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.


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.


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.


The World Waits

Tomorrow night is our Christmas concert. The World Waits is its theme. It seems to me that the world waits for nothing these days, and that this time of year ramps up the RPM’s of life.

There are all the usual things on our schedules, and then we add more: parties, pageants and productions, including a high school Christmas concert. Add all this to the hustle and bustle of getting ready for Christmas time with family and friends, and our lives can get quite hectic.

Our busyness at this time of year brings a certain irony, a tricky juxtaposition, to our Concert’s theme of waiting. And yet, we have a knowledge and understanding of waiting. We wait during Advent for the coming of Christ. We light candles in beautiful wreaths and reflect on the coming of Christ to this earth. We are a waiting people, even when it feels as though we are rushing through this time of anticipation.

The concert starts at 7:00 pm on Thursday. If you have attended in past, you know that it is a fantastic evening. I hope you’ll make the commute to the high school, wrangle the family along with you, find a spot in the gym, settle into your chair, and take a deep breath as the lights go dim. Turn off the hustle and bustle for an hour and a bit, and rest in the beauty of the music, the message, and most of all, the Messiah.


Being Bold with Deep Hope

Every day, we get to come to a school that puts Jesus Christ at the centre of everything it does. Students get to come and learn about who they are as image bearers and what it means to serve the Lord. Every day, this mission is accomplished at HDCH.

The Board of HDCH desires to continue advancing this mission. Maybe you’ve heard that HDCH has big plans. On November 5, we all got a chance to see one piece of this plan: the building that we will do Christian High School in for the foreseeable future. At The Voice, after our Fall Membership Meeting, the Board of HDCH shared with the membership a taste of what a new high school building would look like, should the plan to renew the campus of HDCH be approved next May.

The goal of this meeting was to give a brief overview of the campus and then focus in-depth on the high school building itself. It was a fantastic time of seeing our future high school building and imagining what we can become within it. Over 100 members showed up, saw some images, heard the vision, and participated in giving feedback to the Board.

It is the Board’s hope that at the May membership meeting there will be a vote on the motion to go forward with our plans for Campus Renewal. Between now and May there are three main priorities regarding this project:

  1. Create a Business Plan that explains how the finances will work,
  2. Continue working on the design of the High School, and
  3. Create and communicate a clear plan forward for the existing building and for future possibilities for the campus.

Stay tuned for more communication about this significant decision in the history of HDCH. If you have questions and suggestions, the Board would love to hear from you directly through our Vice-All, Allan Buist, or through me, Nathan Siebenga.

As we unpack what the future might be, we know this is a daunting task. It is in this vein that the Board and Leadership covet your prayers for our future. Pray that we make wise decisions and that God blesses our desire and ability to cultivate the character of students through learning for lives of service to God. Pray that we have the courage to continue with a bold vision for our future and with a deep hope that the mission of our school can be a blessing to communities regionally, provincially, nationally and even internationally.

This vision for HDCH is five-generational. It’s about the founders over 60 years ago; it’s about the two and three generations that have been part of this school; and it’s about the generations of children who are yet to walk through these doors as students. As Allan noted, “We’re at a time in the history of HDCH where we have an opportunity to honor those who went before us, to recognize our present reality, and to prepare for the future.” We look forward to preparing for it together.


Knights Next Year

Welcoming Grade 8s

All year, our theme for our school community has been belonging.

  • What does it mean to be a Christian community of belonging?
  • How do we make it right when community is broken?
  • How can we create a community of belonging for each other?

Next Thursday, November 22 is our annual Exceler8 Grade 8 Day. On that day, about 130 grade eight students from Fruitland to Jarvis to Brantford to Milton and all points in between come to HDCH for the day.

We have activities planned for them, we have great food to share, we will introduce them to the learning. We have staff and students who can’t wait to meet them and welcome them to this place.

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 a Knight next year–or even that they are Knights already.

If you know someone who might like to experience a day of life and learning at HDCH, please share this even with them and invite them to attend! Questions? Contact Gillian Doucet Campbell, our Director of Recruitment and Advancement, and she’ll make sure they get everything they need to find out more about HDCH.

Exceler8 Event Page >>

Engaging Interactions

A couple of years ago, Dr. Owen Webb spoke at The Voice, the community gathering we hold after every membership meeting that focuses on a specific topic in the life of HDCH.

He shared that, based on the number of students and staff at HDCH, each individual has the potential for 125,000 different one-to-one interactions. If you ask Owen, he will give you the math equation that helped him figure this out.

When I consider the sheer number of possible interactions in our school community, I’m struck by the boldness of this year’s theme of Belonging. If we envision 125,000 healthy relational interactions, what day-to-day work needs to happen to bring this about?

This Monday, November 5, we’ll be engaging beyond the 125,000 by inviting parents and members to connect at our fall membership meeting. These evenings typically consist of a New Parents Welcome Dinner, followed by the business portion of our HDCH membership meeting, which is then followed by The Voice.

The Voice this fall will focus again on Campus Renewal. Last spring, the leadership of HDCH presented a broad vision of our Campus. The goal was to share the possibilities of what we could do with our property. This coming Monday night, we invite you to find out in more detail about the proposed first phase of renewal: the design of a new high school that reflects a vision for high school learning for the generation to come. It is a big dream and we can’t wait to share it with you.

To belong to each other is a bold vision. Our membership meeting is one way that we can actualize this vision. See you there.


Word From Another Bird

As we head toward Student Learning Conferences this week and next, we as a staff are reminded of the keys we are focusing on this year for building a climate of belonging at HDCH:

Known: Every member of HDCH is known and knows others; knows and pursues their purpose.

We strive that our children will feel known through the SLC’s and will also be able to show a growing knowledge of themselves, their gifts and their purpose.  We are committed to getting to know the students in our care, and creating intentional opportunities for them to get to know one another and themselves better.

Honoured: Every member of HDCH is respected; respects self and others as image bearers of God.

This mutual respect and honouring of one another as image-bearers should be evident in all our interactions and our language at HDCH.  We ask ourselves:  Do we use language, and do we tacitly condone our children using language, that dishonours our fellow image-bearers?  How are we building a vocabulary of respect in our classes (and homes) that creates a sense of belonging for all?

Beloved:  Every member of HDCH is loved and shows love to others.

Is love tangibly evident in our homes, our classes and the hallways of HDCH?  What daily habits are we cultivating to show love in action?  Do students leave our classes knowing they are loved?  Our hope is that parents will leave the Student Learning Conferences knowing their children are loved here, cared for, and prayed for.

We look forward to meeting with students and parents at our Student Learning Conferences this week and next.

Duncan Todd, Vice-Principal
Hamilton District Christian High

To Belong and to Be Longing

You may have heard from your child that our theme at HDCH this year is ‘Belonging’. Over the last month, we have had a number of short assemblies, long assemblies, grade-specific conversations and class devotions connected to this theme. There have been some really good returns from this focus.

Students have shared what actions create belonging, and what actions break community. We have heard that most students feel belonging more often than not, but we still have room to make it better. We’ve all been challenged to make a choice, each day, about at least one thing we can do to help create belonging at HDCH.

One of the benefits of this focus is that, in my experience, HDCH as a community has had what I would call a sunny climate to start the year. This climate is a feel of connection and community all around the building. Belonging is happening at HDCH. I have loved walking the hallways and sensing the Spirit working in our school through this theme.

This theme has me contemplating how longing connects to belonging. And here’s why: I have understood belonging as the feeling of fitting in with others. It was a feeling for me, when I went into a room, as to whether I fit in with the group. It’s that moment when I do an assessment as to who I am and if I am welcome. If I feel like I belong, I can enter the space and feel relaxed.

But I want us to consider a different perspective. What would it be like for me to enter a room, not looking to belong, but rather longing to connect with the other people in it? What if I flipped the script on the word belong, and instead longed to show God’s care for others as fellow image-bearers? What if I had a posture of longing as I walked into a room as opposed to a posture of defensiveness or self-protection? And then I wondered, what if every student and teacher at HDCH walked into the building with a posture of longing like this?

So, consider what it might be like to be longing. And be encouraged by the example of our God, “longs to be gracious to us” and who is the reason we have the capacity to grow in belonging together.


PS – And speaking of connections, our staff looks forward to connecting with you and your kids at this semester’s Student Learning Conferences.

The Importance of Posture

When I was younger, my mom and dad used to regularly tell me to sit up straight. Posture seemed to matter a lot to my parents. Posture is “the position or bearing of the body” or “a conscious mental or outward behavioural attitude.”

While I didn’t understand why posture was a big deal to my parents at the time, because of my their influence, I have tried to stand straight, square my shoulders and present myself with good posture throughout my life. My parents believed that good posture helped me portray a message without speaking.

Over the last few months, our leadership team has been working with a strategic theme of ‘Belonging’ for our school community. We are working on this as a foundation for the whole year, and there will be a number of specific things that we will be doing to weave ‘Belonging’ into the fabric of our community.

At the opening assembly, I talked to the students about our posture. I talked about how our body language communicates how we think and feel. Our posture can include or exclude others and their perspectives very quickly. Our posture tells others how we really feel about them, or how we really feel about what they do and say–even if our words suggest otherwise.

I invited our students to consider their posture when they are confronted with someone who thinks differently than they do. I asked the students to think in particular about hands, about the difference between a fist and an open hand. A fist is closed. It is unwelcoming. It can do damage. But an open hand can be extended to shake another hand, to high five, to receive a blessing. A fist pushes away. An open hand is an invitation.

And so, I want to remind all of us that as we work to make everyone feel like they belong at HDCH, we need to have a posture of openness and blessing. My mom and dad were right: posture matters. We can help others belong without saying a word.

See you around,


We’re back at it!


Welcome everyone to the 2018/2019 school year.

We open the doors to HDCH and welcome 456 students and over 50 staff into the building. We do so with open arms and huge smiles as we set out to cultivate character through learning for a life of service to God.

What a joy it is to work with the teenagers of our community. What a joy it is to unify towards a mission that calls us to go deeper in and further out. What a joy it is to do this within a context of community, a community that desire’s Christ’s likeness in all that we do. May this school year be to God’s glory and the coming Kingdom.

See you around,