SIDNEY — A graduate of Christian Academy Schools told of how a strong foundation in her faith turned her life around and onto a better path during the 38th Annual CAS Faith Banquet Sunday.
The gathering allows community donors, students, families and staff to gather to discuss their roles in providing a faith-based education and the results, according to Superintendent Mary Smith.
In her opening referring to a large wooden cross on the wall of the gymnasium, Smith said in part, “I want you to focus on the cross above us. That wooden cross was a gift of the class of 2010, and I just love that all that goes on in this room is ‘always’ under that cross.”
“Although Christian Academy has been in existence since 1978, it seems every year we are presented with new overwhelming challenges, but our Lord has always answered our prayers (noting Phil. 6:1). I want you feel confident that the funds you are providing each year are not being wasted in any way, but rather our students continue to obtain some very impressive results academically.”
Known as Jessica Clark when she graduated CAS in 2005, the now Mrs. Guillozet resides with her “imperfectly perfect family” in Maplewood.
For the past eight years, Guillozet has served with Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities as the Community Connections Facilitator. She assists those with disabilities become connected to their community through recreation and volunteerism.
Referring to her life choices that ultimately blessed her life with a daughter out of wedlock, Guillozet said it was her time at CAS and the support she received that proved to her that many people cared. Turning her life around, Guillozet leads a faith-based life, works on maintaining a strong family unit and is on a career path to help others.
In part, Guillozet said, “There have been two major life lessons that changed everything about me. I want to talk to you about the benefits of being challenged; and is how my ‘community of supports’, family, friends, and teachers helped me overcome the obstacles that I faced. I also want to speak to you about the importance of a strong community and why we should strive to do everything in love.”
Guillozet began attending Christian Academy in the seventh-grade. She recalled her parents loved her unconditionally. Her brother, a year older, was already enrolled at CAS when she began there. As things became more difficult, Guillozet began to rethink which place was best for her academically. By the third week of school, the family was convinced that CAS was her best option.
“My mom lives by the scripture 2 Corinthians 5:7, ‘For we live by Faith, not by sight.’ My mom now had two children attending Christian Academy; she had to pick up extra hours at work and worked a part time job to make enough money for our tuition. She also helped clean the school. I now realize how dedicated my mom was to get her children through school, regardless the price she had to pay.”
Initially experiencing positive relationships with teachers and fellow students, Guillozet admitted she was waiting for them to “flip roles” and reveal a negative side.
“Everything remained the same. The teachers continued to show their love for the students and each other. I felt their love despite my attitude, despite my unwillingness to allow anyone in my space, and despite any of the baggage that I carried. This was something that I needed, as I was lacking positive reinforcement during this time in my life.”
She pointed out that Principal Rusty Kirkpatrick having faith in her as she struggled in high school as strengthening her faith.
“Did he give me several detentions and Saturday Schools? Yes, but he always told me I would thank him some day for holding me accountable. Did I think he was crazy, pretty much?”
It took a life altering event to begin a true understanding of life for Guillozet.
“In 2007, God blessed me with a child, Miah Huelskamp. This is something that went against all I’d been taught. Having a child outside of wedlock is wrong, I know this. Some of you may be wondering why I am standing here telling you this part of my story. I feel this is the most important thing I want to get across to everyone. None of us are perfect, we all make mistakes. We ask God’s forgiveness and we move on. If you strive on all of the ‘not so smart’ things that you have done in your life, you will remain weak.”
“After Miah’s birth, I came to understand what unconditional love was. It was no longer about me. I started looking back on the morals that Christian Academy instilled into us. Proverbs 22:6 says, ‘Train a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.’ I am living proof of these words.”
She added the long time support of her CAS friends; staff and administrators for her and her family were paramount.
“In June of 2012, I married my best friend, Frank Guillozet. Frank encourages me to excel in all that I do. He never complains about my work schedule or my limited abilities in the kitchen. He strives to make his family happy, thinking of himself last. Frank married into a packaged deal. Often times I wonder how hard that must be. Frank’s love for Miah is effortless.
“In 2014, God blessed Frank and me with a second child, Charlee Grace. Charlee completes our imperfectly perfect family.”
Guillozet reflected on her years at Christian Academy, by quoting Benjamin Franklin stating, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn.”
“I am forever grateful for my experience at Christian Academy. I may have forgotten bits and pieces of what they said to me throughout the years but I will never forget how they made me feel. Christian Academy educated my heart while educating my mind.”
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.