This year marks another milestone for several Christian schools as they celebrate 40, 50, and 60 years of providing Christ-centered education to students across Ontario.
“As we gather to celebrate important milestones such as the anniversary of a school, we are honouring the great cloud of witnesses that surround us,” shared Ray Hendriks, Executive Director of the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools. While speaking to the communities of Trenton Christian School (TCS) and Chatham Christian School (CCS), both celebrating their 60th anniversaries this year, he shared, “We are honouring those in our communities whose commitment to teaching the Word of God to children of each generation has been a demonstration of God’s Kingdom here on earth.”
At their annual community barbeque in the fall, Trenton Christian School (TCS) principal Al Bron emphasized that the festivities are about more than recognizing a number. “We are thrilled to be celebrating 60 years of service at the school—but we are also gathered here to celebrate the community that invested in making this a possibility.” Mr. Bron noted that out of the sixty-four families that are currently registered at TCS, eight of them are second generation students and nineteen of them are third generation.
As part of their ongoing celebrations this year, TCS decided to reprise the original school play production of the Rudyard Kipling classic, The Jungle Book. The play was performed 38 years ago, and a few alumni students from the original cast performed the role of the vultures in this year’s throwback performance.
“It was amazing how it all came together!” shared Stacey Siebenga, a teacher at TCS. “The alumni that committed to the play were amazing, and the current students were thrilled to hear about what it was like to do the same play and to be able to perform with them.”
In addition to the musical performance, their gala evening included a testimony from a graduate of one of the first classes from 1956, a Bible reading by a family representing one of 19 third-generation families currently attending the school, musical performances by other alumni, and an address from city councillor Dave McCue. To end the evening, a hand-made prospector canoe was auctioned off. The canoe was built by students from Quinte Christian High School, some of which were also alumni of Trenton Christian School.
“After this year, we will have donated a canoe to each of our seven feeder schools,” shared Paul French, a teacher at Quinte Christian High School. “It is a blessing to be able to have this as part of our curriculum, and for the students to have the chance to give something back to the communities that have been a blessing to them in the past.”
Chatham Christian School (CCS) is also celebrating their 60th anniversary this year, and part of their gala evening included looking back to when the school first opened its doors to students from the Chatham community.
“I’d like to take a moment to give you a picture of what was going on in the lives of those who started this school,” shared Ron Middel, a former CCS board member. “John Diefenbaker was the Prime Minister of Canada, our favorite TV show was Leave it to Beaver, and the Ford Motor company introduced the Edsel. The average annual income was $4500, and a stamp cost three cents.”
Joe Wiersma, a board member at CCS for almost 20 of the last 60 years, expounded on this picture. “When I was on the board for the first time in 1964, my fellow board members were all tradespeople—a carpenter, a farmer, a demolition expert, a bricklayer, a plumber, and an electrician. There were no educational experts among us.”
“It took a lot of commitment and a lot of trust in God to direct our efforts and to bring this school into existence,” he continued. “There was a lot of sacrificial giving—people had to deny themselves the permission to buy something that was often important for daily living. But God has blessed the sacrifices that were made and has provided for our school in ways that exceeded our expectations.”
Durham Christian High School (DCHS) and Laurentian Hills Christian School (LHCS) will be celebrating 50 years of faithfulness this year, and have been busy planning evening celebrations for the spring. Durham students are especially looking forward to the Time Capsule Ceremony that will be held in conjunction with a worship and celebration service at DCHS next month.
“I always felt rooted in a loving community at Durham,” shared DCHS alumni Sonya VanderVeen Feddema. “Teachers cared about you—that came through every day.”
The year started with a “bang” at LHCS, as balloons were dropped down on students from the gym ceiling. In the fall, staff and students also planted two hundred tulip bulbs and two hundred daffodil bulbs at the back of the school yard.
“Our theme verse for the year is Psalm 100:5,” shared principal Ian Timmerman. “For the Lord is good, and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all the generations.”
“We are all looking forward to seeing the bulbs bloom in time for their anniversary celebrations in May” he continued, “and hope that staff and students will enjoy the flowers, like God’s faithfulness, for generations to come.”
Woodland Christian High School hosted two separate events in October to celebrate their 40th anniversary: a Heritage Day for grandparents, founders, and other senior friends, followed by an Anniversary Celebration day for families that included inflatable obstacle courses, carnival rides, and dunk tanks for kids. There were also alumni sporting events, themed alumni displays in which former students could reminisce with classmates, and an evening celebration of praise, featuring performances by an alumni choir and a reflection given by John VanAsselt, Woodland’s first principal.
“When we plan these celebrations and we take the time to consider our history, we see that God has used people—parents, grandparents, and great grandparents—to engage in their communities to assure that His word is taught to the children of that generation,” Mr. Hendriks shared in his address to the communities celebrating significant milestones this year. “And it remains our responsibility to ensure that this story continues to be told.
“So as we celebrate the 25th, the 40th, the 50th, and in some cases even the 60th anniversaries of our schools this year,” he concluded, “and as we reflect on God’s legacy and the blessings that have been woven through their journey up until this point, we celebrate with the same level of commitment, looking forward to God’s faithfulness to our communities in the future.”