The Past

The past eight months have been challenging, exciting, and frustrating all at the same time.

The greatest challenge that we faced as a school community this past school year was ensuring that we continued to provide a safe, nurturing learning environment for our students, despite the difficult circumstances that we found ourselves in. The task of balancing the risk of direct infection and transmission of COVID-19 with the impact of school closures on our students’ physical, mental, and spiritual health was a daunting task indeed. Creating and maintaining this environment was a shared responsibility, and I would personally like to thank our students, parents, staff, Board and school community for their prayers of wisdom, protection, and unity. Your faithful support of our policies, procedures and protocols were a tremendous blessing to our immediate and extended school community. Thank you so much!

One of the most exciting blessings we enjoyed during this school year was tremendous academic growth. From September 8 to December 18 and February 8 to April 9, our students reaped the benefits of the in-person interaction enhanced by our smaller class sizes. Although it is always difficult to limit school enrolment, the Board’s decision to limit our class sizes to sixteen students allowed us to maintain both continued physical protection, as well as academic excellence.

Another exciting blessing was the growth of our school community. It was a privilege to welcome 25 new families and 36 new students to OCS in September. The addition of these dedicated parents and students brought our total school numbers to 84 families and 152 students. Every room in the school has been used to accommodate our record-breaking numbers, including the gym and “bunker”. Personally, I am eagerly awaiting the day when we will all be able to gather in-person as a school community for formal introductions, rich Christian fellowship and perhaps a few long overdue hugs!

Although I have always tried to maintain a positive, upbeat message for our school community, it would be disingenuous not to confess how frustrating the last eight months have been for me personally as well. I will not provide a list of all the activities, events and interactions I have missed. I will not share my personal disappointments with some of our local, provincial and federal leaders. Representing our school community is a privilege, and as the principal, I will continue to strive to advocate for our parents and students in a way that brings honour and glory to our God.

Present

This brings us to our present circumstances. The latest announcement from our provincial government will require us to continue remote learning for the remainder of the school year. Our students, staff and parents have worked incredibly hard throughout the pandemic, and I would personally like to thank you for your efforts.

Our provincial government and local public health unit are currently preparing guidelines aimed at providing students in Ontario with a positive conclusion to their school year. More details will be shared in the very near future.

Future

The staff, administration and Board are actively planning for the 2021-2022 school year. Discussions concerning teacher, room and class assignments continue to occur daily. The following list of updates provides a short summary of the important decisions that have been made to date.

Facility Update

  • All of our students will be taught in classrooms located at our current school location.
  • All of our students will be assigned classrooms in our school building and current portables.  
  • The gymnasium will be available for physical education classes and project-based learning every day.  Weekend rentals will also resume if restrictions allow.
  • Our parking lot will be expanded during the summer months. 

Staffing Update

  • Mr. Rick Schenk’s administrative duties will increase from 50% to100%.  
  • Mrs. Jenny Bakker’s administrative and special education duties will increase from 50% to100%.
  • Mrs. Yolanda Ryzebol will serve in the office on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursday.
  • Mrs. Gwen Kampen will serve in the office on Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • Mrs. Samantha Boschman will be on a maternity leave for the upcoming school year.
  • Miss Emily Talsma has been hired to teach in the primary division for the upcoming school year.

Enrolment Update

  • As of June 5, 2021, the following numbers are being projected:
    • 20 new families
    • 40 new students
    • 96 families
    • 184 students
  • Four of our classes are currently at capacity.
  • Five of our classes still have limited spaces.

The Board will also be discussing a strategic plan for the next 3-5 years, with, Lord willing, many exciting changes to come!  In the near future, an Executive Summary of the completed Campaign Feasibility Planning Study, conducted by Influencing Generations for Christ (IGC), will be shared with our support community.  Next steps, including recommendations for implementing a Capital Campaign, will be carefully considered once our new Board members have been confirmed at our upcoming membership meeting.   

Conclusion

As always, God has and continues to bless our school community.  He has faithfully guided OCS for more than 40 years, and we eagerly await his continued protection for years to come.

“For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”

Psalm 100:5

Blessings,

Rick Schenk

Rick Schenk
Principal
Orangeville Christian School

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