Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Christmas Concert & Celebration of Learning

Although it might seem like a long time ago now (in a past year actually), on December 19, 2017 we held our annual Christmas concert in celebration of the Christmas season at London Christian High. The concert itself was a great evening with lots of terrific songs from our choir as well as other various musical acts. To get into the Christmas spirit, there is hardly a better event to attend in my estimation.

In addition to the concert, this year we also invited our entire community (parents, grandparents, friends, siblings, relatives etc.) to come a little bit early to take in our end of semester Celebration of Learning event. If you have attended previous Celebrations of Learning, you will know what I am referring to here. If you have not attended one of these events before you should mark June 7, 2018 on your calendar to plan to come out to our second semester Celebration of Learning and Spring Concert.

The great diversity and quality of student work on display around the building was inspiring and the buzz was palpable. Everything from art class 'busts' to food class taste tests to world religions projects to hoverboards and more was on display. The best part was students who stuck around to talk to people about what they had been working on throughout the semester. In many cases the student passion for their work was really neat to see.

It was a great event and we look forward to seeing what the second semester holds in store!

On behalf of the staff at London Christian High, we would like to wish you a blessed New Year with you and your family. We look forward to seeing how your son or daughter grows and develops in this new year filled with new opportunities.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Notes From The Annual Fall Community Meeting - Nov. 23, 2017

A few weeks ago we invited our entire community to our annual Fall Community Meeting at the school. These events used to be known as Membership meetings and there are still a few parts that pertain only to members, but for the most part these meetings are open to anyone who supports the school. For your information, the Spring Community Meeting is scheduled for May 24, 2018 and you are welcome to be there!

Here is a brief synopsis of what happened at the meeting:

The big question that we dealt with throughout the evening was: Should we stay or should we go? To be a bit more descriptive we posed the question to our community, should we stay at our present location or should we potentially look at alternative locations around the city of London as the future site for our school?

The reason we are asking this question comes down to two big ideas:

1. Stewardship - Our current building has many parts that are approximately 47 years old and they are starting to show their age. Within the next 3-5 years, we will likely need to replace and/or update many 'big ticket' items in the building including things like the boiler, most of our rooftop HVAC units, many of our windows and some of our bathrooms to name a few major upcoming capital expenditures. Before we go ahead and spend significant money on our current building, we thought it would be wise to ascertain whether it makes sense to look at all options before committing definitively to that path particularly given the second point…

2. 21st Century Learning - Education has changed dramatically in the last ten years or so. With a much greater emphasis on community connections, collaboration in teams of people and the need to be flexible with spaces, our current building again quickly shows its age. There is lots more that could be said here, but the impact of space on program cannot be overstated enough and it has wide-reaching effects on everything from teacher planning to technology integration to enrollment to the quality of theatre productions and more.

So, to get the conversation started, we asked these five questions:

1. Very broadly, what are the key questions that we should be considering as a school to make a decision of this magnitude?
2. Who are some people who you can think of who would be helpful to us in making this decision?
3. In order to support one direction or the other, what would you (a key stakeholder) need to know?
4. What is really good about our present location?
5. What would be good about moving to a different location?

It was a great conversation and we, as a leadership team and board are now planning to take some time to sift through the responses that we got. In the meanwhile, we would love to hear from you! If you have any thoughts on any of these questions and/or you are willing to help us out as we delve into these questions, please connect with us at principal@ldcss.ca. We would welcome your feedback!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Our Playbook

Over the past two years, our board and staff have been working away on a short and clear document that is designed to easily communicate who we are as a school to anyone who might want to know. We call this a 'Playbook' and it is based on the work of Patrick Lencioni who wrote a book called The Advantage. If you are interested in learning more about this process or the thinking behind the Playbook, I would encourage you to read Lencioni's book.

Essentially the point is to create a document that answers six really fundamental questions about any organization. We have attached a draft version of our Playbook to this LinkEd for you, our wider community, to invite your feedback. Please note that this is a draft document and in many ways it will likely always be a draft document as context and situations change over time. We look forward to hearing from you!

I will pick up on a few points from our Playbook briefly to highlight where we are at in the process to the present date including some of the thinking behind the questions/answers:

Why Do We Exist?

This is the first and most fundamental question in any organization. By now you have likely heard about People and Purpose at London Christian High. We are understanding our central idea here to be moving people (students) towards purpose in Christ. From this basic idea the rest of the questions and answers flow.

Skipping a few questions down, How Will We Succeed?

Because we are a school, we are trying to be intentional about a learning process that we believe is both God-honouring and purpose-full in nature. We want to see our students actively engaged in the wider world, wrestling with real-life questions and making an impact wherever they go. We believe that God is calling each person to use their gifts to build His Kingdom in a multitude of ways.

What Is Most Important Right Now?

In order to work away at a learning process that is both God-honouring and purpose-full, we believe the first thing that needs to happen is investing in our staff so that they are equipped to lead learning. This is what we mean when we say 'people capacity'. We have made significant investments of time, energy and resources into our staff team to date and we are excited by the results. We are seeing our students impacting our wider community in a variety of classes from French to Shop to Biology and beyond! Building empathy is also central to this process as we work away at becoming a school community that understands others on a much deeper level, which actually makes a huge learning difference as well.

In the end, there is a lot more that could be said about the Playbook that can't adequately be captured in a single blog post. If you would like to learn more or you have feedback to add, please let us know!

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.