HDCH Spring

Year-End Top Ten

It’s Canada’s Wonderland Day at HDCH. This is a day for our students to go and have a great time in the sun and just celebrate the school year. It has been a great year, and I love that we culminate it with a really fun trip like this.

Read Also: A Word about the Bird

As we wrap up the year with a final week of exams, prom and graduation, we do so with deep gratitude to our God for our school and for the Christian learning that has been done.

In years past, we have ended the school year with a top ten list. This list is in David Letterman fashion. (Hopefully, this pop-cultural reference is still understood by everyone!) Before we share the highlights, know that this is not an exhaustive list. It is just a reminder of some of the awesome things that happened. I encourage you to take some time tonight and reflect with your child/ren and hear what their top 10 were for this year.

And so here is the Top Ten from the 2018/2019 School Year:

  1. Our opening assembly lead by our then Board Chair Allan Buist and his devotions about making right v. being right. It was a great set-up to our year on Belonging.
  2. The projects of HDCH Students
    • A playground project by our Venture Class that blessed the Calvin Christian School community with a new playground plan.
    • Our grade 9 Geography presentations to Brantford City Council about site planning and land usage.
    • The Collective Kitchen and the Water Walkathon with grade 11s.
    • The Sharing Beauty project with grade 9’s.
    • Our advanced woodworking class building a garage for someone in need.
    • The crew that renovated the HDCH Garage by the volleyball nets into change rooms and a tuck shop.
    • The list goes on and on.
  3. School culture around the theme of Belonging – We have an amazing school with incredible staff and students who fully engaged in the theme of Belonging this year. It was led by a great group of Student Council students who embraced and championed the theme.
  4. OFSAA – The Pinnacle of high school sports is OFSAA. And this year, like other years, we’ve sent a number of teams and individuals to this prestigious event. We also hosted Boys and Girls Soccer OFSAA. Here are some medals we won this year:
  5. Bronze Medal for Boys Volleyball
  6. Bronze Medal for Justin Sawyer in Snowboarding
  7. Mary Poppins was a hit: fun, exciting, funny and lots of incredible acting, singing and dancing.
  8. Our talent assembly – Once again, the talent on display was dazzling. Sophia Korz’s song truly amazed us all.
  9. Our Winter Residency (February PD Days) with Darryl DeBoer to learn and work with our Christian Worldview and the learning that happens at HDCH. It was a time to dig into the reason we are who we are here in Hamilton, a time for us to consider our Deep Hopes as a Christian School and translate these into learning in our classrooms.
  10. The Staff of HDCH – I want to draw our attention to the group of adults that makes HDCH amazing. Every staff member is committed to the vision of Christian Education, a vision that is rooted in the mission of cultivating character through learning for a life of service to God.

Thank you for a fantastic year. See you around.
Nathan

 

 

Read Also: A Word About the Bird >>

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Celebration as Blessing

Once, when I was a teenager, I was told that I could be a blessing to others. At the time that concept didn’t make sense to me. I had grown up mistakenly thinking that I was to receive a blessing. I had never considered that I could, in turn, be a blessing. Well, since hearing that phrase I have continued to think about ways in which I can be a blessing. How can I bless others so that they, in turn, can bless others? It’s a simple concept learned at a young age, and yet it has become a lifelong consideration.

One of the ways that we can be a blessing to others is by celebrating them. Psychologist Kurt Thompson suggests that the act of celebration is a form of participation in building the Kingdom of God. Thompson proposes that when we make something and present it to someone that we love, the loved one’s response is significant to how we feel about our work and about ourselves. For example, if I write a poem and share it with someone I love, their response doesn’t only determine how I feel about the poem, but also how I feel about myself and whether I will write another poem. A celebration of my poem by my loved one might actually encourage me to write another poem — or maybe several.

With this impact of celebration in mind, I encourage you to come on out tomorrow between 7 and 9 pm and celebrate your child’s work at our Spring Celebration of Learning. Check out the student projects and performances, see what amazing learning is happening at HDCH every day. Come and Celebrate with us, and be a blessing to your child — and to someone else’s as well.

I look forward to seeing you around.

Be well.
Nathan

May Days

May days at HDCH are quite something. May is a busy month in the life cycle of our school year. Nearly two-thirds of our student body is engaged in an extra-curricular activity, and this is on top of all the curricular elements going on. There seems to be a class trip, a sporting event, or a performance of some sort every day. Just last week was: The Milestone Meal, The Membership Meeting, our Ministry of Education Inspection, the Mary Poppins musical, and Christian School Soccer tournament… and I am certain I am missing some. Each of these events are important and it takes a significant investment of energy to pull them off to the high standard we have set for ourselves. And we believe that working towards these various happenings helps us accomplish our mission, to cultivate character through learning for a life of service to God.

In the midst of this May goodness and fullness — and even as we know there is much more good work to be done before the end of the year — our community is navigating grief. Our students and staff came together Monday morning to acknowledge that a couple of our members have experienced significant losses recently. And we know that other members of our community are dealing with serious health issues in their families. It was good to be together and to mourn with those who mourn. It was good to pray together to our God, who sees and knows our joys and sorrows, and who has given us each other for comfort and support.

Last week, when the Inspector for the Ministry of Education was wrapping up her visit with the Leadership Team, she left us with a high compliment. She said, “This school is an exemplary school of learning and assessment.” As a school community, we can be proud of our exceptional staff, and of our students and their learning. What a Ministry Inspector doesn’t look for, however, is the character of our students and the strength of our community of faith. It is in difficult days, such as these, that we are reminded of the exemplary the care and the strong relationships we have at HDCH.

Well done, HDCH. Strength to us all as we aim to finish well to the end of the season.

Be well.
Nathan

Spring Into Membership

As the buds begin to break the shackles of winter, we are reminded that we serve a faithful God who is revealed to us season after season, year after year.

With the reverence of Good Friday and the bursting forth of Easter Sunday still in close in our rearview mirrors, we drive forward into the hope of living in a life of the resurrection.

We also acknowledge and know that God reveals himself through the seasons of our life and the seasons of the school’s life. And this year has been no different, as the Principal of HDCH, I am excited to share that our mission is alive and well and our students and that these children are blessed every day by the learning that happens within our four walls.

I continue to be impressed with the staff at HDCH as we continue to develop in our ability to make a Christian life and worldview into something that sticks with our students. I am impressed by how our teachers call our children to learn more about themselves, about God’s good creation, and about how they can respond to that creation. Projects, assignments, conversations, observations, all of these are part of a day of learning for a student at HDCH. And all of these individual experiences and events are framed within the context that we are characters in God’s grand story for Creation. Our work at HDCH is to uncover the gifts of our students through their learning so that they might see their place in God’s grand Story.

Pray for us as well keep at this mission, pray for us as we continue to cultivate character through learning so that our students ultimately serve God in all that they do.

I look forward to seeing you at the Membership Meeting on May 6th as we make decisions that will forward this mission, like voting on the 2019-2020 budget. We will also be sharing our plan for funding our Campus Renewal Project. The Board and leadership of HDCH covet your attendance and input; we hope you’ll join us to learn more about this plan that has a significant impact on our future.

Be well.
Nathan

Seasons of Change

As the buds begin to break the frozen shackles of winter, we are reminded that we serve a faithful God who is revealed to us season after season, year after year. As the seasons change, we see how God reveals himself through Creation. We also know that God reveals himself to us through the seasons of our lives and the seasons of life of Hamilton District Christian High School.

As many of you know, we are entering a season of change at the leadership level for HDCH. If you haven’t already you might want to click here to read the Memo set to the membership on behalf of the Board.

These leadership changes bring more changes, new roles and responsibilities to fill. Pray for the leadership of HDCH to discern as we go through this next season of assigning people to the new roles at HDCH. We do all of this work knowing that as a community, we serve a faithful God, a God so faithful that He sent his son to die on the cross for us so that we might have life. This life is for us to live in the fullness of his glory.

This coming weekend, we will encounter both the reverent grief of Good Friday and the joyful bursting-forth of Easter Sunday. We will be reminded that living in the moment of our seasoned lives is means that, while at times we experience grief, ultimately we are called to be a people of the resurrection.

May we all be filled with this hope and life this Easter weekend.

Nathan

Student Project Fund

On Saturday night (March 30th), our community came together to celebrate and support HDCH and specifically the Student Project. If you were there, you would know that this evening was a fantastic night of laughter and celebration. The food was delicious, and the decorations were excellent. Being a part of the atmosphere was exciting. Although we don’t have the final numbers yet, we raised almost $11,000.

See photos >>

The Student Fund is dedicated to providing financial support for students and staff who dream bigger than the operating budget of HDCH.

The people in attendance on Saturday night demonstrated a commitment and desire to see our students’ learning, and how their story and God’s story are woven together in the projects that they do. They showed a commitment to providing funds when the idea of dreaming is bigger than our budget. Saturday night has a direct impact on our students’ learning at HDCH. If you couldn’t make and would still like to donate it’s not too late. We are still accepting donations for this fund.

At HDCH, we go deeper in and further out in learning to live into our Christian world and life-view. Deeper in and further out captures the great commission: to love our neighbours (further out) as we love ourselves (deeper in).

There is a connection between going deeper into who we are as image bearers of God and going further out to be of service to one another and our broader community. And Saturday night we celebrated this vision and mission.

Thank you to all who made it happen and thank you to all who attended.

Nathan

Taking Delight in our Children

We never get tired of hearing good things about our kids.

This morning, a guest speaker came into the office after spending the first period of the day with one of our classes. She is an experienced high school educator now working in post-secondary education, and came to the office to tell us that there is something special about our school, that every time she has come here to talk with classes she has found the students quite delightful.

She said there is a wonderful positive energy in this place, and a refreshing openness in our kids to engage with the world around them in all its beauty and brokenness. She called your children, our children, lovely. We loved hearing that!

Of course you and we who work with these youngsters every day know that it can also be messy and broken and bumpy along the way, but it’s good to be reminded by the fresh eyes of a visitor of the loveliness in them. Let’s never forget to take delight in our children.

The Spirit is at work in them and through them. The Spirit moves through the hallways and classrooms of HDCH. Our children are learning and growing, and we too, their parents and teachers, are learning and growing.

Be encouraged today that He who began a good work in them and us will carry it on to completion.
Duncan Todd, Vice Principal

P.S. We look forward to sharing some of the loveliness (and maybe a bump or two!) with you as our students reflect on their learning next week Thursday and the following Tuesday at the Student Learning Conferences. Please don’t forget to sign up in Edsby.

The March to April

HDCH provides and delivers an amazing Christian Education.

It’s amazing because it’s delivered by some of the best teachers I have ever known. In mid-February, we held our two-day Professional Development session that we call ‘The Winter Residency.’

These two days provide the staff with an opportunity to dig deeper into topics and themes that enhance and bless the learning in our school. We have looked at a number of things over the years, and this year we focused on the ways we infuse our learning with a Christian Worldview through our work. As we talked about this during the residency, it is taking our Christian worldview and translating that into a ‘Christian World-do.’

We spent the two days, led by Darryl DeBoer from Surrey Christian Schools, focusing on God’s Story and inviting our students into that. We drilled deeper into how we can better integrate God’s Story into our project design, into the liturgies of our classrooms, and into the regular routines of learning and school.

Professional Development activities like this support our awesome staff in continued growth. The time to reflect and to work in PD sessions provides momentum to teachers in their work as designers of projects, of classes, and of learning. In fact, staff are working on a protocol cycle small groups to continue to increase intentionality of faith and worldview in our projects and assignments. Darryl left us with some very helpful tools to use.

As our teachers work on their craft in residency sessions and during their Thursday morning Collegial Connection PD times,  it is inspiring to see their investment both in doing great work and in blessing their students through great learning. When we see our teachers invest their heads, hands, and hearts in weaving together great projects with a Christian worldview, we see our mission come alive. And I’m so grateful that these exceptional people are teaching our children.

Nathan

A Community Endeavour

It’s enrollment time again at HDCH!

We continue to be encouraged by our steadily growing grade nine class for 2019-2020. We are grateful for the number of inquiries we are seeing from families across the region, and not just for grade nine. This is encouraging news for us.

There are many reasons people send their child to a Christian high school. Last week, the HDCH staff spent two days together focused on improving how we integrate Christian worldview in our classes. We were encouraged to consider our role in God’s Story, and how we might better invite students into active participation in that story. Christian faith is an important part of why people enrol their children at HDCH.

I believe another great reason to enrol at HDCH is our learning vision of Deeper In and Further Out. At its heart, this is the vision that we go deep into learning–into knowing ourselves, growing in character, skills, and content — and further out, that is, doing learning that is a blessing to the communities where we live and work and learn.

Our desire is to support our students as they develop in character through learning for a life of service to God, no matter where He places them. Some interesting results about the long-term impact of Christian schooling are discussed here in this Cardus study on Christian education in Canada.

It’s our students and graduates that really show what a Christian high school education at HDCH is all about. Check out our website, and the uKnight, for stories that show Deeper In, Further Out in action.

As both a Christian educator and as a parent who enrols my children in Christian schools, I often look for ways to promote Christian education to those who aren’t familiar with it. If you know of anyone who might be interested in our school as an option for their child, please put them in touch with me, Nathan Siebenga nsiebenga@hdch.org.

This work is a community endeavour; we covet and are blessed by your participation as parents, supporters, and promoters of Christian high school education.

Nathan

Coffee Time

I grew up in Bowmanville, Ontario, where my parents were highly invested in the local Christian Schools: my mom was a teacher at the Elementary School and my Dad was a principal of the High School.

As a result, our lives mostly circled around the rhythms of the Christian School calendar. Some Saturday mornings, this meant going to the school with my dad where my siblings and I would play in the gym while Dad was doing administrative work in his office.

Often, on these days, we would go for coffee to the Brinkmans’. The Brinkmans were stalwarts in the community and founding members of the high school, and in fact, they lived just three doors down from the high school. What was amazing about those coffee visits was that there were often many members of the community there. It seemed like everyone knew to show up around 10:30 am for coffee on Saturday mornings.

As you walked into the room, the conversation was predictably about one of two topics: either the church or the Christian school. These were institutions that the folks filling the Brinkman’s living room loved, and to which there were deeply committed. Sure enough, no sooner than my dad sat down on a Saturday morning, he would be engaged in conversation about what was happening at the Christian High School.

Coffee time, whether at the Brinkmans’ on a 1980’s Saturday morning, or at a coffee shop with friends on a 2019 weekday evening, has a way of giving everyone involved a chance to take a break, to break bread (or cookies or scones) together, and to have good conversation about life and about topics that matter to them — about the things they love.

And so, it is with this coffee time tradition in mind that I am excited to invite you to be part of such an experience here at HD. We hope you can join us at one of the Campus Conversation events coming up over the next several weeks. While the location and the era are different, the idea is the same.

Come and talk about talk about HDCH with a small group of people. Hear more about the Board’s plans for our future, ask your questions, share your opinions, and be part of what makes this community what it is. You can RSVP here.

I look forward to having a coffee with you.

Nathan

Looking Back. Looking Forward.

Happy New Year! It’s the year of our Lord 2019.

May He be glorified by the work of HDCH and the people in it.

If you are anything like me, there is some reflection (looking back) and some projection (looking forward) that happens around the New Year. And while I know that not all of us practice resolutions or even find them necessary, the act of reflection and the art of projection are common in a lot of homes. For some of us with children in grade 12, the projection and anticipation around the events of the next year or so might be forefront.

Reflection and projection also happens at HDCH. The Leadership Team takes time to reflect on the past year to consider what might come in 2019.

We reflect on the good work that has happened in the classrooms and hallways of HDCH in 2018. Our Celebration of Learning tomorrow night will showcase some of this work. And we reflect on the strategic direction we have set for HDCH and how we measure up in our execution of being a school that cultivates character through learning for a life of service to God.

And then we project. We know that there are some significant things coming in 2019, including some transformative decisions that need to be made about our vision of a new high school building on our campus, our vision of campus development, our vision for the potential use of our current building. We are continuing our conversations with our wider community about the best way to provide Christian Education in the Hamilton District region.

In all of this, we reflect and project with the confidence that 2019 is the year of our Lord. It is our desire to be God-honouring and to be a faithful Christian community for the wider community of Hamilton.

I ask all of you to put HDCH on your prayer list for 2019, as we lead into this year — and beyond.

Nathan