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Beacon Christian Schools celebrate 50 years of Christian education

Written on May 29th, 2009

Hundreds of alumni to join in weekend festivities 

Hundreds of alumni, families and teachers past and present will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Beacon Christian Schools in St. Catharines May 29-31.

Stephanie Vanderwal, the 50th anniversary co-ordinator, says the weekend is a great opportunity for reminiscing and celebrating. She says the schools anticipate approximately 1,500 attendees.

Vanderwal says she is excited to see the expression on people’s faces as they enter the school, which was majorly renovated in 2007.

“Some people haven’t come here for the last 30, 40 years, so to come into this brand new school is pretty cool,” says Vanderwal.

Karen Gerritsma, principal of the elementary school, says she’s looking forward to celebrating 50 years of blessings.

“I’m hoping that we have huge crowds to celebrate those blessings, and also to look forward to say how have we changed in the last 50 years and what are our goals for the next 50 years,” says Gerritsma.

Gerritsma taught at the school for four years in the 1970s, and then returned at the school as principal in 1995. During the intervening period she continued to be involved in the community through the board and committees.

One of the key changes throughout the school’s history has been its more intentional focus to change culture for Christ, notes Gerritsma. The school ensures this is kept a priority, with students involved in service projects throughout the year.

“The vision that this world belongs to God and His kids need to learn as much about this world as they can to serve Him, that vision is the same, and that we teach every subject from a Christian perspective, that has not changed, but how we implement it has, and I think that’s exciting,” says Gerritsma.

To kick-start the weekend there is a Friday evening semi-formal reception at the elementary school gymnasium. Saturday features an open house for the general community, as well as a barbecue and children’s carnival followed by an alumni dinner at Club Roma.

A celebration service will be held at Bethany Community Church Sunday afternoon, with several speakers, an alumni choir and Grade 1-5 choir taking part in the service.

St. Catharines mayor Brian McMullan and MP Rick Dykstra will be joining the festivities.

“I’m pleased to offer my congratulations and best wishes to past and current students and teachers as they touch base with classmates, reconnect and talk about the past 50 years,” said McMullan in a press release. “A lot happens in 50 years and as St. Catharines has grown, so has Beacon Christian Schools.”

Dykstra said 50 years is a testament to the support and dedication of many people. “This is also a perfect opportunity for Beacon Christian Schools to pay tribute to the local community for a 50 year relationship that is stronger than ever,” said Dykstra.

Beacon Christian Schools began as an elementary school and is now both an elementary and secondary school with two campuses sharing six acres in north St. Catharines.

For more information on Beacon Christian Schools, visit