My name is Lucas, and I have been a student at Cookson Hills since March of 2019. When I first arrived, I didn’t have any idea what to expect. To be honest, I didn’t even know what Cookson Hills was a week and a half before I arrived. My parents found out about it only a few weeks before I did. My parents were looking for a Christian-based place located fairly close to them that could help me get back on track.
Let me be clear – the reason I am a student at Cookson Hills is all me. I do not come from a broken home. I was never abused, always taken care of, and always reminded that I was loved and I had a purpose in this world. However, despite all of that, once I stepped into my sophomore year of high school, I had decided that I was too good for this whole “Jesus thing.” I went my own way and made my own path. I rejected everything I had been taught my entire life and did my own thing. As a result, my grades turned to trash; I was hanging around with a lot of people I shouldn’t have. I was constantly getting in trouble at school.
All of this quickly triggered a domino effect; every other aspect of my life was headed in a downward spiral. I knew there was something wrong, but I was having fun, so I didn’t care.
Eventually, I lost all respect for my family, attempted to move out, and hit a hard wall emotionally and spiritually. Everyone in my life could see I was going down a self-destructive path. This is when Cookson Hills conveniently popped up in my parent’s lives. They decided that was where they wanted me to go. I had my tour, and five days later my parents dropped me off and I was an official student at Cookson Hills.
While at Cookson Hills, I have had a lot of time to meet, bond, and learn from all of the people here. I have had a lot of fun playing basketball, hanging out, socializing, going to school, and creating meaningful relationships with fellow students, houseparents, teachers, and staff.
While living here, I have never really had that one moment that has shaped me into who I am…I get those moments each day. It seems like every day, I get a word of wisdom or a correction that is continuing to help me be the best person I can be for God and the people in my life. Influential people are surrounding me and building me up. Anytime I get a chance to get some wisdom from a houseparent, teacher, or staff member, I take it.
The most influential people I have had on campus are my houseparents, the Gutierrezes; Mr. Curry, my Bible teacher and cross country coach; and Mr. Tinkler, another housedad here at Cookson Hills. These people, along with all the other staff at Cookson Hills, have given me some serious applicable wisdom. I can’t thank them enough for everything they do and continue to do for me on a daily basis.
Coming to Cookson Hills has helped me in many different ways. When I first arrived, I was an egotistical jerk who only cared about himself. I didn’t accept correction, had no respect for others, and had trashy grades. I now am working on all of those things and am on a clear path to success. In fact, just this week, I took some big next steps for my future goals; I am officially enlisted in the United States Army. After I serve three years in active duty, I plan to pursue a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice to set myself up for a future career in SWAT. I am very excited for what my future holds. I am doing all of this thanks to the continuing efforts of my parents and the daily efforts of everyone at Cookson Hills.