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

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.

Nathan

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.

Nathan

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.

Nathan