GSAA Creates Futures One Choice at a Time

Life was not handed to Jonathan DeBard on a silver platter, but he is silver-plating his future. DeBard, the youngest of seven in a merged family, has been shuffled between parents for as long as he can remember. They separated before he was born. Emotional turmoil and financial challenges are all that DeBard knew for many years. But he has had one important advantage—attending Adventist schools all but two of his 11 years.

It was hard to get an appointment with DeBard to interview him because he is so busy. He works three jobs, maintains a cumulative 3.86 grade point average, is a member of the Young Marines, plays with the bell choir, is a class officer and is a member of the gymnastic team. His teachers say he is exceptionally disciplined and mature for a 17-year-old. “If something needs to be done on the gymnastic team, DeBard usually sees it first and does it—without being asked,” says his coach, Stan Nelson.

DeBard is carrying a heavy academic load, including pre-calculus and physics. When he doesn’t understand something, he goes to his teachers for help, and they gladly give it.

Research has shown that at-risk kids can be turned into “at-promise” kids by caring adults who willingly bond with them, who help interpret the adversity that they experience, and who frequently tell them the enormous potential they see in them. DeBard has experienced this at Gem State Adventist Academy. For more information about Gem State, visit our Web site at or call (208) 459-1627 ext. 110.

July 01, 2004 / Idaho Conference