As Memorial Day approaches, we remember all those who died while serving our great county and those who currently serve, especially Aucilla Christian Academy alumnus Kent Jones, who graduated from ACA in 2011 and North Florida Community College in 2013 and has made us all proud by giving God his best in all areas of his life.
“In 2013, I joined the Air Force as Airman First Class and went to basic training in Texas,” said Jones, who graduated as an Expert Marksman with honors. He then began technical training at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, where he was awarded Student of the Month. Jones is currently stationed at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia where he continues to receive accolades including: Airman of the Quarter, Performer of the Month (multiple times), and Airman of the Year 2015, as top four Airman in the Wing. He also served as his unit’s booster club vice president.
Last month, Jones was promoted to Senior Airman, where he serves while working towards his accounting degree at American Military University. He is married to Kayla (Green) Jones of Tallahassee and is the son of Jeana Jackson and the late Marshall Jones of Perry.
“I attended ACA fifth through twelfth grades,” said Jones. “Mr. Sean Carson made a profound impact on me. I was his teacher's aide my junior or senior years, and we had many discussions on a variety of topics that spurred an interest in politics and history. His American and World History classes were my favorite that he taught. Mrs. Mary Hartsfield was another of my favorites. We worked together when I was in Student Council because she was the sponsor, and I remember spending many lunches in her class talking to her about books or anything really.”
Those two long-time teachers at ACA had a huge impact on Jones’ life, but there was another current ACA teacher, who never taught him in a classroom, that impacted his life as well.
“The teacher though that made the biggest impact on my life is Ms. Debbie Stephens,” said Jones. “I did not have her as a teacher or advisor while at ACA, but both her husband and my dad got cancer and died within a year of each other. My first year at ACA was right after my dad passed away, and I remember her reaching out to me and telling me that if I needed anything to just let her know. Fast forward a few years, and I played basketball/baseball with her son John Stephens [he was best man in Jones’ wedding]. My senior year of high school my mom got diagnosed with Leukemia. One of the first people to reach out to me was Ms. Debbie, again offering to cook meals or help in any way she could. At this point we had only talked a handful of times. Fast forward to day one at NFCC, and I had two back to back classes with John. We started hanging out for school projects, then baseball and movies. Before I knew it, I was at his house 2-3 nights a week – this happening while I lived in Perry, and they lived in Monticello.”
Jones’ life was transformed by his experiences at ACA. “Ms. Debbie provided the guardian role that I needed at that point in my life,” said Jones. “She and John even traveled all the way from Florida to Texas to see me graduate from Basic Training in Texas. What a family!”
At ACA, Jones was involved in Living Waters, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Student Council (president and vice president), Brain Bowl, baseball, cross country, football, and basketball.
“The Bible classes taught by Ms. Jamie Newberry and Coach Adams provided so much knowledge that I still lean on today in my daily walk with Christ,” said Jones. “I can be talking to someone about Jesus or a story from the Bible and pull information that I learned from both teachers and surprise myself even at times.”
When we remember those like Jones and other ACA alumni, who serve in our military and have given their lives for our freedoms this Memorial Day, it reminds us of Jesus and the sacrifices he too made. Today, it’s our honor to recognize ACA alumnus, USAF Senior Airman Kent Jones.