Online Learning Together

Welcoming Back Students

We are excited to reconnect with you next Monday, March 30 as we cultivate our character together, through our learning, for lives of service to God. We understand that a new approach to learning will also present us with new challenges. Your teachers desire to work with you through high expectations and high support, as we navigate learning together.

Some keys for you as we enter learning next Monday.

Learning from home is now our new classroom
We want to create an environment that supports great learning and allows us to enjoy our experience with each other. The expectations online reflect the same expectations we have in our physical classrooms. This includes the language we use in discussions and in online discussion groups and chat rooms.


Teachers will take attendance each day
You are required to attend your 10AM and your 1PM class. See the schedule below. (ie. On Mondays you will go to period 1 at 10AM and go to period 3*** at 1PM).
NOTE: We will always be using Week 1 for classes.

If you are unable to attend a class, your parents need to communicate that you will be absent.
If you cannot be at a scheduled class at 10AM or 1PM, your parents can e-mail the HD office at We will follow up with students who are absent from classes, as attendance and participation is a key to good learning, just as attendance is critical when we are in the HD building

When you are absent
We realize there are times when you will be unable to attend a scheduled lesson. The expectation is that you engage with your lessons from the day at another time during the day. Your teachers will provide lessons that allow you to access material after the class. Your engagement in the lesson that day will serve as your attendance for that day



Technology Requirements

  • computer
  • internet access
  • a headset with a mic would be helpful as it reduces extra noise (cell phone earbuds with a mic generally work well); otherwise you can use the speakers and microphone on your computer.
  • Zoom

Teachers will frequently be using this online video conferencing application for conducting your lessons. If technology is a challenge for you at home due to multiple users or connectivity issues, we ask that your parents contact Mr. Todd ( regarding your concern.

Getting school resources
If you need to pick up textbooks, binders, instruments, or other supplies that are at school, you can come in at the dates and times below. You will be met by members of the leadership team to assist you. Be aware that proper distancing protocols will be enforced while inside the school building.

  • This Friday March, 27 10am – 11 am AND 5 – 6 pm
  • Tuesday, March 31, 7 pm – 8 pm

Staying Safe/working publicly

We encourage you to work in a space that is public and visible in your home. We realize that we’re entering your homes and you are entering each other’s homes. We want to create a safe learning environment as we work together.

Video recording and privacy
Teachers will be recording some lessons so students who are absent are able to view the lesson from the day. Teachers will make you aware when this is the case. You can turn off the video in the chat if you wish not to be recorded. Videos will only be posted for internal use.

Asking questions
We desire to provide you with high support. In a physical classroom, we often can see where students are challenged by content or technology. We highly encourage you to ask questions so you can receive support when you are unclear of expectations or unable to proceed due to technological issues.

Please follow dress-down / spirit wear expectations when you are online.

Stay Up-to-date

Final words of advice from those who have done online learning: One of the struggles that students have with e-learning is that there isn’t “class time” in the same way, to do work. We want to encourage you to stay up-to-date in your courses each day, using time after class to follow up the lessons. Be prepared to spend a few hours per class each week to stay ahead in your courses. Your teachers will do regular check-ins to support you in achieving daily learning goals.


For class specific questions, please contact your teacher via Edsby or email. For wellness resources or concerns, please see the contact card Mr. Apers sent in his health and wellness memo. Let me know ( if you have any other questions that aren’t addressed here.

We are looking forward to getting back to learning with you.

Mr. Owen Webb, Dean of Students
Hamilton District Christian High

CARE: A Core Value

When we conducted a fundraising feasibility study in the Fall to consider next steps with our facility development, the feedback from both staff and our parent and support community put a high value on care: care for students, care for our building, and care for our resources – material and natural. Our community felt that deep care for the wellbeing and growth of our students was both a core value and key strength of HDCH.

Now, as we consolidate our plans and look to the future, we want to keep God’s call to us to care for people at the centre of our vision.

On Tuesday evening (10th March), the Board has called a special Membership Meeting to vote on some facility maintenance (roof and HVAC) and development projects (accessibility and learning spaces) that we want to tackle this summer.

I hope you will come to the meeting, whether or not you are a Member, to hear and participate in our shared vision for our facility and our children. And I hope you will see in our plans the theme of care shining through: stewardly care for this building God has given us, and loving care for the people He brings us

Duncan Todd, Principal
Hamilton District Christian High

Winter Residency

Staff Conversations on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

On Thursday and Friday last week, our staff gathered for our “Winter Residency” – two days of focused professional development where we can dig deeply into a particular topic. When we mentioned in the last uKnight that we would be talking this time about SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) as it pertains to our student community, there was a range of responses from our school community. Some voiced their support that we were going to speak frankly about the marginalized experience of a portion of our student body. Others saw in it hints of a political agenda creeping into our Christian school. Some expressed concern that we might compromise our Biblical foundations for contemporary sensibilities.

Our staff, much like our wider school community, reflects a diverse range of theological, emotional, and intellectual positions on this topic, as we do on several others. Even so, we are united in our desire to honour and serve the Lord in all we do, to live in and teach obedience to His Word, and to love and serve faithfully every child-growing-into-adulthood that He brings to us here at HDCH. We all desire to see each one enter and grow in a living relationship with Him.

From that foundation of our shared purpose, we had rich and encouraging conversations, hearing and learning from each other’s perspectives. We are also becoming more aware of ways in which we can (unintentionally, by our language, our actions, our omissions, and our assumptions) hurt others and even “shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces” (Mt 23:13), alienating from Christ some who may thirst for Him most.

We intend this conversation to continue over the coming years and extend to include more members of our school community. Our hope, as we converse and learn, is that our posture to all our students might become one that is more Christ-like in accepting and loving each one, and walking beside them as the Spirit transforms and sanctifies each of us.

Duncan Todd, Principal

HDCH Leadership Team


Care for Every Student

Image-bearers of God

This year we are continuing to focus on the theme of belonging and to explore what it means to belong. Belonging and inclusiveness are the topics of assemblies, devotions, and projects, and this theme makes its way into the details of our school day in how we relate to each other from a restorative viewpoint.

As teachers, it is our desire that each child feels known and accepted in our classroom. To that end, we encourage students to get to know one another in circle time by asking questions that allow for personal expression. We facilitate small group and large group discussion so that all voices may be heard. We model structured learning conversations to provide feedback both publicly and privately so as to honour all learners. Intentional, meaningful things are happening all around the building to foster a sense of belonging for all of our students. But we are also aware that more can be done.

Next week Thursday and Friday the staff and some members of the Board will gather for the annual Professional Development days that we call our Winter Residency. In past years, the topics have included Christian perspective and worldview in education, using design thinking to tackle “big stumpers” in classroom practice, and many elements of teaching pedagogy related to project-based learning. We have invited speakers, taken field trips, worked hard, and built relationships through these focused days of teacher learning.

This year, our staff will focus on how we can better provide a place of belonging for our students who identify on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Our goal is to be unified in our desire to be a place of care for every student who walks our hallways and sits in our classrooms. It is our deep hope that each child feels safe, loved, and known.

To guide us toward that goal, we have invited Darren Spyksma from The Society of Christian Schools in British Columbia to lead us in conversation. Darren travels all over North America speaking to schools about how to care more intentionally for all kids, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It is not our goal to take a stand on a theological position or to challenge the viewpoints of our members; rather, it is our desire to love kids deeply, recognizing their worth as image-bearers of God.

Please partner with us in prayer as we listen, discuss, and learn together as educators, support staff, and board members. Pray for clarity in our communication, for community and love to be strengthened, and for God’s name to be honoured throughout the process.

We are blessed to be a part of a community where we can dialogue in honesty, care, and love. We hope to model healthy dialogue together as staff and to our students as well. Thank you for your continued commitment to HDCH.

~ HDCH Board & Leadership Team

Stress, Rest & Growth

It has been an intense time at school since returning from the Christmas break. The Celebration of Learning was indeed a celebration of many good things that our students have been doing. The hard work that went into this coincided with a time of wrapping up courses, completing summative assignments, reflecting on what has been learned, and, for some classes, preparing for this week’s exams.

These couple of weeks bring a heavy workload for most students and a lot of stress for many. As teachers and as parents, we are always trying to find the right balance for encouraging and stretching our children, but not overwhelming them. There is a fine line between eustress (the positive stress that motivates us) and distress (the negative stress that can discourage us).

At HDCH, we don’t always get it right for ourselves or our students. It’s more of a dance than an exact science. Each person is unique, and so many varying factors affect our ability to cope with stress. Since cultivating the character of our students is at the heart of our mission at HDCH, we do look to challenge and stretch them. We also seek to support them wisely and well. We will continue to evaluate and review how we do this.

When the last exams are written this week, there is a change of pace for a few days, and a chance for students to catch their breath. Then there is hope for a fresh start to a new semester next Wednesday. I hope that they will find time to rest and rejuvenate in the short break between these semesters, and, more than that, that a regular “Sabbath” rest will be part of their healthy weekly rhythm. For growth, we all need a balance of good stress and good rest.

Join us to Celebrate

Tomorrow night is our Celebration of Learning.

I hope you will all come and see the beautiful work our students have been doing this semester. To us, beautiful work does not mean just pretty displays, but work that shows effort, perseverance, and depth of thinking and learning, work that connects to a purpose beyond themselves, that is permeated with God’s redemptive action in our world, work that is directed toward loving God and loving our neighbour.

You might have heard this summarized in the catch-phrase “deeper in and further out” – look for evidence of this in tomorrow night’s celebration of our students’ learning. Ask the students about their work that they share, why it matters, how they have been stretched and have grown through it.

Discover more about COL >>

I hope you will see glimpses of what gives my colleagues and me, the staff of HDCH, so much joy and hope in what we do here: the cultivation of sound Christian character in our children, through their learning, oriented to lives of service to God.

Duncan Todd, Principal
Hamilton District Christian High

Eternal Significance

“Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God”

In Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s epic, nine-book poem “Aurora Leigh” Aurora, an aspiring writer, is trying to make sense of how an artist can write about both earthly, temporal things and spiritual, eternal things at once.

In some of the most beautiful lines of poetry ever written, Browning summarizes what so many have struggled to connect about the dual elements of nature and spirit. They exist, she tells us, as necessary parts of the same whole, joined inseparably through their creator who fashioned them both. She warns readers that if “we divide this apple of life” it will perish “as utterly as if we ate both halves.”

When Jesus Christ descended his royal throne to come to earth in the form of a squalling infant, the spiritual became as mundane as the earthy, dark stable to which it emerged. In every way, this tiny human was as normal and natural as “a tree, a leaf, a common stone.” Nothing about him signaled his divinity, and yet, this Emmanuel, God with us, was the very breath of God, warm and real, enrobed in human flesh.

What does it mean to be with?

Webster’s Dictionary defines it in part as a word that “indicates a manner of action” (e.g.: She ran the race with effort). In this context, to be with someone requires an active role, a choice to be in the moment.

Jesus with us is God’s choice to walk alongside us in empathetic care and to open the way to total reconciliation with him. Our job is to embrace that gift by taking the time to notice, to really see elements of the divine in the everyday.

As Browning says in her poem, “nothing’s small!” Every created thing, every task, every beautiful moment is “built up to eternal significance through the open arms of God.” When we can look at every part of our lives as eternally significant, we begin to see with the eyes of God. We can see “every common bush afire with God” and know to take off our shoes for we stand on holy ground. Without that vision, Browning warns, all we can do is “sit round it and pluck blackberries.”

This Christmas, dare to see the world with the eyes of God. There is divinity in the smallest of moments, Christ in and among us. Blessings to you and yours this Christmas season.

Sara Whetstone, Teacher & Vice Principal
Hamilton District Christian High

God’s Gift of our Amazing Brains

Have you ever entered a room and stood there forgetting just why you went all the way up the stairs in the first place?

Have you ever suddenly started whistling a tune that you haven’t heard in years?

This past weekend I had the enriching opportunity to attend a conference in Boston focused on how the brain thinks, remembers, and learns deeply. I heard a great variety of talks from Harvard professors, researchers, and educators from around the world.

Some spoke about their research into language acquisition and the importance of having conversational “turns” even with the smallest of infants. Others focused on how brains learn better when they are relaxed and in a safe space. Many talked about how deep learning can only be achieved through multiple, spaced-out retrieval sessions (review concepts early and often!). All of them agreed on one specific thing: the brain is a mysterious organism that we are only beginning to understand.

Our complexity and intricacy
As a Christian educator, I am continually amazed at the complexity and intricacy of human beings. Imagine how much God loves us and delights in us to design our bodies and brains to be so amazing! When we wrestle with a new concept or persevere through a challenge, we praise God by valuing the astonishing brain he gave us and by nurturing it to grow.

Celebration of Learning
On Thursday, January 9 our students will be presenting their work at our biannual Celebration of Learning. Some classes will be showing completed products that have undergone many rounds of drafts and feedback. Other classes may be demonstrating work that is still in progress. For many students, the products that are on display represent hours of digging deeply into a concept and exercising their brain muscle. One of our goals as educators is to teach students to reflect on their own work and their own learning process.

Next time you attend a CoL, ask a student one of these questions:

  • What is something that will stick with you after learning this concept?
  • What did this project teach you about your own learning styles and how you learn best?
  • What part of this task was hard for you? How did you overcome it?
  • What did you learn through this process about God’s amazing world and your place in his story?

I am continually thankful for the learning that I see happening in our classrooms and hallways. If you haven’t seen it for yourself, come! Celebrate God’s gift of the amazing brain with us.

Sara Whetstone, Teacher & Vice-Principal
Hamilton District Christian High

Future Belonging

This year, as last year, our theme as a school has been Belonging.
We’ve been thinking and talking together about what it means to be a faithful school community; what it means to learn and work with each other, and what it means to belong to each other as part of the body of Christ.

Next Thursday, November 21, we have the opportunity to welcome Grade 8 students to HDCH for the day. Our goal for this special Exceler8 Day is for Grade 8 students to experience HDCH, to meet some of our staff and students, to have fun, and to eat delicious food.

Most of all, we hope to give them a taste of our community of belonging. We hope they leave this day with a sense that they could be an HDCH Knight next year–or even that they are HDCH Knights already!

If you know someone who might like to experience a day of life and learning at HDCH, please share this event with them and invite them to attend!

Questions? Contact Kris Slootweg, our Director of First Impressions, and she’ll make sure they get everything they need to find out more about HDCH.

Cheryl Webb, Director of Operations
Hamilton District Christian High

A deep love for HDCH

Farewell, Nathan

It is with some sadness, and also a strong sense of gratitude for what has been, that we announce to our community Nathan Siebenga’s resignation from HDCH. Nathan’s gifts as a leader have been a great blessing to HDCH during his stint as a Vice Principal, and more specifically during his eight years as Principal.

In August 2010, Nathan introduced project-based learning (PBL) to a somewhat intrigued HDCH staff and set out a transformative vision for Christ-centred learning that would engage students more deeply and purposefully in their learning. As Principal he pursued that vision relentlessly and coaxed, urged, and sometimes, with the persistence of a prophet, pressed us to change. His leadership pushed not only HDCH to expand our vision for Christian learning, but also had a significant transformative influence province-wide and even beyond, particularly in Christian schools. The Christian Teachers Academy, birthed at HDCH under Nathan’s leadership, has been an important vehicle for that transformation in Ontario, other provinces, and even internationally.

Nathan is an innovator, visionary, and dreamer, and has always been driven by a desire to see the kind of learning in our schools that will bless the current and future generations of our children to discover, develop, and deploy their God-given gifts in faithful service of God’s Kingdom.

The proposed new facility project, which has now been put on hold for reimagining, was spearheaded by Nathan and represented part of his dream to remove physical obstacles and provide the spaces in which innovative, purposeful, Christ-centred learning could flourish. That dream for flexible learning spaces at HDCH will continue to inform our vision for facility renewal and development as we move forward.

On a personal note, I am deeply grateful to Nathan for how he has helped me grow in so many ways, and particularly in my understanding of God’s work in and through a place like HDCH. Nathan leaves with a deep love for HDCH and for the people who have journeyed with him here these past 17 years. He goes with our wishes for God’s blessing on the next chapter in his professional adventure.

Duncan Todd, Principal
Hamilton District Christian High

Education Withness

Student Learning Conferences

Tomorrow night is our first round of Student Learning Conferences (SLC’s) for this semester. For a few years now we have been strongly encouraging students to come to these meetings with their parents and teachers:

  • so that they can participate in the conversation about and take ownership of their learning,
  • so that the partnership between home and school for the student’s growth and learning can be strengthened,
  • and so that we can do education with rather than to or for our students.

I hope these evenings (Oct 17 & Oct 22) will confirm for you that their teachers know and love your children. We don’t always get it right, of course, so hearing your insights into your child’s unique personality and gifts are always helpful.

We hope that each student will feel honoured and supported as they talk about their learning in each class, their struggles and successes, their frustrations and their joys. And we hope that you, the parents, will learn something about your child and the way the Spirit is calling them and working in them and through them in their learning at HDCH.

Duncan Todd, Principal
Hamilton District Christian High