Forest Lake Academy was a dream that I held from a small child. My father, Martin Russ, graduated in 1939 from FLA and we grew up hearing about his adventures and pranks during his time here. We (three daughters) couldn’t wait to be at FLA, so in 1956, our parents bought a home in Forest City just a few miles from FLA. They transferred me from Orlando Church School and I joined the first grade class at Forest Lake Church School. I made friends that year and several of them (including some from Orlando Church School) continued through all 12 grades and we graduated in May of 1968.
Our eighth grade class (1964) was the last class to graduate in the old Administration Building as it burned to the ground during that summer. Our freshman year, we spent time rushing to classes at the most unusual classroom locations, while plans were made to build the new admin building. We were blessed to have wonderful Christian teachers who were patient when we didn’t quite make it on time but they also taught us the value of time. Completing assignments timely, attending all classes and required meetings, arriving on time for work and other activities. Yes, they helped us grow up into the adults we are today.
I remember band trips to Florida churches where we shared our talents under the direction of Mrs. Pat Silver. I remember Jim Tucker. I had him for Bible and for Biology – he was an awesome teacher. There was Clinton Anderson, Mr. Walden and Wanda Brace who encouraged me with English. To this day, I still notice incorrect grammar and spelling and it bugs me. I also spent several years proof-reading for a local print shop.
Who ever dreamed back then that the Spanish classes under Ms. Dollie Rolls would ever be used here in Florida. Not only used, but needed, to communicate with our increasing Hispanic population. I tried so hard to roll my R’s but still cannot do so, so matter how many times I repeat “better butter” as she instructed us to do.
Mr. James Lynn, a fantastic math teacher, whetted my interest in numbers and Mrs. Ruth Blair added to that interest by teaching me bookkeeping. I retired after 40 years of accounting in the Orlando area and I owe my success to the teachers at Forest Lake Academy.
There have been many changes through the years but Forest Lake Academy still represents the best in Christian education. There is long distance learning. They use computers for so many things, including word processing (we used manual typewriters) and not as many students in the dorms. The music department is still great and the talent is surely God-given. The focus on faith and ministry is more than what we had, but times have changed and this earth needs Christ more each day.
I can’t wait to join my friends in Heaven. Forest Lake Homecoming weekends are great, but our Homecoming Reunion in Heaven will far exceed every expectation we can dream of.
PLEASE, MEET ME IN HEAVEN. I’ll be looking for you.