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:

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.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Habits of a London Christian High Graduate

You might recall that over the past 18-24 months we have been busy putting together our 'Playbook' here at London Christian High.The Playbook is essentially a concise document that attempts to explain clearly and quickly what we are trying to do here at the school, why we are trying these things, and how we intend to accomplish them. This is still a living document as we are still and always collecting and considering feedback on it to guide us in this journey.

The first two sections of the Playbook set the tone and scene for the rest of the document. The first question is: Why do we exist? Simply put, we have written that London Christian High exists to move people towards purpose in Christ.

The second section asks: How do we behave? I'd like to focus in on these behaviours for a moment within the context of considering who we would like our graduates to be and what they'll be able to do when they leave London Christian High. These are all 'working thoughts' and we welcome your feedback on them:

1. Relational - We hope that our students (and staff, board, wider supporters) have a deeper and deeper appreciation that because people matter to God, they matter to us. To the best of our ability, we want our graduates to honour one another in relationships because everyone is a child of God.

2. Collaborate - We recognize that increasingly the world is a complex place and there is a greater and greater need to be able to work with other people to solve difficult problems. The Bible refers to this as the 'Body of Christ' (1 Corinthians 12) where everyone brings something to the table for the greater good in the Kingdom of God.

3. Communicate - We believe it is important for our grads to talk to people about problems that they have, rather than about people. We refer to this as the Matthew 18 principle. It is often difficult, but speaking the truth in love is a bedrock principle for growing as a Christian.

4. Iterate - We understand that to get something right usually requires lots of effort, often many drafts, lots and lots of knowledge and wisdom and multiple revisions. Having a 'growth mindset' in education as well as just in life in general is so important to growing, learning, experiencing grace and helping one another.

5. Community - We want our graduates to understand that the world is much bigger than them. They are tremendously unique individuals, but they are also a bigger part of God's family on earth which requires a wide understanding of 'neighbour'. Developing empathy for one another is key in this process.

What do you think? Are we missing something in this list as applied to graduates? What would you add or take away? We would be happy to hear your thoughts.

Monday, February 5, 2018

High Challenge, High Support

This past week we had exams at London Christian High. Exam week and the days leading up to exams are always full of stress, last minute preparations and high hopes for results that are a good reflection of the work done throughout the semester. As I watched the activities of the week unfold, it reminded me about how much work our Learning Commons team does with our students to make sure they are prepped and ready for exams, but also throughout the semester for things like tests, keeping up with assignments, general organization and a whole range of other learning support. On this note, if you have questions about your child's progress at school, want to learn more about what potential supports are available to them and/or just have questions about what the Learning Commons does, please feel free to connect with Carla Hosmar, our Learning Commons lead: chosmar@ldcss.ca.

At one point in time it was likely seen as a weakness to want extra help or support in school. However, in today's world there is a growing awareness that learning differences are not bad, rather they are quite normal and really beautiful in a lot of ways. In fact, in the future it would not be surprising to see all students on some version of an Individual Education Plan (IEP). For me, this is interesting to note because I believe it is a deeply Biblical idea taken right out of Psalm 139 where we read that we are 'fearfully and wonderfully made'. When we talk about honouring PEOPLE for who God created them to be, this concept is right at the center.

In closing, we like to think of London Christian High as a high challenge and high support environment. Regardless of which type of student you are, or which gifts you have been given or what previous experiences you may have had, our staff team really wants to challenge our students but also provide equal levels of support for meeting those challenges. This will look different for each student, but the point is that we care deeply for the growth and development of our students and we very much value partnering with you, our supporting families in this critical life stage.

As we head into the second semester, again, if you have questions or want to learn more about how your child could possibly be better supported or encouraged moving forward, please let us know. We would love to talk further!