Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Summer Blessings

We have now come to the end of the school year and in so many ways it was a terrific year at London Christian High and we have much to be thankful for. We are thankful to our entire staff team for their tireless work with our students. We are thankful for our wider community supporters who lift us up in prayer and offer us words of encouragement. We are thankful for our parents who partner with us in this journey of Christian learning and living. We are thankful for our board, whose dedication and vision for the future leads and guides our thinking. We are thankful for our students, who bring passion, energy and enthusiasm to school every day. We are thankful for the opportunity that God places before each one of us individually but also collectively to be 'salt and light' in the city of London and the surrounding region. Ultimately, we are thankful to God for His provision, His direction and His Spirit who offers us guidance and grace each new day.

As you head out for a summer break from school, we wish you a very blessed, refreshing and rejuvenating time away. For our graduates and those heading off in other directions, we pray that God will continue to lead and guide your footsteps until we meet again!

I will leave you with God's words to Moses in Numbers 6:24-26 as he was instructing the Israelites on how bless one another in the new nation that He was creating. It is my hope and prayer that your family is able to take these words with you into summer break as a reminder that we have much to be thankful for because we have a God who loves us and has a good plan for each of us. Enjoy the break!

The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Endings and Beginnings

We are nearing the end of another school year! The life of a school is a bit unique in that there is always a definitive start and an end. Other industries and organizations often need to be more intentional about creating a start and an end or times for stopping and reflecting, but for schools there is a natural break during the summer months. For students, they get a chance to show what they have learned at the end of a semester or year and then they get to start fresh and new again after a break. The same is true of staff in a school, there is a start and there is an end to each year with time for reflection and revision built in. As the writer of Ecclesiastes puts it in the third chapter: 'For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.'

Beyond just a yearly start and end in the life of a school, there are also times where there are starting points and ending points for those who serve at our school. At this point we wanted to make everyone in our community aware of some of the people movement going on in our building to both bless those leaving and to welcome those coming. As at all times, we believe that God has a plan for each person that He creates. Whether leaving or just starting, we affirm that God invites each of us into His divine Kingdom plan. For each of the people listed below, we wish them God's blessings as they enter a new season of their lives, a new time for new activities under heaven.


Here are the staff who are leaving us at the end of this school year:

1. Paul Buma - Paul has worked at our school for 41 years primarily as a geography teacher, but also heavily involved in coaching basketball and soccer and so much more. We just hosted a retirement open house for Paul this past Saturday, but if you still wish to say good-bye you will also have a chance at our closing graduation ceremony taking place on June 22 at 8pm at Forest City Community Church.

2. Marg Dijkhuis- Marg has been at our school for 30 years primarily as an art teacher, but again she also has been involved in many different activities and classes over time. Marg is retiring this year also and we wish her God's blessings in this next stage of her life. Again, we have already spent some time honouring Marg for her work here, but if you wish to pass on your encouragement to her you will also be able to connect with her at graduation on June 22, which is true of the other three folks below also.

3. Matthew Atkins - Matthew has been at our school for six years now mostly as our drama and music teacher, although he has been involved in many other things also. Matthew has directed the choir, been the director for our school play and has led various other music groups over time. We wish Matthew all the best as he takes a leave from our school to pursue a Master's degree in music.

4. Sharon Lam - Sharon has been at London Christian High for about four years now as an ESL teacher, international student coordinator, educational assistant and coach among other things. Sharon will also be leaving to pursue a Master's degree at the University of Toronto. We wish her all the best in her future work and studies.

5. Clarence Wassink - Clarence has been a long-time staff member at London Christian High, having just completed his 36th year. Clarence has been involved in many different things at the school over time including teaching history, coaching, carrying out various administrative tasks, being involved in the school play, building campaigns and so much more. Clarence will be leaving to pursue other interests in the fall and we wish him God's deepest blessings as he does this. There will be a good-bye open house for Clarence that will take place on Saturday June 23 at lunchtime if you would like to wish Clarence well as he transitions into this new phase of his life.


Here are the staff who are joining us to start in September for the 2018-2019 school year:

1. Christy Groot-Nibbelink - Christy will be taking over some of Matthew's roles in our music department. She will be teaching music, leading the choir and the worship team among other things. Christy comes to us having just completed a Master's in music at the University of Florida. We are very excited to have her join our team!

2. Ashley Berkelmans - Ashley will be leading the drama program at the school next year also in place of Matthew. She will be teaching drama and directing the school play, which is a monumental undertaking each year. Ashley comes to us from some previous work at Mt. Salem Christian High School near Aylmer and the Thames Valley District School Board. Again, we are pleased to be welcoming Ashley to our team for next year in these highly visible roles.

3. Phil Hosmar - Phil is the husband of Carla Hosmar, who is our Learning Commons lead currently. Phil comes to us from London Christian Elementary School and will be teaching a variety of classes as well as teaming up with Mark Sumner doing technology support and leadership in the school. Welcome aboard Phil!

4. Mikaelee MacDouell - Mikaelee is not really a new name to our school community as she has worked with us in a part-time capacity for two years now. However, next year she will be taking on a full-time role at the school teaching a variety of different arts and humanities classes. We are looking forward to having Mikaelee around again next year!

5. Chris Chadwick - Chris is not technically a new hire for our school as he has already started. Having said this, he will be starting full-time in the fall in a dual role leading our international student home stay program as well as filling our brand new foods position at the school. Yes, this means that we are planning to have a regular lunch food service offering next year for the first time and we are excited about the possibilities. Chris comes to us from his work at Youth For Christ where he worked extensively with youth in a variety of contexts including international work and where he pioneered the Youth For Christ Cafe. Blessings on your work moving forward Chris!






Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The John Rozema Teaching Excellence Award

Two years ago Cardus (https://www.cardus.ca/), a Christian think-tank based in Hamilton, Ontario, established the John Rozema Teaching Excellence Award. This award was designed to highlight the really terrific work going on in Christian schools across our province based on three criteria: Purpose, Rigour and Service. This year we are really excited to announce that for the first time ever London Christian High has not one but two finalist nominees for this award in the category of Excellence in Secondary Teaching. Exciting stuff!

Our two teacher nominees are Matt Rock and Corrina Cameron. Matt is being recognized for his work with his senior shop class who recently designed and delivered a 'feature wall' for the board room at Forest City Fire Protection. Corrina is being recognized for her work with her learning strategies class who spent a significant amount of time last semester learning about and doing something about poverty and homelessness in our local community. We will learn about the winner of the award for this category at a gala dinner at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington on June 13, exciting stuff!

For more information on the John Rozema Awards, please check out this link:
https://www.cardus.ca/research/education/excellence-in-education/

Congrats to Matt and Corrina!






Wednesday, May 9, 2018

How (Not) To Be Secular

I am reading an interesting book right now by James K.A. Smith, who is a professor at Calvin College, which is a Christian liberal arts college in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Smith's book, which is also the title of this blog post is: How (Not) To Be Secular. The book is a bit philosophical, but that is who Smith is, a philosophy professor. He is a terrific thought leader in Christianity these days and he makes some profound points about the changing nature of our culture, how our culture shapes us and how we shape our culture. How (Not) To Be Secular is a commentary on how we got from a world where it was unthinkable to not consider yourself 'religious' around the year 1500 (or so), to a world today where it is generally hard to believe that anyone does believe in God anymore.

Smith discusses this at some length, but the one point that I wanted to pick out of this with implications for Christian schools is what the author calls the phenomenon of 'cross-pressure'. What he means by this is that on the one hand, people who today consider themselves non-religious or something close to that often also feel or express that there is a deep longing in their life for something bigger, something eternal. On the flip side of that, people who would consider themselves religious today are increasingly willing to share and wrestle with questions to their faith in an open and honest way. There is a cross pressure felt by both of these people groups in their 'positions' that is very human on both sides.

In Christian schools we increasingly meet students and families who are somewhere in the messy middle of expressing a deep longing for something bigger and/or wrestling with their faith on some level. We see this as a healthy process, which creates good discussion points to have in a Christian setting. With our school facing and embracing more diversity than ever, we have fantastic new opportunities to reach new people and social networks to influence them for the glory of God. This 'cross-pressured' culture that we live in is at once more complex and distressing than ever but it also presents more opportunities and connection points than ever. This is what Smith says we increasingly face as Christian schools, churches and people of God and it is important to see both the challenges as well as the opportunities.

As always and in all times, we can take comfort in the fact that Christ is leading us and that He has a good plan for our school and for our world more broadly if we truly seek to follow him. If you have time and interest, I would recommend any of Smith's books.

Blessings to you and your family as we head towards the end of the school year!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Notes From Our Substance Use Meeting...

On Thursday April 12 we invited anyone interested to attend a meeting at the school about substance use and abuse here at London Christian High. Hopefully you seen some of our invitations and literature about this topic over the last couple of months. Thanks to those of you who were able to make it to the meeting. For those of you not able to make it, here are a few highlights from our time together:

1. Firstly, I think it is important to note that this issue, substance use and abuse in its various forms (drugs, alcohol, vaping, tobacco, etc.) is an issue here at London Christian High, much like at most high schools everywhere. This doesn't make it right, but anecdotally this is an issue in many places. As Christians, we are called to consider this difficult topic from a Biblical perspective. It was also affirmed in the room that although this is an issue in many places, it is probably a bigger issue at London Christian High than at other Christian high schools around the province, based on (again) anecdotal stories and experiences. Having said this, it is also important to note that the types of issues that face us at our school are relatively small compared to what most publicly funded schools need to deal with on a day to day basis. Hopefully this gives some sense for the scope of the issue that we are trying to tackle.

2. Secondly, it was mentioned a few times at the meeting that the first lens through which we should be looking at this topic is from within our relationship to Jesus Christ. Although many people have many different opinions and thoughts on how to deal with substance use with their children (or themselves for that matter) we do have a common basis as Christians, which is the example and life of Christ. If Christ is our model, how would he have us deal with drugs and alcohol?

3. On more than a few occasions during the meeting it was said and affirmed that our school (teachers, staff, administration, board, students) should actively seek to hold one another accountable to the standards that we have set in place, as found in our Student Handbook (available on our website). Drugs and alcohol do not have a place at London Christian High and although difficult decisions at times have been and continue to be made about students who are involved in them, the community as a whole supports and encourages accountability and help for those who struggle with this issue.

4. Several folks also noted that they were thankful for the meeting and for the opportunity to connect with other parents and supporters who are at times lost in how to talk about substance use with their children. There were stories shared throughout the evening that encouraged parents, opened eyes and developed great opportunities for prayer and mutual encouragement. It is our hope as a school that as a result of the meeting that parents are more willing to call other parents to help one another navigate things like parties and other high school gatherings either associated with the school or not.

5. In terms of next steps, we wanted to share our discussion with the rest of the community, which is the point and purpose of this blog entry. Beyond this, several people noted that more education on this topic (as well as a host of other topics like social media use, pornography, mental health, discerning popular culture, bullying etc.) would be welcome for both parents and students alike. In the fall we are already planning to have Brett Ullman come in (https://www.brettullman.com/) sometime early in the semester to unpack one of these topics for us. Sometimes I get suggestions for other speakers on various topics and we would be welcome to those as well.

6. Finally, as mentioned at the meeting in the opening devotions and the closing prayer by members of our board, we would welcome ongoing prayer support from you, our wider community. Of special interest, there is a parent prayer group that meets the first Monday of every month at the school to pray about different issues like this one. If you are interested to show up to be a part of this group or want to learn more, please contact the school and we would be happy to direct you to the right person. As Christians living in a broken world, we are often faced with difficult circumstances. However, we are told that 'where two or three gather together in My name, there I am with them' (Matthew 18:20). There is power in collectively shining a light in the dark areas of our lives and together we can face these issues with Christ as our guide.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Two Dates to Note

From time to time I like to highlight a few things coming up here at the school. Life is busy and it is often hard to keep up with all of the opportunities available to us. To this end, please note these two dates upcoming here at London Christian High. You may be interested to attend one or both if you have not committed already:

April 12 - Substance Use and Abuse Discussion @ 7:45pm

We are inviting all parents, guardians, students and/or wider supporting members to a discussion on substance use and abuse at the school. The purpose of this time together is to identify the issues that we face as a Christian community and to try to find ways to support one another in what is often a very difficult topic. This discussion will be happening directly following our Parent-Teacher Interview evening at the school, so perhaps you could plan to attend both in one trip. The format for the evening will largely be in-house and discussion-based in nature. We hope to unpack questions like: What has been your experience as a parent/student with substance abuse at our school? How could the school better support you (parent/student) on this topic? How could you better support one another (parent-parent, student-student, student-parent) on this topic? What next steps should we take to work with one another?

It is our hope and prayer that it will be a positive time together!


April 20 - Dinner and a Show

Last year was our first year experimenting with the Dinner and a Show fundraiser evening and it turned out to be a great success so we are bringing back the same model again for this year. If you are looking for a great date night out with your spouse or a fun night out with some friends or just some really great food plus some great theatre, next week Friday evening is for you. Tickets are still available but at $40 for both the dinner and the show they will sell out quickly. This year's play is entitled, One Foot In Heaven and it is a comedy about turn of the century church politics. How could you not like that?

We hope to see you there!


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

London Christian High Diploma Update


Thanks to those of you who took some time to provide feedback to us about the current state of the London Christian High Diploma a few weeks back. You may recall that we asked you, our community, some basic questions about the importance of the diploma and what, if anything, you would change about the requirements for it. Below is a summary of what we have been talking about here as a school as well as some next steps moving into the future.

The feedback that we received from the community survey, coupled with the discussions that we have had as a staff team and as a board, have led us to believe that the current requirements have good thought behind them but are a bit too restrictive for course selections options, particularly for our senior students.

In terms of specific courses, there was a strong desire to continue with our current Biblical studies course as well as our World Religions course, both of which are designed to form a Biblical worldview and ask big faith questions about life. Beyond these two courses there was a sentiment that Christian perspective shows up in all courses and as such there were many questions about why specific courses were required for the London Christian High Diploma and not others. So, rather than thinking about which courses offer more or less Christian perspective, we have decided to drop the requirement to choose certain senior courses towards the London Christian High Diploma. Overall, we believe this change will be better reflective of the diverse talents and gifts among our student body as they work towards the London Christian High Diploma.

In other words, in addition to the Ontario Secondary School Diploma requirements, students working towards the London Christian High Diploma will complete only the following three requirements, all of which were in place beforehand:

1.       Grade 10 Bible
2.       Grade 11 World Religions
3.       40 Hours of Community Service (10 hours min. in the broader community, 20 hours max. in   local community, 20 hours max. on a mission trip)

We are planning to implement this transition effective September 1, 2018. We are hopeful that this transition serves students better as we collectively seek to honour them for who God has created them to be while simultaneously pointing them towards a bigger purpose in life rooted in Christ. Thank you again for your feedback and your ongoing support of London Christian High. We are happy to chat further if you have questions or other ideas.