By Emily Holland
September 30th brought OBA a new inductee to its Wall of Christian Commitment, Clellie Richards. At the commitment ceremony, former OBA Headmaster Paul MacDonald remarked of Mr. Richards, “No one deserves to be on this wall more.”
Mr. Richards began his 26-year tenure with OBA in April of 1995. First as the groundskeeper and maintenance, then as junior high science and Bible teacher. Mr. Richards reflects, “the next 26 years were exciting and blessed years, dependent upon the commitment of my wife Ginger and the partnership of my three children.” Mr. Richards cherishes the role OBA played in shaping all three of his children’s relationship with the Lord which continues to flourish into their adulthood.
Mr. Richards grew up in a Christian home developing a strong work ethic on the family farm in the Panhandle. Success in basketball and VoAg led to a scholarship at NEO A&M and OSU where met his wife Ginger. With a degree in animal science and ag education, Mr. Richards taught for 12 years in Wakita as Ag Science and FFA instructor. While in Wakita, the Richards children were born: Caleb, Kala, and Clancy. While attending Bethel Hawley Baptist Church, Mr. Richards became convinced of the value of Christian education and moved his family to Enid to attend Emmanuel Christian School and OBA.
Special OBA memories for Mr. Richards involve dedication to facility projects that served students. Projects include the baseball field construction, the 1999-2002 baseball players required 10 hours of building and maintaining the field to be on the team, oldest son Caleb’s class of 2002 logged over 100 hours to complete it before their graduation. He and his son Clancy worked one summer to position lockers and build the north hall coat and backpack hangers. In OBA’s inaugural football season Mr. Richards constructed the first set of football bleachers with school dad, Rick Roberts, in less than two weeks.
Mr. Richards began teaching high school life sciences in 2002 when the Advanced Learning wing was added. Mr. Richards took on the challenge of teaching AP Biology where 14 years of students were prepared to thrive in biological science degrees and careers. Although his students achieved impressive AP and ACT scores, he says his “biggest blessing of how God used his students’ experiences and relationships to help him mature in his own personal relationship with the Lord.” A Senior, and former student of Mr. Richards, Clara Caldwell, remembers with admiration, “We saw his dedication to the school, his love he had for his children and OBA, and how he gave everything his all.”
Mr. Richards learned to measure student success by how well they learned to serve the Lord, regardless of academic and athletic abilities. The professional teaching legacy that Mr. Richards leaves to future generations of teachers and students is not his student’s impressive academic scores or state championships but his ability to inspire his student to know, love, and serve Jesus Christ through his science classrooms, fields, and court. In his commitment ceremony speech, Mr. Richards closed by saying, “I don’t want you to remember me, I want you to remember what God has done.” Mr. Richards, OBA thanks you for your many years of commitment and dedication to the Lord and Christian education!