Samuel Gerardi sees faith clarified by science

The Enterprise — Marcello Iaia

Samuel Gerardi points out emergency exits inside The Egg in Albany in case his valedictory speech "crashes and burns" during the June 28 graduation ceremony.

BERNE — The Christian retreat Camp Pinnacle in East Berne has been a second home to Samuel Gerardi every summer for the past 10 years.

His father, Chris Gerardi, is its executive director and Samuel Gerardi is a photographer and counselor, a self-described Christian role model for the campers that come for canoeing, paint-ball fields, and gospel.

Gerardi is at the camp constantly, living and eating with the campers, “kind of like Jesus and his disciples,” said Gerardi, who graduated last month as the valedictorian of Berne-Knox-Westerlo and will attend Houghton College.

This summer, the camp is again home for the Gerardi family. Their Berne house was destroyed after a fire burned through its attic in May. The second floor ceiling above Gerardi’s room collapsed.

It was a cold morning. A fire started purposely to heat the family’s water produced embers that traveled onto the roof, possibly through the rusted flue, and into the attic, Gerardi surmised. His father noticed the fire when he went outside and saw the plants against their house and a chimney façade were on fire.

The BKW senior learned about the fire after he finished taking an Advanced Placement test at school that morning.

Fire destroyed the Gerardis’ photo albums, video tapes, and family heirlooms.

“God’s been good through it all,” said Gerardi.

Chris Gerardi oversaw construction of the family’s modular home eight years ago, and he plans to demolish and rebuild.

Houghton College, a Christian college in southwestern New York, offered more money in light of Gerardi’s destroyed home. A collection by teachers at BKW raised $1,225 in May, which he plans to use for a new laptop.

Gerardi wants to major in chemistry at Houghton, and he may study media arts and ministry as well.

“Chemistry was actually a way I felt good about myself, and that I was actually being challenged,” said Gerardi. At BKW, in a class of 53 students, his advanced classes had as few as five students.

Science helps clarify phenomena for Gerardi, like the g-forces on a roller coaster, the role of burning manganese during the fireworks display at Camp Pinnacle, or the acid he used to strip precious metals from computer parts.

“As a Christian, it’s just kind of understanding how things worked not only the ‘why,’” said Gerardi.

He said it gives him a platform from which he can speak to people from different backgrounds

“I can bridge the gap and show that science proves God and vice versa,” said Gerardi.

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