It was my first year as Principal, and I was forcing a new ninth-grader to take a makeup test after school. This reluctant test taker was probably one of our brightest students, but sadly he had no desire to do much work and was teetering on the edge of failure and even expulsion. School had already let out for the day and he desperately wanted to go home. With some prodding, I finally got him to sit and take the test. After about twenty minutes, much less than the hour it took all the other students, he balled up his test, threw it at his teacher, and stormed out. I managed to stop him, and after a call to his mother, I suspended him. The teacher, out of curiosity, retrieved the test and graded it. He came into my office in shock -- this student had gotten a perfect score! Sadly, within a few weeks, this student's life spiraled out of control and he had to leave Cornerstone. It was a very painful day.
Why am I sharing this? At our Thanksgiving feast on Friday, the mother of this young man, who still has another son at Cornerstone, came up to me in tears and told me her son had written her a letter from his detention facility saying, "don't let [my brother] leave Cornerstone, make sure he finishes. They love him there and will make sure he gets into a good college." As she walked away, telling me she didn't like to be seen crying, she thanked me for Cornerstone and for loving both of her sons.
So much of life in Cornerstone's context is about getting students to choose the right path. To see virtue and discipline as an unbreakable habit. To learn God's design for their life and to relish its security. These two brothers, both extremely smart and with the same opportunities, couldn't have chosen more differently. In reflection, the older brother came to Cornerstone late -- in his ninth grade year -- while the younger came early -- in his sixth grade year. I am more convinced than ever that we need to do everything we can to get more students into our program in elementary school! God, make it possible.
During this season, I am thankful to be a part of what God is doing in the lives of our students, even those that ultimately don't finish. I am praying that the younger brother will continue on his right path and that the older, who now clearly sees what we were doing at Cornerstone, will eventually choose the right path. We must do all we can to ensure this work continues. Please consider being a part of Cornerstone's work through your investment of time, resources, and prayer!