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Long road to graduation for Czech teen

  • The gradutes of Redemption Christian Academy's 2014 junior and senior high schools proudly hold their diplomas after the school's graduation Saturday at its Northfield campus. From left are senior high school graduates Davia Coles and Merri Parent, junior high school graduates Autumn Berlied, Mary Watson and Flaudel Johan Baez and senior high school graduate Milos Matiaska.<br/>Recorder/David Rainville

    The gradutes of Redemption Christian Academy's 2014 junior and senior high schools proudly hold their diplomas after the school's graduation Saturday at its Northfield campus. From left are senior high school graduates Davia Coles and Merri Parent, junior high school graduates Autumn Berlied, Mary Watson and Flaudel Johan Baez and senior high school graduate Milos Matiaska.
    Recorder/David Rainville Purchase photo reprints »

  • Redemption Christian Academy graduate Milos Matiaska, of the Czech Republic, delivers a speech at the school's graduation Saturday in Northfield.<br/>Recorder/David Rainville

    Redemption Christian Academy graduate Milos Matiaska, of the Czech Republic, delivers a speech at the school's graduation Saturday in Northfield.
    Recorder/David Rainville Purchase photo reprints »

  • Redemption Christian Academy graduate Milos Matiaska, of the Czech Republic, delivers a speech at the school's graduation Saturday in Northfield.<br/>Recorder/David Rainville

    Redemption Christian Academy graduate Milos Matiaska, of the Czech Republic, delivers a speech at the school's graduation Saturday in Northfield.
    Recorder/David Rainville Purchase photo reprints »

  • The gradutes of Redemption Christian Academy's 2014 junior and senior high schools proudly hold their diplomas after the school's graduation Saturday at its Northfield campus. From left are senior high school graduates Davia Coles and Merri Parent, junior high school graduates Autumn Berlied, Mary Watson and Flaudel Johan Baez and senior high school graduate Milos Matiaska.<br/>Recorder/David Rainville
  • Redemption Christian Academy graduate Milos Matiaska, of the Czech Republic, delivers a speech at the school's graduation Saturday in Northfield.<br/>Recorder/David Rainville
  • Redemption Christian Academy graduate Milos Matiaska, of the Czech Republic, delivers a speech at the school's graduation Saturday in Northfield.<br/>Recorder/David Rainville

NORTHFIELD — Milos Matiaska came a long way to graduate from Redemption Christian Academy.

“In the past, I never listened to anybody and I just did whatever I wanted to do,” said Matiaska, who came to RCA last fall from the Czech Republic.

When he arrived in Northfield last fall, Matiaska didn’t speak English. Through the school’s English immersion program he quickly learned the language, and Saturday he took to the podium and addressed the crowd at the small school’s second Northfield graduation.

“My father died eight years ago and my mother remarried. Due to financial distress, she became addicted to alcohol and nobody wanted to help us.”

His stepfather left her, and Matiaska and his sister were left with their alcoholic mother. When his sister was accepted to an Australian school and left the country, Matiaska felt that he had nobody left to help him through his darkest hours.

He slept at friends’ houses to escape his home life, and began looking into U.S. schools.

“I knew I didn’t have enough money to do this,” he recalled.

Then, he found out about RCA, and was able to secure enough financial aid to move to the land of opportunity and start anew in his senior year.

He had a little trouble adjusting to the rigorous structure of the school and submitting to authority, but it didn’t last.

“Through washing dishes in work study, I learned that nothing is free,” he said. “I learned to put God first, others second, and myself third. This year at RCA was the most influential of my life.

“Thank you for admitting me, despite the fact that I’m not a basketball player, and my prior academic achievements were not that good,” he said.

Matiaska went on to earn an 87 average at RCA, and hopes to attend Holy Name University in Oakland, Calif.

“I’m only starting out on my journey, but I made my biggest step here.”

Matiaska was part of a small graduating class of three.

Merri Parent of Erving, also graduated Saturday, and plans to attend Greenfield Community College in the fall.

Graduate Davia Coles of Troy, N.Y., will study at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, R.I.

Eddie Cowan of RCA’s postgraduate program, wasn’t able to attend commencement, but will continue his studies at Ventura College in California in September.

Junior high graduates

The school also honored three junior high graduates Saturday.

Autumn Berlied of Winchester, N.H., Mary Watson of Sharon Spring, N.Y., and Flaudel Johan Baez of Dedham, will move on to RCA’s senior high school after their summers off.

RCA, founded in Troy, N.Y. in 1979, moved into the former Linden Hill School’s South Mountain Road campus last January. Its students learn in their classes as well as on local farms and in the school’s Goodway Bakery, a major fundraising arm of RCA that teaches them business skills as well as culinary arts.

Through community support and a dedicated volunteer staff, RCA keeps its tuition costs far below those of the area’s other private schools.

Its founder, Elder John Massey Jr., thanked RCA’s biggest donors, Dr. Douglas and Monica Mitchell, who have given the school a wealth of business advice in addition to their donations. To honor them, the school dedicated its renovated Dr. Douglas and Monica Mitchell Center Saturday. RCA also thanked benefactor Donald Hinsdale by naming the school’s dining hall after him. Hinsdale, joked Massey, could often be found enjoying the school’s international cuisine, and he felt the dining hall dedication was the perfect way to honor him.

You can reach David Rainville at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279 On Twitter, follow @RecorderRain

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