A Cheetah Goes to School

October 14, 2019 | Education | Andrea Jackson

God is doing amazing things right now at Oregon's Roseburg Junior Academy (RJA). There are many different places in the Bible where Jesus tells either the children to come to Him or tells adults to get out of the way of the children. It is very clear Jesus loves children and they have a special and valued place in His kingdom. As Seventh-day Adventists, we are extremely blessed to be part of an incredible educational system that not only believes in providing the best private academic education but also believes in the importance of showing kids just how awesome Jesus is and that Jesus has special plans for each of them.

RJA celebrated the first day of school with two extra special visitors this year. It is still a little unclear who was the most excited to see these guests: the students, the teachers, or the staff. At 10:30 a.m., the entire school gathered in the gym and waited with baited breath to meet Khayam Jr., the cheetah, and his best friend, Rhino, a dog. Khayam Jr. and Rhino are local residents at Wildlife Safari in Winston, Ore. RJA is blessed to have an Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited facility so close to its campus. In fact, Wildlife Safari is home to the best cheetah breeding program outside of Africa, a fact many RJA students share with others pretty regularly.

As students, faculty and staff learned about how many spots a cheetah has and how a cheetah’s claws work, they were able to watch as the cheetah explored all of the RJA stage and gym. The cheetah climbed over the choir risers, sniffed the piano and jumped off the stage.

This is a beautiful and inquisitive creature God made it especially for us. Sometimes it is easy to get wrapped up in the day to day struggles of life, especially in a school setting. The focus can turn away from God and what He is doing. Instead, there is the struggle of the budget, worrying about enrollment, planning fundraisers and making sure homework is being turned in. While watching Khayam Jr., the RJA community was reminded God has created wonderful things and each of us is one of His unique and incredible creations. The RJA community saw firsthand the support that Rhino gave to Khayam Jr. and was reminded Jesus is our support. When we go into a scary or exciting new situation, such as the first day of school, He is there to walk beside us and calm us.

After Khayam Jr. and Rhino returned to Wildlife Safari, RJA students gathered into groups scattered around the gym. In each group, there were students ranging from kindergarten through eighth grade. Each group was given a poster board, crayons and markers. Then they were told to work as a group to make a poster depicting what they had learned and how they felt after meeting Khayam Jr. and Rhino.

RJA believes each student enrolled is important and is a leader. A large part of leadership is teamwork. It is also about forming bonds between older students and younger students. These are students who are now looking for glimpses of God through the nature around them, through their classmates and through their own actions. It is exciting to see what else God has in store for RJA and all His schools this year.