Increasing diversity has helped improve the education at a southeast Kentucky boarding school. In 1900, Oneida Baptist Institute opened its doors in Clay County. Today, Institute President Bud Underwood says about a quarter of their student population comes from countries outside the United States. Underwood says those international students motivate American-born students to work harder.
“When you’re a roommate with an international student…and you see again the dedication they have to doing their homework..it has obviously impressed enough of our American kids that we’ve been able the last several years to have on average from one quarter to the next about 75 of our students earn honor roll status,” said Underwood.
Underwood says the Oneida Institute changed its admission standards about a decade ago…improving its appeal to international students.
Its teenage students keep tuition costs down by helping with the school’s maintenance. Oneida President Bud Underwood says most students accept the rules without much resistance.
“You tell the average 17 year old you’re gonna have to go to bed at ten o clock.. they wonder what planet we’re from…now they might give their parents some considerable resistance on that..but when they come to Oneida and everybody’s going to bed at ten o clock. ..then there’s not much purpose in arguing about that,” added Underwood.
Underwood says about a quarter of the student body is Christian. While chapel is part of the daily schedule, the school is open to youth of all religious faiths.
“We have never in the 50 years I’ve been with the school as a student and as a staff person..I have never ever been aware where we tried to force a child to make a decision about being whatever they are to becoming a Christian,” said Underwood.
Underwood has served as president of Oneida Baptist Institute for 18 years.