BeverlyA. Lamon wrote from the Rocky Mountain Conference where she was associate educational superintendent.

Perhaps you have read the story of a man who visited a famous jewelry store. As he observed all the precious stones and expensive gold pieces, he wondered what he would do if suddenly he were to be given many of these treasures. He decided he would need to hire guards for around-the-clock protection.

Then, suddenly, he thought of his small son at home. He certainly was a treasure, far outweighing the pearls, diamonds, or gold found in the jewelry store. The man felt humbled at the responsibility he had to guard his little boy and keep him safe. He was responsible for helping him mature, leading and guiding him properly, helping him develop into a man with Christian values. This was an awesome duty.

The church has a responsibility for its youth.

"Nothing is of greater importance than the education of our children."1 Parents are instructed: "Children should be placed in their own schools where the word of God is made the foundation of education." 2

"Seventh-day Adventists conduct their own schools, elementary through university, for the purpose of transmitting to their children their own ideals, beliefs, attitudes, values, habits, and customs... There is peculiar to the church a body of knowledge, values, and ideals that must be transmitted to the younger generation in order that the church may continue to exist." 3

We know that the more SDA education a student experiences, the more likely a student will remain in the church. Grades 9-12 have the strongest positive relationship with church retention. Warren Minder, concluding his study said, "With 98 percent retention for those who attend all 12 years in Adventist schools, it would seem that the schools provide one of the strongest evangelistic tools the Adventist church possesses." (This study found only 32 percent retention if SDA youth attended non-SDA school in all 12 years of schooling.) 4

Age 12 appears to be the most critical year for baptism of young people. If children are in church school during these critical years, they can experience in-depth exposure to Adventist beliefs and the modeling influence of Adventist teachers.

Several years ago the Seventh-day Adventist Church, via the Search Institute, conducted a survey of Adventist youth, parents, teachers, principals, and pastors. This study found that 90 percent of teachers and principals believe that Adventist schools have a quality academic program. An impressive 66 percent of Adventist academy seniors go on to a four-year college or university. National tests scores place Adventist students in the upper percentiles higher than the national average. Adventist students typically read a year above their grade level. 5

"The SDA educational system is under siege today.... Its success or failure depends upon its faithfulness to the Man who has given us the ministry of teaching.... Caring, competent teachers are the key to academic success," say our educational leaders.6

"In the near future, many children will receive the Spirit of God, and will astonish people by their powerful witness to the truth. Gather the children from schools where the ideas of the world are taught, and place them in our owns schools for this preparation time." 7 How timely are these words written by Ellen White.

Our most valuable assets as a church are our children and youth. May God bless each of us as we make decisions concerning the education of these treasures.

1 Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students, 165.
2 Counsels to Teachers, 166.
3 North American Division Education Code, K-12.
4 Minder, 1985. Doctoral dissertation.
5 "Valuegenesis 111"
6 Journal of Adventist Education, September 1990, 58.
7 Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 166, 167.

Beverly A. Lamon wrote from the Rocky Mountain Conference where she was associate educational superintendent.