Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What is Christian Education?

This is a fundamental question for us in Christian schools and from a first glance, it seems like the answer should be rather simple. However, when you start to drill down and really explore the nuances of this question, it can turn into a really good topic for dinner time conversation! Try it out around the table at your house. Ask: What is Christian Education and see what you get from your children!

In answering this question, I have found that often there are ideas about the Bible being central in class, learning led by committed Christian teachers, integrating faith with life and then things like building Christian character, values and morals. I think all of these things are important and definitely part of the discussion.

However, to push the conversation a little further, I wonder if it is useful in this context to think about the difference between Christians educating and Christian education. In other words, do we in Christian schools see our task as sprinkling on some 'Christianity' to mostly 'neutral' curriculum or is there more going on here? At London Christian High, we certainly believe that there is a huge difference between Christians who happen to be educating and a more holistic understanding of education from a uniquely Christian perspective.

Certainly things like Bible classes, devotions, prayer and musical worship are a part of our holistic approach. But, in a sense, we believe every class is a Bible class (or an extension of Bible class) and a form of worship back to God! We believe that God is speaking to us in all aspects of His creation, inviting us into His redemptive story and into a personal relationship with Him. There is no such thing as a 'neutral' curriculum and Christian education goes far beyond a sprinkling of Christian thought at the end of the course. The reason Christian schools exist is because we believe and continue to affirm that our whole world (every square inch) belongs to God and it deserves to be understood and explored in this way.

So what does this look like in real life?

Just recently, our whole school took some time to pause and reflect during our annual Remembrance Day assembly. This is nothing unusual as you would find this in many schools around our nation. During this assembly, our grade ten history class presented some videos that they had created to honour local people who died in service to their country. The stories that our students told about these local heroes from WWI and WWII were really moving when you consider they came from places like Woodstock, Sarnia and St. Thomas and were not a lot older than our Gr. 12 students. The stories were powerful, but what really set them apart from a more holistically Christian perspective is that we believe as Christians we are called to try to 'Redeem the Past'. As imperfect and sinful human beings, there are many wrongs from the past that require apologies and healing. As such, we believe that telling the stories of these local heroes goes some way towards honouring their efforts and making sure their stories are not lost in the sands of time. In other words, in our own small way at London Christian High, we are trying to promote peace on earth as a part of God's ongoing, overarching redemptive story. Powerful stuff when understood in this context. Check our the video below for more on this.

I could list many more examples of how we are trying to connect our learning to redemptive opportunities all around us. To this end, I would encourage you to check out the upcoming edition of the ConnectEd, which will tell some more of these stories. In the end, through stories like these, it is my hope and prayer that we will all continue to learn about the differences between Christians Educating and Christian Education.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Some Upcoming Dates To Note...

We are nearing the midway point of the semester and school is now in full swing. Life can quickly become busy in the regular flow of the school year, so I wanted to take a minute and highlight two dates that are coming up that you may want to put on your calendar before it fills up too much!

Thursday Nov. 23 - Membership Meeting

Everyone is invited to our annual Fall Membership Meeting. Although only members can vote on things like the budget or new board members, anyone is welcome to come to learn more about what is happening at the school. The past three or four Membership Meetings have been focused on the future of the school. We have used these meetings to open up a dialogue between staff, board and the wider community about topics like: the future of learning, the place of Christian education in our secular society, key skills & knowledge that the work world requires and even the beginning of a discussion on whether God is calling us to stay in our current location or potentially consider different locations around London. These are exciting times at the school and we would welcome your input! A more formal agenda including discussion topics at the upcoming meeting with be sent out on or before Nov. 14. We hope to see you there!

Tuesday Dec. 19 - Christmas Concert & Celebration of Learning

Our annual Christmas Concert is always a special event at the school and as always, everyone is invited to come and hear our choir and other musical groups perform various Christmas carols at this year's concert. However, this year in addition to the concert we will have lots of different student work on display from the first semester to enjoy before and after the main event. We are really excited to share with you, our wider community, a taste of the really great learning going on in the building and we would love to see you there! Again, everyone is welcome and the cost is free.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Grade Eight Day - Nov. 1

It might seem like a ways away, but November is just around the corner and with the changing of the calendar we will again be hosting our annual Grade Eight Day on Nov. 1 between 10am and 2pm. This is a day where we invite Grade Eight students from all of our supporting area elementary schools to come to London Christian High to experience a 'mini' high school day. It is usually a really fun day with about 160+ grade eight students in the building.

A few things that you might NOT know about this day include the fact that recently we have started also inviting students from other grades to join us also, particularly in cases where elementary schools have 7/8 split classes. We have also started inviting parents to attend along with their students to see the school via their own specialized program for the day. The past two years we have had about 25-30 parents also join us for the day. Both parents and students get a free lunch and again, generally, it is a really good day.

Overall, we have tried to make Grade Eight Day more accessible to anyone who might be interested in learning about the school. Perhaps you know of a family who could really benefit from having their children in a Christian high school. Please encourage them to attend! Even if they just show up on the morning of the event without an RSVP, we would still love to have them! There are so many exciting things happening at the school and we would love an opportunity to tell our story to anyone interested in learning some more.

Finally, if someone you know cannot make it to Grade Eight Day on Nov. 1, we would love to see them at our annual Dessert Evening on Nov. 16 at 7pm. This is an open house designed for anyone, of any age in a different format from Grade Eight Day.

In summary, please encourage someone you know who might be interested to come on out and check us out in the next month or so. Naturally, these are not the only two times throughout the year to see the school (you could come any day), but they are two really good opportunities to see us in an accessible way.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Counseling @ London Christian High

This week I wanted to formally let everyone in our community know about a new counseling relationship that we have in place this year with Shalem Mental Health Network. Shalem is a Christian organization that specializes in different forms of counseling to support people dealing with things like anxiety, depression, grief, broken relationships, addictions and trauma. Shalem has many different agreements and relationships in place across a spectrum of organizations, churches and schools. For more information, follow this link to learn more about Shalem: https://shalemnetwork.org/

To give you a brief overview on what this new relationship means for our school, essentially if a student requires a professionally qualified Christian counselor for any reason, that student could meet with a Shalem approved counselor up to four times free of charge. To begin this process, all you would need to do is call this number: 1-866-347-0041 or text this number: 289-335-3543 or email this address: office@shalemnetwork.org.

All communication is confidential and a Shalem associate will set your student up with a counselor in your area to connect with. There are usually multiple options for counselors in any particular region and Shalem works hard to make sure there is a fit for everyone.

In light of the growing awareness of Mental Health related issues in our world, we believe this relationship with Shalem will serve to support our students even further than they are already supported here at school by their teachers and guidance counselors.  If you have any questions or want to learn more, please feel free to connect with us here. It is our hope and prayer that our community will be enriched by this service.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Where Did Our Grads Go?

Welcome to the third week of school!

Hopefully by this point your son or daughter is finding their way around the school and getting into a good learning routine. Particularly if you are new to our community, we would again like to say that we are happy you have joined us and if you have any questions about the operation of the school, please don't hesitate to ask us. You can call, email or just drop on by, we'd be happy to chat.

Although we are really busy getting this year up off the ground, it is interesting to note that we have also just sent all of our graduates from last year 'out into the world' as they have also started new things these past few weeks. Whether they started in college or university or whether they are now off traveling, working or doing some sort of missions work, life certainly changes quite a bit when you leave high school.

I thought it would be interesting to note a few things about where our graduates went from this past year. We often get questions about these sorts of things and so I took a snapshot of where everyone went and I came up with the following statistics and highlights. What I find interesting to note is that we again have a diverse list of graduate destinations because we are intentionally open in terms of how we try to work with our families on the front end of the admissions process. In other words, to the best of our ability, we work with all students from all families, not just a certain subset of students who pass entrance tests or meet some other entrance criteria. From a Biblical perspective, we believe that God creates people uniquely and we want to try to honour that right from the start.

- We had 62 graduates last year and 60% of them went to some sort of University, whether in Ontario, Canada or overseas
- 25% of our graduates went to some kind of college, mostly in Ontario
- The other 15% of our grads went into a wide range of different opportunities including work, apprenticeships, missions work, 5th year in high school and other options
- We get questions every year about whether most or all of our graduates go to Christian Universities or Bible schools. Although this is obviously not the case, we did still have some of our students attend Redeemer University, Calvin College and Canadian Mennonite University.
- We had acceptances to far-off places like the University of Manchester in the UK and The University of Australia
- The list of programs that our students were accepted in to was a really diverse list including things like: criminology, policing, engineering, pre-medicine, publishing, agriculture and kinesiology.
- Some of our graduates were awarded acceptances to some really prestigious programs and institutions like the Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto and the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
- One of our graduates was also awarded the Schulich Scholarship in the amount of $100,000 to MacMaster University! This was a first of its kind award for our school and definitely something worth celebrating.

If you have had a chance to go through the last ConnectED, you'll see a complete listing of all of our graduates and their plans for this year. Regardless of where they landed, we would like to wish them God's blessings as they start out in this new phase of their lives. We are very proud of each one of them and it is our prayer that their diverse talents, gifts and abilities will be used to build the Kingdom of God wherever they go!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to another school year at London Christian High!

We are really excited to get started!

The start of a new school year is exciting for everyone, teachers, students, staff and administrators alike. It is an opportunity to start fresh and look ahead with anticipation to all of the great things that God has in store for us in the coming year. With his guidance and direction, we are confident this will be yet another great year at London Christian High!

If you are a new family to our school community we would like to welcome you specifically to the start of this year. Whether your son or daughter is starting their first day of grade nine, or whether they have transferred from another school or perhaps even another continent, we are very pleased that you have decided to join us this year. We are praying for a really smooth transition into our school. If, for any reason, you have a question about something as you get started, please don't hesitate to call or email or drop by. We are happy to help at any time with anything.

Although the first day of school isn't until Tuesday, the 5th of September, a large portion of our school community got together last week Thursday night already at the Back to School BBQ. Over 300 people attended and we had a great night together eating roast beef and ice cream, praising God and committing the year to Him. Thanks to everyone who was able to make it to the evening. If you were not able to make it, don't fear, your child will be able to get 'oriented' when they show up for school. And again, if you or son or daughter has questions following their first day, don't hesitate to ask!

Finally, this year we will be focusing our school year theme on the word: Empathy. We want to develop a deeper sense for how we can love one another, understand one another and 'walk a mile in another person's shoes'. We will be unpacking this idea further throughout the year, but a good biblical verse that sets the scene for this can be found in Colossians 3: 12-14:

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 

Again, we welcome you back to another year and we look forward to seeing you soon!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The End, Graduation, Summer...etc.

The end of the school year is always filled with both excitement and angst for students and staff alike. With exams, final projects, last minute graduation preparations, marking and summer planning, it can be overwhelming for many people. We would ask that you join us in prayer as our collective school community tries to finish off the year on a good note. There are many details to finalize but also many things to be thankful for as well in the process.

Please pray that our students would finish well and that their exams would be a really good reflection of their work over this past semester. Pray for our graduates who will be starting a new chapter in their lives next year. We would also appreciate your prayers for our staff who have again done a tremendous job this year with our student body, shaping and moulding the minds and hearts of our future Christian leaders.

Finally, we would invite you, our community, to join with us in celebrating the end of the year and specifically our graduates next week Wednesday, June 28 at 8pm at North Park Community Church. It should be a fantastic time of sharing, celebrating, looking back and looking forward together. We hope to see you there!

Looking ahead, please put August 31 on your calendar as the official start of the 2017-2018 school year. August 31 is the Thursday before the Labour Day weekend and it is our annual Back to School BBQ, which everyone is invited to attend. Again, we hope to see you there! Until then, on behalf of the staff, we wish you a terrific summer together with your family! Blessings!