Latham Christian Academy is privileged to have six graduating seniors during the 2016 – 2017 school year. Many of these members of the Class of 2017 have attended LCA for a long time, and they have all contributed a great deal to the ministry here. Each remaining month during the school year, we will be highlighting one of the seniors in an article published in our Knightline newsletter. We continue this week with senior Matthew Heller.
Matthew Heller has been at LCA since K5, a true “lifer”! While Matthew fondly remembers friends Yash and Sagar, only classmate Kallie Parker has remained at LCA this long. The Heller family heard of LCA through friends at church, the Cunninghams, who have had their two children at LCA as well.
Matthew’s father, John Heller, was born in Troy and grew up there before eventually moving to Schenectady. He graduated from Mohonasen High School and went away to SUNY-Brockport where he majored in communications. Eventually Rev. Heller moved back to the area and worked for The Record in management. Today Matthew’s father works at Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corporation as well as at H&R Block during tax season. He also serves as assistant to the pastor at Free Spirit Fellowship in Ballston Spa.
Matthew’s mother, Marie, was born and raised in Peekskill. In fact, her sister today lives in the same house where they grew up. The future Mrs. Heller graduated from Hendrick Hudson High School and then attended Russell Sage College. After graduating from there, she went on to the University of South Carolina to earn her Master’s Degree in public health education. Once she completed her degree there, Matthew’s mother came back to this area and worked at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club in Rotterdam. Today Mrs. Heller works at Literacy Volunteers of Rensselaer County as a volunteer coordinator with adult ESL students.
Matthew’s parents first saw each other in Troy when his mother was waiting at a bus stop. The two began talking and she missed her bus. Of course, Matthew’s father volunteered to give her a ride home. They soon began dating. When the future Mrs. Heller decided to head off to South Carolina for her graduate work, Mr. Heller decided to lend his car to her so that she would have to see him to return it once she returned! They were engaged on Valentine’s Day 1981 and married a year later. They recently celebrated their 35th anniversary together!
Matthew came along in 1999 as the only child of his parents. Much of his early life has been spent either at LCA or at his church, Free Spirit Fellowship. Matthew was dedicated there and came to know the Lord on June 4, 2006. A few weeks later, on Father’s Day, he was also baptized at this church. Matthew has been involved in the music ministry where he sings and plays the piano and in several outreach programs. He has also helped his church begin a daughter work in Watervliet where he also helps with the music ministry. Matthew and his parents have been at church whenever the doors are open, whether for worship, prayer meeting, or even work days!
Matthew has many memories of his time at LCA. He fondly recalls Mrs. Parker’s “crazy ways to remember things,” Mr. Fry’s jumping on the desk because of a forum post messed up by the class and his sports analogies only Matthew “got,” and Mrs. Walter’s dedication to Scriptures and applying that to her science lessons.
Matthew also appreciates Mrs. O’Rourke putting up with his “Senioritis” this year and being someone he can always talk to about anything. In addition, Matthew remembers how Mrs. Kettlewood listens to and cares about anything students have to say to her and especially remembers their frequent conversations about the Yankees beating the Red Sox!
Matthew has also enjoyed being part of the “Big Three” along with juniors Josh Arthur and Matthew Mansfield. They had their first class together in a combined 3rd and 4th grade classroom where they played basketball in PE together. They continued to build memories through the years.
Playing on LCA’s basketball team has also been special for Matthew. His best memory of his time on the team came recently, on senior night last month. He remembers this as “the most emotional game I’ve ever played.” Of course, coming out with the victory after “the longest quarter of my life” after never losing the lead sealed the memory for him.
Perhaps Matthew’s best memory from LCA has been his time with girlfriend and classmate Macey Ryan. Macey came to LCA in 9th grade. Matthew recalls, “She thought I was weird!” After Macey left for public school for a year, the two began a friendship at the end of 10th grade and began dating in the summer of 2015. Matthew points out, “She keeps me motivated to finish well. She encourages me to smile when I’ve had a bad day. It wouldn’t be the same if we weren’t together for our senior year.” Matthew says that he is excited to see how God will lead them in the future and how they may grow closer to each other through God.
This fall, Matthew plans to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and major in biomedical engineering. Matthew is excited about this school and program because “it’s very interesting engineering, a new field.” He goes on to say, “This allows you to impact people directly with new inventions.” Matthew appreciates that RPI is close to home and says that this is the kind of place where he could really see himself. He also is confident that this is God’s will, even though it is not the least expensive school. Matthew is excited to see how God will help supply the need of paying for his schooling.
Matthew’s life verse comes from Acts 2:38-39, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”