"One of the things we are quite rightfully happy about is that JRHS has achieved quite a remarkable milestone this year – celebrating 30 years of offering a robust and diverse CE to the boys and girls of southern NH. What I will attempt to do in the next few minutes is to tell you some of the story of God at JRHS, since our inception in the early 90’s. In particular, I want to share with you, a gathering of the Financial Partners, how the investors of the first 30 years have taken JRHS from a one room schoolhouse to now a nationally accredited, creative and diverse program of studies that touches many corners of the world. Perhaps most importantly, a program that launches young people into the world of Kingdom Living and Advancement.
Consider some simple math, to set the context of our story. If God’s faithful people averaged $60,000 per year of donated income, then, we would have realized and invested 2 million dollars into the program. The 60k is in fact conservative, when we consider one time giving, capital giving, in kind giving, mission trip or athletic giving, special project giving – and more. To the point: God’s faithful people have invested much in this fine institution.
We don’t know a lot about our namesake, Pastor Jesse Remington, but we do know a lot about the Enlightenment culture and worldview he lived in – best known or labelled as “Deism”.
They believed in God the Clockmaker; he got things going, but God is not active in the day-to-day affairs of life. They believed Jesus was a good teacher, but was not a king, not a savior. Hence the Trinity was eroded, hence the word Deism; we hear the root word for two, not three. They believed that Man is really the center of all things, in control of his life’s direction and eternity. Pastor Remington was a passionate teacher of biblical truth, and stood against the philosophy of his day.
JRHS made its debut in September of 1992, 200 years after the ministry of Remington into his culture. We took students to his gravesite that first day, and every first day since, and we have pledged to be an agent of God in an ever increasingly secular culture.
On day one, we opened with 12 students, two teachers whose combined age didn’t even add to 50. One church basement, my office was a broom closet. When we added the 19th century schoolhouse, we thought we had really arrived with 2 buildings and a lawn in between! Annual tuition was under $1,500, and my annual salary was $9,200.
The first need for significant money came in the late 1990s, when the possibility of moving to or adding in Stevens Lane came to fruition. I have come to learn that God has a habit of working in, around and for us long before we know it.
As a 12-year-old boy, I was the lawn boy for Mary Stevens – right there! Years later, I learned that it was more about the root beer and the conversation than it was the $5 or the 15 minutes to mow the tiny lawn. In 1996, Mary called me in the last years of her life, and said she was selling her home, and how important it would be to her if it could be used for the Church and the School. We church men visited and refused her offer three times. We could see no use for her tiny property. Then I chose to knock on neighboring door, (meaning that one right there!) and inquired of their future. When these 2 parcels came together as one, now we could see a future “campus.” It is this campus, precipitated by little old Mary Stevens’ faith, that has been the hub of learning and life at JRHS
The addition of the SL campus was a signpost of God’s plan for JRHS. And it required significant money from investors, some of you are here today at this event. In the early years of the new century, we came to realize that we were a great program, but it was not rooted in a firm mission, and that became our focus – to solidify what we stood for, and to codify it in a mission statement. Soon thereafter, The Mission Celebration was born, asking people to invest in that mission, much like we are doing here today. After several renditions and revisions, we landed on the hallmark statement:
Jesse Remington High School is a Christian Community of Students and Faculty, pursuing wisdom, knowledge and understanding, and is committed to raising this generation of youth to be effective leaders for Jesus Christ.
The mission has served as both the moral compass, and the rallying cry for what is important to us. It brings in the right people and creates a proper fence of protection around us and what we believe. It is the programs and people of this statement that our Financial Partners invest in.
The people. Ah yes, God’s chosen people. There have been scores of God’s faithful servants who have served so well in their assigned roles. There are of course the Teachers, those who roll out the mission day by day to the wondering, wandering pupils. Then there are the Staff members, those who work in administrative capacities, and keep the programs moving forward There are the Board Members, those who make a commitment to serve JRHS through Governance. Today we are also blessed to have alumni with us, those who have been served by a JRHS education. Your investment back into your Alma Mater carries significant meaning. It is the people that make JRHS great, and an estimated ¾ of the annual operating budget goes to remunerating our people. The faithful Financial Partners support our people.
One such person is here today. Mr. Scott Shillaber has been a faithful FP to JRHS since his children first came in the early 2000’s. Scott began as an incredibly faithful campus steward, serving with time and talent in some not very pleasant jobs that others didn’t want to do. In 2016, Scott came to me announcing his first retirement from his career at Sanborn, Head and Associates, and shared how he wanted to now invest in more direct Kingdom work. Scott became our accreditation lead, and soon the Business Manager. Some of you know that Scott is retiring again this year, moving on to serve the Lord in other ways. It will be nearly impossible to quantify the degree of service and guidance Scott has been to JRHS in his six-year tenure. He has formed JRHS as a reputable business, has clarified our non-profit and working relationship with the Church, has developed our donor management system and practices, created the HR department, helped with structure, policy and governance – this and so, so so much more. Scott, from all of us gathered here today, we can’t thank you enough for what you have done. And although he would not want me to say this, you have done great things for JRHS, and you leave big tracks to fill. We wait patiently to see who God has next for the position.
In 2017 we celebrated 25 years and raised the Ebenezer monument right behind me. An ebenezer, a “stone of help”, comes from Samuel’s lifetime, when he gathered the people, and commemorated a monument, stating, “Thus Far, God has Done This.” It is good for us to set markers that proclaim and remind us of what God has done and is doing in our lives.
In 2018, we achieved our first, and long overdue national accreditation though the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. My proposed 2-year journey towards accreditation evolved into 4 profitable years of inward evaluating, and outward building to increase the structure and footprint of the school. Now, 5 years after our accomplishment, I have been asked to serve on the Commission for Independent Schools, and I assist other schools in NE pursuing their accreditation reviews.
Accreditation helped us clarify several things, one was our Expected Student Outcomes. The educational marketplace has changed radically since we began in the early 90’s. Now, when educational options are widely available and some are comparatively easy and inexpensive, our ESO’s have put a flag in the ground as to what the high and even eternal values are of a JRHS education. Spiritual, Academic, Professional and Relational Formation; the Biblical World View; and Skill Development are the core elements of a student’s experience.
2020 and beyond was of course figuring out how to run a school in the Covid era, which was an uninvited challenge, but God brought us through strong. These later years has also brought closure to a 20 year story, and I refer to the advent of the lovely Smyth Memorial Building. A former town Public Library, it closed in 2001. God chose to open the doors for us to begin to use the building in the spring of 2020, and at this time last year, we had less than $10,000 available for that proposed $150,000 renovation. God’s faithful people rose to the call of duty at every level. We raised the money; broke ground June 14, and were complete and ready to use it for God’s purposes by Labor Day. What a remarkable story that was. We would welcome anyone who hasn’t seen the building to take a brief tour later today and see for yourself what an inspiring learning space it is. Point out Susan – to tour.
We will graduate 11 Seniors this year on June 18, and that will conclude 30 years of faithful, creative and life forming Christian education at JRHS. More, the CCC celebrates 250 years of ministry, of which Pastor Remington factored significantly in the early years. We will never know the full extent of the impact our little school has had on the world. Over 240 graduates, and hundreds more who have attended a year or more. They have been offered both a substantial education, as well as a formative one, in a certain direction we are very proud of. Our Alumni are, or will become, the leaders of our families, churches, towns, state, nation and world. They have been given a rich education, set within a biblical world view, that informs how they view all things.
By way of conclusion to my part of our afternoon together, I want to issue a big Thank You to our Financial Partners who have helped to make all this possible. JRHS is bigger, stronger and more influential given your love, care and investment into this fine organization.
For this 30 year story, God led us to a very fitting verse for this occasion, found on the front of today’s program, from 2 Cor 9:8. We have lived this verse over and over during our blessed existence:
“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound”