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Because of the teachers...

"As an alum, ODCS has provided me with a haven for my kids that I know is Christ-centered and safe. They are surrounded with people I know and respect. How wonderful that many of the people I grew up with are now teaching my own children. Having that connection means a lot to me. The teachers here are amazing! They are quick to help with any concern I might have. They have stayed late to work with one of my children and give up their lunch period if my child needs the extra help. The staff communicates with me when they know my child is having a rough time with something happening in our personal lives. Having that security is priceless to me as a parent." - Jessica Ralich, Class of 1998, and ODCS parent

Because it changed the course of her life...

"I was an ODCS foreign exchange student from Brazil 1991-92. Sometimes I look my photos and remember the good times! If I could, I would visit all of you at ODCS again. Since I was 9-years-old, I wanted to learn to speak English. Going to US was a dream come true and having gone to ODCS during my teenage years was the best for the life of any girl! I made good friends, was very well received, and my faith grew. I am forever grateful to the Edgar family for opening their home and hearts to me and being my American parents for that year.  When the year was done, I planned on going home to become a doctor.

But as soon as I returned to Brazil, English schools in my town wanted to hire me because of the beautiful English I was speaking, without an accent. So I decided to work as a teacher to pay for my studies and never stopped.  I went to college, but I did not study medicine. I graduated in pedagogy. Having gone to ODCS opened the door for me here in Brazil!  I taught English for over 20 years...I've been married since 1995, and we have two children, Nicholas and Nicole. I am still living in the same city I was born, Vila Velha, in the state of Espirito Santo, Brazil.

Although I have never returned to the US, I use English in my daily life...classes, reading articles, and movies. I have been teaching my children to speak English; expecting them to be more successful as speaking English will open the way to a better life.  Maybe one day I can send them to ODCS too, as my parents did."-ODCS foreign exchange student from Brazil 1991-92

Because he felt prepared for college and life...

"The teachers at ODCS cared about us and invested time in us!  I feel I learned a lot. Without the teachers, the coaches and my friends/teammates, I would not be where I am today. Coach Wright and I have recently become closer over my college years. I want to thank him for all he has done for me. He never gave up on me; I look at him as my role model.  I felt prepared for college both academically and spiritually. To be honest, I wouldn't change anything at ODCS. I had enough to challenge me academically without overwhelming me. For example, even though some classes were very difficult (Mrs. Burger), she always took the time with me after school to help me...  I am very thankful for that!" -Abe Valentine, Class of 2011

Because they had loving role models...

Tom Fishburn (’90) is living in Texas where he works as a high school Physics and Astronomy teacher and the Youth Pastor at his church.  Tom was blessed to marry his high school sweetheart, Sara (Walker) (’92), who is a middle school Educational Diagnostician.  The path to entering the field of education was drastically different for both Tom and Sara, but each have found great satisfaction in helping students succeed.  When Tom graduated from ODCS he had no intent of teaching, but rather had set his sights on broadcasting and/or advertising.  It was through Sara’s insight and gentle nudging that Tom decided to go back to school and earn his degree in Science Education.  As a teacher, Tom states “satisfaction comes when even a single student suddenly ‘gets it’ and is suddenly excited about learning. Seeing the success of just one student makes all the struggles worthwhile.”

Sara, on the other hand, always had a passion for students with disabilities and knew right away she was meant to teach people with disabilities.  After receiving her Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in Special Education, for 12 years Sara taught students with a variety of disabilities before becoming an Educational Diagnostician.   Through the years, Sara has watched public education evolve and change.   “There are a lot of laws and regulations in public education intended to help students that are often a hindrance.”  Despite it all, Sara states, “I love being a part of assisting struggling students in becoming the best they can be.”

ODCS will always be a special place for Tom and Sara.  For Sara, “the staff and teachers helped me discover my strengths…Through sports, awesome friends, and unconditional continuous love and support from my teachers, I discovered my true God, myself, and my husband at ODCS.”  Sara thanks ODCS “for teaching me that relationships are our greatest asset.”  Tom shares, “my teachers and coaches were so supportive and caring. They were always there to encourage and motivate…I took it for granted then, but I am now eternally grateful!  I didn't realize the extent of their influence until I was in a classroom of my own.”- Tom Fisbourn, Class of 1990, and Sara (Walker),Class of 1992


Because a teacher pushed him...

Tim Carmany (’03) attended Malone University where he majored in theater.  After attending Malone University, Tim lived in Chicago where he worked for a traveling theater group and from there moved to Philadelphia to work in event production.  Tim eventually made the decision to move to the Canton area to pursue art and start his own studio.  He is now the owner of the art studio, The Hub, and the driving force behind an art district in downtown Canton.  Of starting his own studio, Tim states, “I really wanted a space where I could be making art that was filled with people around me making art at the same time.”  Tim credits Mr. Wallace, ODCS Art Teacher, for encouraging him as he explored and worked with different art media.  To this day, Tim continues to recall what Mr. Wallace took the time to teach him.-Tim Carmany, Class of 2003

Because she had a strong spiritual foundation....

Courtney Gillberg (’09) graduated from The University of Oklahoma in May 2013 with a degree in Air Traffic Management and a General Business minor.   This past year Courtney participated in The World Race - a journey to visit 11 countries in 11 months with the mission of reaching others for Christ.  Courtney chose to participate in The World Race because “there is nothing more important in this world than a relationship with Christ.  It is my desire to be involved in missions wherever I go.”  While participating in The World Race, Courtney enjoyed seeing how different ministries from various parts of the world all worked for the common goal of bringing people to Christ.  Courtney states, “Different people have different hearts, some for orphans, some widows, some youth.  The list goes on,  and it may appear that all of these ministries are different.  In reality, though, they are all the same and are united by their drive to see others find Jesus.”  Courtney was faced with the reality that “bringing Jesus to people usually means getting out of your comfort zone…Sharing the Gospel requires vulnerability, discipline, self-sacrifice, and effort.  We don’t reach the nations for Christ by sitting on the couch.  We have to get up; we have to move; we have to actually do something.”  

As for now, Courtney is enjoying catching up with people and visiting places she missed while gone.  She has no immediate plans to leave the country again, but plans to stay involved in overseas missions.  Of her time at ODCS, Courtney shares, “ODCS set a spiritual foundation for me that I have continued to work on and grow in over the years.  In my time since graduating from ODCS I have often worked at jobs or volunteered with organizations that use a combination of spiritual emphasis and athletics, art, or music to share the Gospel.  My experiences at ODCS have helped me be better equipped for serving in such capacities.”- Courtney Gillberg, Class of 2009


Because he has pride in his country...

Matthew Brackenhoff (’10) attended Indiana Wesleyan University while serving in the Indiana Army National Guard.  Matthew joined the National Guard because it allowed him to serve his country while pursuing his Bachelors of Science degree in Exercise Science as a full-time student.  In the spring of 2014, Matthew graduated and is currently serving as a platoon leader for Bravo Co. 2-151st Infantry Regiment.  Matthew most enjoys being an infantry officer.  He states, “in the past four years, the Army and Indiana Army National Guard have taught me the fundamentals of leadership, teamwork, and pride for our nation's history and military.”  

Matthew is looking forward to starting graduate school in the summer of 2016 where he plans to enter an entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy program in Ohio.  Matthew attributes ODCS, Indiana Wesleyan University, and the Army for influencing the person he is today.  He states, “I am grateful for each of these organizations being a part of shaping me throughout my life thus far.”- Matthew Brackenhoff, Class of 2010

Because he learned the discipline he needed to succeed...

Kristoffer Hudson (’10) attended Capital University to pursue a degree in Music Education with a History minor.  Kris is now fulfilling a lifelong dream by serving in the United States Marine Corps as a musician in the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band.  Kris’ dad and grandfather both served as Marines, and he “always dreamed of being able to put on the same uniform.”  Kris enjoys the opportunities he has been given to play in various towns around the country and hear stories from other Marines.  “Whenever we play at a parade in some city, no matter how big, or small, you get a rush as you see the Marines standing in the crowd yelling ‘Oorah.’ I get chills seeing sons standing beside their dad, some in Cub Scout uniforms even, who will be imitating their dad as they salute us while we march by, knowing that I once used to be that kid growing up.”  Kris has found the values of the Marine Corps - honor, courage, and commitment - to align with his walk with Christ.  “We honor God on a daily basis. He gives us the courage to stand up against the many tests and trials that may come up by committing to His word and His way of life; the results will always be better than any of us can ever imagine.”

Kris plans on staying with the Marine Corps for at least one more enlistment and hopes to become an Enlisted Conductor, which would allow him the opportunity to conduct one of ten different bands in the Marine Corps.  Kris also plans to finish his degree and fulfill another dream by one day becoming a band director.  

Kris’ time at ODCS helped shape and prepare him for the opportunities God has given him in life.  All of his experiences - whether it was accepting Christ as his Lord and Savior in Mrs. Meier’s Kindergarten class, referencing the “Golden Rod” paper he received in English class for guidance in writing essays, learning to play and appreciate music under the direction of Mr. Clark, or using the discipline he learned during baseball practice with Mr. Loescher, Mr. Tucker and Mr. Turner -  have contributed to the person Kris is today.- Kristoffer Hudson, Class of 2010