future. I was really excited! I liked the idea of going to America,” she said.
Beimnet quickly became known at OBI for her cheerful attitude and for her involvement in a wide variety of cocurriculars. She is pictured
As a seventh grader, Beimnet was a member of the high school choir and named Singer of the Year. “I absolutely loved choir. I enjoyed the traveling,” she said.
Her senior year, Beimnet enrolled in the auditioned vocal ensemble class and was selected to sing in the regional All Festival Choir. She appreciated the chance to add musical skills to her talent. “I developed more as a singer here. I learned about breathing and vowels [and] how to read music,” she said.
Beimnet joined the yearbook staff as a freshman and became the editor her junior and senior years. In grades 9-12, she participated in nearly every sport we offer. She was the team captain in two sports, Player of the Year in basketball, and she earned the Highest GPA award in soccer.
She was the first runner up in the 2012 Yearbook Queen pageant and the senior class president. The Ministry Team named Beimnet Miss Oneida (most outstanding), and awarded her OBI’s second highest graduation honor, the John Michael Davis Citizenship Award.
It was around age 13 that Beimnet said she had a “serious talk” with the Lord. She said, “I had always thought I was a Christian, but I was feeling a knock on my heart. ... I made a decision to follow Christ and live according to His purpose.”
Beimnet said her most difficult year at OBI was the eighth grade. “I’d been away from home for three years at such a young age,” she reflected. “There were times when I cried, but my friends helped me, and I had great houseparents and teachers who were helpful and who gave me love.”
Beimnet became a Kentucky resident her sophomore year when her parents were able to move here. This qualified her to apply for the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Progam, and she was accepted in 2012. As a GSP alum, Beimnet will enjoy scholarship opportunities for college, where she may study English and music.
“I have so many dreams, so many things I want to do. I’m waiting on God ... and whatever doors He opens, that’s where I’ll go,” she said.
Josh, Class of 2013
American missionaries to Joshua’s home country of Senegal knew about OBI and helped Joshua and his older sister to come to the U.S. “This was a God thing. Maybe twice a year, the church in [Alabama] sent a group to bring free medical care. They came to our church; that’s how we met them,” he said.
At Oneida, Joshua enjoyed the chance to be independent and to meet different people. “I really love the cultural diversity here,” he said, but his primary goal was to improve his future. He said, “I would have a better education in America. My country is poor ... [and] does not have the quality in the education. I want to become a doctor and go back to my country and help people.”
Graduating in the academic top five and receiving a President’s Award, Joshua said, “It was challenging, since it was all in English and not French. The teachers were kind; I could talk to them directly.” The OBI Ministry Team named Joshua the Most Outstanding and Most Studious junior boy.
Joshua was most appreciative of OBI’s Christian environment. He said, “In Senegal, I felt alone [as] a Christian. Here, I was surrounded by Christians. It encouraged me to see adults who are strong in Jesus.”
Summer, Class of 2013
Summer and her older sister, Lidia, enrolled at OBI when Summer was a sixth grader. The girls were from Ethiopia but have family in California.
Summer said, “My aunt went here, [and] she thought it would be a good place for us. I wasn’t happy at first, but ... it made it easier that my big sister was here. She helped me a lot with laundry and stuff, but when she graduated, I had to do it myself. I definitely learned to be independent.”
At first, Summer needed help with her fluency in English, so she was enrolled in English as a Second Language class in sixth grade. Summer has been on the honor roll every year at OBI.
In middle school, Summer worked after school in the dining hall. “I definitely did not like having a job at first,” she laughed. “I guess it makes sense. It teaches you how to not be late and how to do your job,” she said.
She joined sports in high school, playing volleyball for four years and receiving the Most Improved award. Summer received the Coach’s Award after three seasons of cheerleading, and she participated in track and softball each for one season. She earned her athletic letter jacket this year.
A Christian before she came to Oneida, Summer had much to learn about the Bible. She noted, “Now, I know a lot that I did not know before. Being at Oneida definitely impacted my faith in God.”
Summer is preparing to attend a community college for two years and choose her major later.
Robert, Class of 2013
Robert was living with his mother in North Carolina when she was diagnosed with cancer. Her treatments required her to be away from home for long periods of time. “I needed someplace to go. ... I was trustworthy, but a little young to be at home by myself for six weeks,” Robert said.
His dad and stepmother lived in Kentucky, but Robert could not go live with them, because they were planning a move. A friend of his dad’s told them about OBI.
Robert enrolled his sophomore year at Oneida. He said, “It’s not at all what I expected. There was a lot more structure than I expected. At the time it was upsetting, because I thought I was going to be ‘free’ to do what I wanted, but I see [now] that it’s a good thing.”
Robert had to repeat a grade because of skipping school at home, but at OBI, he made A’s and B’s. “It’s the best I’ve done in my whole life,” he said.
Circumstances may have caused Robert to become a student at OBI, but he admitted that he had been making poor decisions and needed a fresh start in his life. “I didn’t approve of myself the way I was living,” he said.
Coming to Oneida got him away from negative influences and gave him a chance to make right choices. “I had time to myself to think about what I was doing wrong. I found God here,” he said.
Robert accepted Christ during a Sunday evening chapel service in January of his first year at OBI. He shared, “Every time I was in chapel, I would have flashbacks of things I had done at home—how I had treated my mom and others around me, how ungrateful I was. The message in chapel that night is how God has given you all this, the least you can do is worship Him. I was tired of feeling so terrible. I prayed, ‘Lord, help me please,’ and I had never spoken those words with the meaning that was behind it. I woke up the next morning with total peace. There have still been hard times, but God’s been helping me to this day.”
Robert plugged into Christian fellowship opportunities like Baptist Campus Ministry and meeting with friends for “quiet time” over breakfast. He said, “I enjoy being around a group of Christians to read the word and to try to get closer to God.”
Robert was voted the Most Outstanding sophomore boy by the OBI faculty. “That put a big ol’ grin on my face,” he smiled. He also received two academic awards and two Outstanding Worker awards.
Robert lives on a farm at home and plugged into the agriculture program at OBI through classes, his after school job and the FFA. He was the vice president of the FFA this year. “The farm is like a home away from home for me,” he said.
Robert discovered a talent in graphic design as a student in OBI’s commercial art program. This year he worked in the sign lab as a Field Placement student, designing and making vinyl signs. He said, “I can’t draw, paint or sketch, but with the computer I have the ability to do all that and get a hard copy of what my mind has in it. It’s very enjoyable.”
He may study graphic design in college, but noted that farming will always be a part of his life.
Nicole, Class of 2013
Nicole enrolled at OBI at the start of her junior year. She is from central Kentucky and said, “My aunt was already concerned about my grades, but when I got into some trouble my sophomore year for skipping school a couple times and she found out about it, she suggested [OBI] to my mom,” Nicole recalled.
She did not adjust very well when she first arrived at OBI. After continued problems of not following the rules, Nicole was invited to not return after Christmas break.
Back at home, “There were so many distractions and the same influences as before. I realized that being at OBI was the best decision,” she said.
During the first semester of her junior year, Nicole had been struggling with faith issues. It helped her to be able to ask questions of students and teachers. “People are more open to talk about [God] here, so it’s easier,” she said.
Her roommate “told me a lot about God that I had never known.” With the help of a few friends in her dorm room, Nicole prayed to accept Christ.
Allowed to return to OBI at the beginning of her senior year, Nicole did not waste her second chance. “I decided to get my grades up for graduation,” she said.
She found the afternoon schedule helpful in her improvement and making the honor roll. “Even if you’re not in study hall, you have that time to do your homework while everyone else is in study hall. ... It helps that everyone is trying to do their homework,” she said.
This semester, Nicole worked on the nighttime floor waxing crew so she could have her evenings free for homework. “It really taught me a good work ethic; you have to do it right or they make you do it again,” she said. After graduation, Nicole is enrolling in a cosmetology program.
Brandon, Class of 2013
Brandon had been struggling academically at home in Georgia. His mother heard about OBI and thought the smaller classes and Christian environment would benefit him. Brandon enrolled at OBI as a sophomore.
“I always had trouble in school. ... I wasn’t focused. I was just hanging with my friends. [At OBI], it’s a whole different thing. When I came here, I met teachers who got to know me, which made it easier for me to understand the school work and get better grades,” Brandon said.
Another benefit to smaller classes is helping students feel comfortable asking questions. “I’m a shy person. It made me not scared to ask for help,” he said. Brandon made the honor roll by his junior year.
Brandon made a decision for Christ during his junior year. “I had been thinking about it for a long time, so I prayed and asked for forgiveness,” he said. He agreed that being at OBI can influence a young person toward faith in God but said, “The environment may push them toward it, but ... it’s their decision.”
Brandon started out working after school in the farm mechanic shop. Once basketball season began, sports became his priority. He played three seasons of basketball, two seasons each of soccer and baseball and one season of track. He earned varsity athletic letters in all plus the Most Valuable Player award in soccer.
Brandon said he is joining the Marines after graduation and would eventually like to become a physical therapist.
Natalie, Class of 2013
Natalie was born in China and adopted by American parents from Arizona when she was two years old. Her two younger sisters, not biological, were also adopted from China. The family began to experience difficulties, and by high school, Natalie had withdrawn emotionally from the family.
She recalled the last day of her sophomore year when her parents told her that she would be attending OBI: “It was a shock. The atmosphere at home had been rather negative, ... [but] I thought my parents were being unfair getting to choose every single detail of my life. Once I got here, I realized I had a lot more freedom. It made me happy, and I felt relieved.”
Natalie had not attended church in recent years, and it was during her very first chapel service at Oneida that she rededicated her life to Christ. “I realized I needed help. It was so overwhelming. I really renewed my faith that night,” she said. She took advantage of many opportunities on campus to fellowship with other Christians.
Besides her after-school job as the supervisor of a dormitory cleaning crew, Natalie was an officer in both the Baptist Campus Ministry and the FFA. She was voted the senior class secretary, won the Yearbook Queen pageant, earned an Outstanding Worker award and received Academic Excellence awards in nearly all of her classes.
Natalie enrolled in OBI’s Field Placement “school-to-work” program this year. She assisted in the K-2 classroom the first semester and transferred to the student “store” after Christmas break. She said, “That job gave me the best experience. I had to go through a mock interview and turn in a resumé. I thought it was great!”
Planning for college, Natalie said, “I would love to do something with photography and video, or I’d like to go into elementary education.”
Daniel, Class of 2012
From United Arab Emirates, Daniel completed his last two years of high school at OBI. His aunt, who lives in America, had heard about Oneida Baptist and that it was “a good Christian school.” Daniel’s parents were apprehensive about his studying abroad, but they knew it was a valuable opportunity for him. Daniel agreed that attending OBI would provide a transition into adulthood and college. “I have to leave one day. Why couldn’t this be the start?” he reasoned.
Daniel has played soccer since he was very young and became eligible to play at OBI his senior year. Before he joined sports, he was the supervisor of the chapel cleaning crew and earned an Outstanding Worker award. Having a daily is beneficial because, “It shows you how to manage your time and what it’s
going to be like when you work [later],” he said.
Daniel plays the guitar and shared his talent in ministry opportunities like accompanying special music performances in chapel services.
OBI staff member Jerry Worcester leads a worship time in the boys’ dormitory. When he began the meetings, he noticed, “Daniel would always be there. He seemed to enjoy worship, singing and playing his guitar. Eventually, I asked him to be a part of the Sunday worship team. He took it seriously. Whenever we had a practice, he was always there. He is very courteous, a nice guy.”
Daniel plans to study engineering at a college in the United States. He enjoyed his time at Oneida saying, “It was awesome. I had a lot of friends and there were a lot of activities and things to do.”
Kaitlin, Class of 2012
Kaitlin had family ties to Oneida long before she enrolled her freshman year. From clothing donations to short-term missions trips, “My grandparents have [been involved] with Oneida for like 20 years. That’s how my family knew about it,” she said.
When Kaitlin started high school at home, she was already headed down the wrong path. “I was getting into trouble starting in the eighth grade,” she explained. “I felt lost. I had no goals or ambitions. I wasn’t going to school, and I was failing all my classes. My parents said, ‘Enough is enough.’”
She did not mind leaving home to attend OBI. “I knew in my heart that something had to give. I knew I needed to make a change,” she said.
Change did not come easily for Kaitlin, who struggled with rules and authority. She said, “I was very defiant and stubborn. I wouldn’t listen to the houseparents. I was not nice to my teachers. It was my way or the highway.”
Surprisingly, Kaitlin did not have a problem with Oneida’s after school “job” requirement. “I liked that part. I like to work, and I like working with my hands. I liked the unity and how you came together to get the job done,” she said. She worked in the dining hall and became supervisor of her cleaning crew. “I liked having leadership,” she added.
At the end of her sophomore year, Kaitlin got into some trouble. The prospect of being sent home proved to be a turning point in her life as her defiant attitude crumbled. “I realized that I couldn’t afford to go back home and put myself right back where I started. I begged to come back,” she recalled.
She made a fresh start her junior year at OBI beginning with improving her GPA for college. She brought her average grades up to mostly A’s. “I started really focusing on all areas of my life—dorm, school and God. I started growing up,” she said.
Before coming to OBI, Kaitlin did not believe in God. “I thought Christianity was like mythology. At points in my life I would wonder if there was a God, but I always decided there wasn’t. Little did I know He was trying to help me the whole time.” With guidance from OBI teachers, Bible class and timely chapel sermons, Kaitlin concluded, “I need a Savior.”
She said a prayer to accept Christ as her Savior during an evening chapel service last year. Since that moment, “It’s been awesome!” she said. She noticed changes in herself and in how she treated others. “I have more self control. I think before I speak now and that’s been something I’ve always struggled with. I feel I can connect more with people. I have more confidence, because I put my confidence in Him. I shine for Him.”
Kaitlin was named by the Oneida faculty the Most Improved junior girl. “It really touched my heart to know they saw my improvements. It motivated me to do even better this year,” she said.
Kaitlin’s math teacher, Diane Davidson, said, “Accepting Christ and being baptized ... was a turning point in her life. It’s wonderful to see a young lady who used to be loud and argumentative become a young lady who is using her voice to bless others. Jesus has truly made a difference in her life.”
Kaitlin enrolled in the senior Field Placement program and was a teaching assistant in the elementary classes for OBI faculty/staff children. “My field placement job showed me what having a boss is really going to be like. They have expectations of what you should get done every day. It was a challenge, but it’s really going to benefit me later,” she said. Her career goal is to become a physical therapist.
Kaitlin believes it is God’s grace that has enabled her to stay and graduate from OBI. “I would debate with myself every summer, ‘Do I want to stay at Oneida or do I want to go home?’ I could feel something tugging at my heart to go back to Oneida.”
Jesse, Class of 2012
Jesse arrived at OBI from Alabama when he was in the eighth grade. His grandparents were long-time friends of Oneida and volunteers with the Alabama Campers on Mission, which makes a two-week mission trip to Oneida each year.
“I pretty much didn’t do anything at my old school except get in trouble,” he recalled. He skipped school and needed to repeat the eighth grade.
Though he agreed to come to Oneida, Jesse admitted, “At first I hated it here. I got in trouble a lot when I first started. Having to go to study hall every night was irritating.” Jesse noted that keeping his room clean was not a problem. “I never failed a room check,” he said.
After he settled into life in Oneida, he saw improvement in his grades and behavior. “I got into the swing of things and changed my direction,” he said. By the end of his first year, his teachers voted him the Most Improved eighth grade boy. His grades were up to A’s and B’s by his freshman year.
Jesse accepted Christ during his freshman year. “I was not a Christian before I came here,” he said. “I prayed with one of the houseparents. I changed from being the person I was ... Now, it’s like I’ve completely turned my life over to Him. I understand that anything He does is for my greater good.”
Jesse explored a variety of talents in high school. He acted in two plays and sang in the choir for one year. He was also a member of the Student Council his senior year.
He discovered a talent for graphic design when he enrolled in commercial art class this year. “I like getting to come up with my own designs. I never thought I’d be good at it, but my teacher says I’m one of the best students,” he said. He won first place at both the regional and state art shows in the graphic design category.
OBI commercial art teacher Sheri Nutter named Jesse the Student of the Year. “Jesse has an instinct for the business of graphic design. His work is marketable, and his attitude and skill make him a pleasure to work with,” she said.
After school, Jesse was the supervisor of his dorm cleaning crew. “It makes me feel good knowing that when I do a job, it is well done,” he said. He plans to study business management in college.
Oretha, Class of 2012
Oretha was born in Liberia and was living with her aunt after her mother died. When she was seven years old, her aunt “won” visas for the family to travel to the U.S.
Oretha went to live with her grandmother in Massachusetts. As a teenager, “I wasn’t really getting along with my grandma. I never listened to her, and I never really took her seriously,” she recalled.
A friend of the family had sent her son to OBI. Oretha agreed to give it a try and enrolled her sophomore year. When her family left campus, she struggled with homesickness. Her roommates would invite her to join them for free time activities, but Oretha would refuse. “I prayed a lot, and God helped me settle in. He helped me let my guard down so I could participate in things,” she said.
It took about a month before she began opening up to people and realized, “It was easy to make friends here. They’re all really nice.” Her friends became an important part of her decision to stay and graduate from OBI.
Having daily job requirements was a new experience for Oretha, keeping a tidy dorm room was not difficult. “I’m a neat freak. I did most of the work, but it didn’t bother me,” she laughed. She and her roommates won the Cleanest Room award for three years.
Oretha earned an Outstanding Worker award as the supervisor of a dining hall crew. She was a hall monitor in the dorm and a team manager for cross country and cheerleading. In the senior Field Placement program, she assisted in the K-2 classroom for staff children.
In 2011, Oretha received the student-voted Brad Dorrough Friendship award and was named the Most Outstanding junior girl. “Oretha has a positive influence on those around her and encourages her peers to never settle, to always give their best efforts in whatever they do,” said cheerleading coach Michelle Barnes.
Oretha accepted Christ when she was younger but decided to be baptized at Oneida Baptist Church. “I’ve seen myself grow here. I wanted to take this step with God before I [graduated],” she said.
She felt that required Bible class, sharing her talent in Creative Ministries and participating in the dormitory devotion group all contributed to her spiritual well-being while at Oneida.
Oretha is ready to graduate and “see what’s out there for me.” She plans to start by obtaining her nursing degree. “Ultimately, I want to be a family therapist. I like to help people and make them feel better,” she said.
You Chang, Class of 2012
You Chang Sung is from South Korea and came to Oneida as a sophomore. “When I was a freshman I had really bad grades,” he recalled. “Ever since I came here my grades have been getting better.”
Getting a fresh start was the motivation he needed to change his attitude. He said, “I decided to have some purpose in my life. I wanted to go to college, [so] I became concerned about studying seriously. [In class] I participated and asked many questions.”
You Chang was named the Most Studious and Most Outstanding junior boy last spring. He excelled in advanced placement courses offered at OBI, but top scores did not always come easily. “I had to work hard since English is my second language,“ he said. He plans to study psychology in college.
He liked OBI because it is “peaceful” and provided “many opportunities to help me improve myself in education and sports.” His after school activities included soccer and cleaning in the dormitory.
You Chang accepted Christ last year partly as a result of getting into trouble. Fearing expulsion after making a mistake in anger, he said that the Dean of Boys spoke to him with compassion. “I became a Christian after that because I learned about forgiveness,” he said.
“You Chang saw his mistake and then corrected the behavior which led to it,” recalled Joseph Scull III, the Dean of Boys during 2011. “He is committed to knowing the Lord and following Him. He is hardworking, thoughtful and very teachable. I believe he will be a great success at whatever the Lord leads him.”
Katie, Class of 2012
At home in Florida as a sophomore, Katie needed an intervention in her life. “I had a really bad attitude problem. I was really angry and taking it out on everyone. My mom felt like I needed to go somewhere. ... When she told me about OBI, I agreed to come,” said Katie.
She enrolled in the summer before her junior year. “When I got here, I fell in love with it,” she said. Some students are put off by the many rules and guidelines at OBI, but not Katie. “I liked how the rules were always the same,” she said.
Katie had played soccer at home since the second grade and joined the OBI soccer team for two seasons. A boys’ team which allows girls to play, OBI competes against the boys’
soccer teams of other schools. This did not deter Katie, who earned an athletic letter plus the Coach’s Award.
Katie also joined cheerleading. “I decided to try something different,” she said. When her sports seasons were over, she worked as a hall monitor in the dorm at night.
Katie said that she did not “give God much thought” her first few months at OBI. “Then, I found myself asking questions. I looked up scriptures and talked to people about it. I knew [God] was what I needed,” Katie said.
It was during a Christmas service at her home church when she prayed to receive Christ. She chose to be baptized at Oneida Baptist Church in March, 2011.
After sharing her testimony in chapel last year, OBI teacher Kirbee Parkhouse got to know Katie and her roommate when they asked for a follow-up conversation. “I shared Jesus with them, and Katie’s roommate accepted Christ that day,” Parkhouse recalled. She was glad to hear of Katie’s decision to accept Christ later. Parkhouse observed, “This year, Katie has struggled with a few decisions like where to go to college. I have noticed that she truly thinks about what God would want her to do. She has matured very much from the time I first met her and appears to be focused on following Jesus.”
Katie is ready for graduation but has appreciated her time here. “My mom and I get along a lot better now. Me being here was better for our relationship. ... I was able to forgive people and let go of my anger [because] I had God to help me,” she said. She plans to study criminal justice in college.
Adam, Class of 2012
Enrolling at OBI in the seventh grade from central Kentucky, Adam said, “Coming to Oneida was a really good step for me.” His family heard about Oneida at church.
One of nine children living together in a blended family, Adam had been having problems getting along at home. For similar reasons, his younger brother, Aaron, followed him to OBI a few years later.
Adam’s grades were mostly F’s when he was at home. “I was too lazy to do my work,” he admitted. He made the honor roll at OBI after just one quarter and received the Highest GPA award in the eighth and ninth grades.
He was voted the Most Improved seventh grade boy and the Most Outstanding eighth grade boy. His senior year, he completed two advanced placement (college prep) classes and graduated as salutatorian.
“I’m a different person than when I first came here. I have more self control, and I respect my parents at least a little bit,” he said. Adam enjoyed optional Bible study groups which encouraged questions and discussion. Chapel services helped him to keep his focus on what was important in daily life. He said, “My spiritual life has been influenced at Oneida. The teachers influenced me mostly by their patience with me.”
Adam played tennis, soccer and baseball. “I was home-schooled, so we didn’t have the opportunity to play sports, but I really wanted to,” he said. He received the Most Improved award in tennis. He also served on the Student Council for two years, acted in three plays and participated in Creative Ministries. He plans to study music and drama in college.
Lina, Class of 2012
Lina arrived at OBI for her junior year from Ethiopia. “I always wanted to come to the United States [for high school]. I wanted to go to college in the U.S.,” she said.
Lina knew about Oneida because her two older sisters graduated from here in 2007. They tried to help her adjustment to Oneida with a little reverse psychology. “She told me negative things [about OBI], so that I would come here and like it,” Lina said with a smile. Her roommates and other students made it an easier transition for Lina. “When I first came here, I didn’t talk to anyone. I was so scared. After a while I got used to my roommates. They were so nice. The people in this school help you get used to everything really quick,” she said.
Lina benefited from OBI’s rural location. “My grades improved so fast. I like how we don’t have all the distractions. I know if we had phone and internet access all the time nobody would study,” she said.
Her first year here, Lina said that she did not like her assigned jobs—first in the kitchen/dining hall and then cleaning the bathroom in the dorm. When she called home to complain, she remembers her mother’s response: “She told me, ‘That’s good. They’re making people work!’”
This year, Lina was eligible to play sports and joined volleyball and cheerleading. She earned a varsity letter and Highest GPA award in volleyball.
Lina followed in her sister’s footsteps and enrolled in OBI’s commercial art class. “She would make stuff and send it to us. I asked her how she did it and she told me about this class. I knew I had to take it. I told the teacher about my sister being in her class, and she was really happy,” Lina said. She would like to study interior design and international relations in college.
A Muslim, Lina learned much about the Christian faith in chapel and Bible class. “By the end of last year, I felt like I knew more about Christianity than my own religion,” she said. She explained her family’s decision to send her to a Christian school saying, “It’s better to go to a school with a religion than one without religion. It keeps you out of trouble and keeps you in line.”
Bradley, Class of 2012
Bradley said it was his parents’ decision for he and his younger brother, Derryn, to attend at least part of high school in the U.S. “My dad came to college in America, and he wanted us to have the same experiences,” Bradley said. He is from Papua New Guinea but has an aunt and uncle in Indiana.
The brothers attended another boarding school for two years prior to enrolling at OBI. Bradley heard about Oneida from another student and enrolled here as a junior.
His brother chose to stay at their old school but changed his mind after a year and enrolled as a sophomore at OBI last August. “We always fought before, but that was the first time we had ever been separated,” Bradley said. They chose to be roommates in the dormitory. “We’re really close now. It helped our relationship as brothers,” he added.
Bradley’s grades improved after he came to OBI. “I never really applied myself before. OBI taught me to apply myself more in school and in life,” he said. Students and teachers helped him to prioritize academics. “At OBI, the students encourage other kids to do better in school. If you are struggling, guys come to your room and help you with homework. They tell you to study more. The teachers help a lot by encouraging students to excel in academics,” he said.
Having an after school job “taught me to be more independent,” Bradley said. He worked on the farm crew last year and supervised the chapel cleaning crew this year. He plans to study business management in college.
Hye Been, Class of 2012
Hyebeen enrolled in January 2011 as a junior from South Korea. She had been an exchange student in the U.S. the previous year but wanted to stay and complete her education.
OBI was different from her last school because of the diversity of students. “There were a lot of cultures instead of just American culture. This is my fourth high school, and this is the best school,” she smiled.
Living in the dorm helped to teach Hyebeen responsibility and patience. She learned to get along with various personalities and to work out conflicts.
At first, she did not like the student work program. Now she says that she learned how to be on time and to not complain.
“When I get a real job I think I can do it much better, because I learned how to work here,” she said. She worked in the kitchen, campus grill and even on the farm. “It looked fun. I thought I would never get a chance in life to work on a farm!” she laughed.
As a senior, she joined drama, basketball and tennis. She was a member of the OBI choir and was named Second Runner Up in the Yearbook Queen pageant.
Hyebeen plans to study psychology and Christian music in college. “I want to be a missionary,” she said.
Anujin, Class of 2011
Born in Mongolia, Anujin moved to the U.S. at age five with her parents. Her dad moved around a lot because of his job. The fact that Anujin had lived in six states by the time she enrolled at OBI as a seventh grader was a big factor in their decision to choose a boarding school for her. They learned about OBI from a family friend.
It was not easy for Anujin to face starting yet another school year as the “new kid.” She recalled, “I figured I’d be a loner like at every other school. Then I got here and people were really nice to me. They understood that when you come to a new place, it’s hard. They were comforting, and I made a lot of friends....I liked it here because I got to interact with people. At home, I was by myself after school which was boring.”
Anujin accepted Christ in October, 2005, and was baptized at the Oneida Baptist Church. She said the daily teaching she heard in chapel led to her decision. “They tell us about salvation and a loving God and that it’s a free gift. What ‘clicked’ for me was that everyone craves a Father’s love. That’s what Christ is for me, not that my parents aren’t great, but He feeds me when I’m [spiritually] hungry,” she said.
She enjoyed OBI’s various worship and study groups like Baptist Campus Ministry and the girls’ dorm devotion group. “I’ve grown in my relationship with Christ. Life makes sense. When I first became a Christian, there was always doubt. Once you start communicating with God and having a personal relationship with Him, you grow. My faith is stronger now,” she said.
Anujin participated in all sorts of cocurriculars including cheerleading, volleyball, cross country, tennis, drama and Creative Ministries. She spoke on behalf of OBI at the Kentucky Baptist Convention in November 2010, and she was the president of the Student Government Association.
In sports, Anujin made the All A regional volleyball team three years in a row and received the Coach’s Award in volleyball and cheerleading. She earned the Most Improved award in tennis and cross country and Highest GPA awards in each sport.
The OBI faculty voted Anujin the Most Outstanding seventh grade and freshman girl.
Sheri Nutter worked with Anujin as a teacher and a coach. She said, “Anujin is one of those ‘renaissance students’ [who] excels at a variety of disciplines. She enthusiastically attacks all projects with gusto and smarts!”
Anujin maintained top grades by managing her time well. “You have to figure out what’s most important, and I always put being a student first,” she said.
Though her family currently resides in Illinois, Anujin would like to attend college in Kentucky, “so I can visit OBI,” she smiled.
Chris, Class of 2011
From Central Kentucky, Chris enrolled at OBI near the end of his freshman year in 2008. He had just been through a very difficult year at home having moved from Texas, where he had been living with his mother, to his father’s home in Kentucky. “I didn’t really get along with my dad. I do now, but at the time I felt like he was pressuring me to be a star [athlete] like my older brother. I felt bad about myself, so I guess I was getting back at him by not doing [well in] school,” Chis said.
At OBI, he joined soccer, basketball and baseball. He earned two athletic letters in basketball and three in soccer. He received the “Beast” award and the 110% award from his soccer coach and was named to the All District team.
His bad grades were mostly because he was skipping school and not turning in homework. “I never did drugs, but I was kind of a partier, so I would sleep through class. I came here to raise my grades and get back on track,” he said.
Chris experienced academic improvement almost immediately after enrolling at OBI. He said, “I’m definitely happy because my grades turned around dramatically. I had a 1.8 cumulative GPA my freshman year, and now it’s a 3.3.”
He credited required evening study hall, smaller classes and caring teachers with his success. “The teachers take the time to stop and help you. They slow it down and keep it at my pace.”
Chris added, “This environment was better for me. Friends can’t come over randomly and take you out. They might stop in your dorm room, but they’re gone in five minutes. I don’t think I could have succeeded at my old high school because of the distractions.”
OBI Dean of Boys, Joseph Scull III, observed of Chris, “He’s not a quitter. He continues to struggle toward the goal of success. I see that taking place in life as well. He will be one that will continue to work hard, to press forward, until the goal is achieved.”
During a chapel service on May 31, 2009, Chris said that he prayed and accepted Christ as his Savior. “[God] had been working on me,” he recalled. Chris believes that living apart from his dad helped their relationship. “It gave us space. I appreciate him more, and I appreciate time with him,” he said.
Chris plans to earn a business degree, attend law school and become a lawyer like his dad. “I like to help people, and I like to argue,” he smiled.
Shelby, Class of 2011
Shelby is from Tennessee and attended all four years of high school at OBI. “This school became my home. I love my family, but my friends were all here. Between my grades, sports and friends, OBI had a big part in shaping the person I am now,” she said.
Shelby and her parents had not been getting along. “We were constantly butting heads. They figured [if] I wasn’t home all the time, it would be better for me, them and my siblings. My parents knew this was the best place for me,” she said.
Living in a dormitory can be challenging, but Shelby said, “You learn how to forget about small things and focus on the more important things. You have to learn when to let stuff go and how to make the most of your time. Living in the dorm helped me to not be so quick tempered.”
Her first year at OBI, Shelby accepted Christ at a weekend retreat with her girls’ dorm devotion group. “Every day was a growing experience spiritually at Oneida. We have teachers who have given up their lives to teach us and to mentor us. Every day I grew closer to Christ because of what somebody said or did,” Shelby said.
After four years of Oneida basketball, softball and volleyball, Shelby said, “The coaches definitely pushed me and helped me reach my potential.”
Bill TerBurgh, Shelby’s basketball coach and chemistry teacher said, “I watched Shelby grow in skill, maturity and confidence. During basketball, she learned how hard it is to be a leader, to be held to a higher standard. I believe she is equipped [for] the challenge of leadership in the future.”
Shelby’s awards include Top Scorer and MVP in basketball and Most Versatile in volleyball. She earned the Highest GPA award in each sport and was named the Most Studious sophomore girl by the faculty.
An honor roll student, Shelby said, “There was no pressure here. The teachers took the time to slow down and explain it to you over and over if that’s what you needed.” Shelby took four years of commercial art at OBI and plans to study graphic design in college.
Nahom, Class of 2011
OBI’s Class of 2011 valedictorian is Nahom, pictured to the right of salutatorian Evan (story below). Nahom enrolled at OBI his freshman year as an international student from Ethiopia. He arrived with his sister, a junior at the time who graduated from OBI in 2009. “My dad was looking for schools in the U.S. for her, so she could get into a good college,” Nahom explained.
Because of OBI’s affordable tuition, Nahom was allowed to enroll with his sister rather than waiting until his junior year. This was preferable for both academic and personal reasons. “There is only one year difference between my sister and I. We grew up almost like twins, and my parents didn’t want to separate us,” Nahom said.
A gifted scholar, he began taking advanced placement classes at OBI as soon as they were available to him. He was pleased to earn the highest possible score on his AP calculus exam as a junior. He noted, “I had to pay for the test, but it saves me in college tuition since I don’t have to take the class in college.”
He took AP calculus II as an independent study course guided by his teacher, Steve Grant who said, “Nahom demonstrated greater insight and ... a depth of understanding beyond that of his peers.”
Nahom received the faculty-voted Most Studious award each year of high school and the overall Highest GPA award in grades 10-12.
Though preparing for a career in computer engineering, Nahom took time to develop his artistic talents in art and graphic design classes at OBI. He made the regional art show in both areas and plans to continue in graphic design as a hobby.
Evan, Class of 2011
Evan was a sophomore when his parents made the decision to move to Oneida and join the OBI faculty. His family learned about our ministry through their church in Alabama.
Having been home- schooled for about two years, Evan looked forward to the opportunity to meet new people at a new school. “I made a lot of friends here pretty quickly, especially other staff kids,” he recalled. He liked the cultural diversity among OBI’s student body. “It was all new to me, and I liked it,” he said.
Comparing his Oneida experience with his larger city back home, Evan said, “There is so much to do on campus and so many friends here who are always here. ... I have more free time with them and can play more sports with them. In Alabama, I had to call and make plans a week ahead if I wanted to see my friends.”
Evan had played sports growing up, like baseball for seven years. At OBI, he enjoyed more playing time and recognition of hishard work by coaches and teachers. He said, “At OBI, my efforts really did pay off.”
His soccer coach and Spanish teacher, Mike Waslewski noted, “Evan shows exceptional character in whatever he does. He is a great example of a student athlete.”
Evan was named the Most Outstanding sophomore and junior boy by the OBI faculty. He also received the Best Defense award in soccer and two Golden Glove awards in baseball. At Oneida, he earned the Highest GPA award three years in a row in both baseball and soccer.
Evan was a top scholar who began taking advanced placement classes as a junior. He graduated as OBI’s salutatorian with a GPA above 4.0 and said he is “strongly considering” majoring in pre-medicine in college.
Liz, Class of 2011
Adopted at age 10 after two and a half years in foster care, Liz said that middle school was a difficult time for her both at home and at school in Ohio. “I just didn’t listen. ... I would never answer questions. I would lie. ... I refused to work,” she said.
She enrolled at OBI as a freshman and explained that she found it easier to obey rules at OBI because they seemed more objective and less personal. She explained, “I did my chores here. I did the same things my parents had me do at home, it was just different here. I tried to argue here, but I just got in trouble, so I stopped arguing. I finally understood that you don’t have a choice about [working] every day.”
Staying active in cocurriculars at OBI helped Liz improve her attitude. “If I don’t keep myself busy, I tend to get bored and annoyed,” she said.
She participated in volleyball, cheerleading, softball, tennis and swimming. She was a member of the choir and the FFA for two years and worked occasionally on the farm.
Her work experience at OBI helped Liz to shape her career goals. “I work better in structure,” she learned. She would like to join the Army after she completes two years of college.
Liz made the honor roll each year thanks in part to teacher availability in class and at nightly study hall. She said, “The teachers will talk to you more which makes it easier to learn. There are people you can ask for help no matter what time of day.”
Having accepted Christ when she was much younger, being a student at OBI gave Liz the opportunity to attend church regularly and fellowship with other believers. “That was another good reason to be at OBI,” she added.
Christian houseparents and coaches became spiritual mentors to Liz. “I was glad to know there were [staff] willing to sit down with you and answer any questions,” she added.
One such mentor was Emily Kelley, OBI’s middle school principal and girls’ dorm devotion group leader who said, “Liz is an amazing young lady who has endured a lot of personal battles ... [and] does not give up when the going gets tough.”
Liz concluded, “This school has changed me a lot. I don’t argue as much, and I’ve gotten closer to my parents and to God. ... I’m thankful that my parents sent me here."
Michael, Class of 2011
Michael lives about five miles from campus and enrolled at OBI as a day student in the seventh grade. “My dad went to school here and liked it, so I figured I’d go where he went. Basically, all my family went to school here ... I love it,” he said.
For Michael, the main benefit in attending OBI was smaller classes. “I have friends [in other schools] that have 30-35 people in a class. It’s hard to learn when you’ve got that many. It seems like you learn a lot more in small classes,” he said.
Michael received basic knowledge of scripture in daily chapel and Bible classes. He said, “I wasn’t really raised in a Christian environment. I’ve learned a lot since I came here.”
Michael enrolled in the senior Field Placement program and was assigned to work for OBI Athletic Director Laura Stockton. “Michael’s daily assignments varied depending on what sports were in season. He was a hard worker and a tremendous blessing. I never doubted that whatever the errand or job, he would see it through and do it well,” Stockton said.
Having helped with the refinishing of the gymnasium floor, Michael’s main task during the school year was to keep it clean, a job that intensified during the busy basketball season. Stockton noted, “The fact that he was part of the refinishing ... surely influenced him as he cared for the floor during the year.”
Michael plans to begin a vocational program after graduation. “I’ll miss everything at OBI. It went by fast,” he said.
Julia, Class of 2011
Julia was in the sixth grade when she and her older sister, Teah, enrolled at OBI. At home in North Carolina, their single-parent mother wanted her girls to have adequate supervision after school.
Julia recalled with a smile, “My perspective of Kentucky changed after I got here. Not trying to be racist, but I thought my sister and I would be the only black people here.”
At OBI, Julia met students from all walks of life. She also gained insight into her personal heritage when she met teenagers from Liberia. “We ate the same. We dressed alike. We listened to the same music. I felt very connected to the Liberians,” Julia said.
Though she experienced homesickness at first, Julia enjoyed the sense of independence that comes with living at boarding school. Her sister graduated from OBI in 2010, and Julia said that while she missed her this year, “I really liked her not telling me what to do!” The sisters were roommates in middle school and separated for high school, but Julia noted, “Teah always took care of me, like making sure I had washed my clothes.”
A Christian, Julia was well known on campus for her compassion and friendliness toward others. “I really like helping people,” she said. She plans to enroll in a nursing program in college this fall.
Julia’s dependability and servant-leadership gifting were recognized early at OBI. She was made a supervisor on her kitchen cleaning crew as a sixth grader. “When it came to work, I just did it. ... I really liked the responsibility of getting to work first and showing the other workers what to do. I would lead by example,” she said.
Julia participated in track, volleyball, basketball, cross country and cheerleading. She was also the First Runner Up in the Yearbook Queen pageant for senior girls. What many do not know about Julia is that she has cerebral palsy which affects her legs. She wore leg braces all of her life to help with her balance, but she made the decision in the seventh grade to stop wearing them. “I wanted to feel normal,” she said.
Julia has to work a little harder and concentrate more on her movements, but she never lets that slow her down. She said, “I don’t see myself as having a disability. I’m walking, I’m capable of doing things. Why not take advantage of doing sports when I have the time?”
She earned Highest GPA awards in each of her sports plus the Most Improved award in choir. The OBI faculty named her the Most Studious as an eighth grader and a junior and the Most Outstanding in grades nine through twelve. Julia also received OBI’s highest graduation honor, the William A. Evans Award.
Her cross country and track coach, Lance Nutter observed, “Julia is a dedicated Christian girl with more maturity than most teenagers. ... She went outside her comfort level to try new things [like sports] and she was a very smart and hard working student who applied herself in all of her classes and took many AP classes. Julia stands out as a super amazing girl who we will certainly miss.”
Having always earned top grades, Julia said, “To me, school comes first so if I’m struggling in a class, I try my hardest to bring that grade up.” She added that she never dropped a class because it was hard. Instead, she would get extra help from the teacher and spend more time studying. “I’m not a quitter. I’m a fighter. Sometimes you have to struggle in life to find success,” she said.
Why did Julia remain a student at OBI, even after she was old enough to stay home alone? “The people and the staff,” she said.