Excited faces weren’t hard to spot at John Knox Christian School’s opening assembly this year.
“I was watching the kids as they walked in,” says Karen Piccolo, Manager of Admissions at the Brampton based school. “They were kind of bouncing on the new floor, testing it out.”
Take one look at the before and after pictures of the JKCS gym, and it’s easy to see why energy in the room was high that day. New photos of the gym show a well lit, recently renovated space, where colors are crisp and bright. The lower half of the room’s walls, once covered in brown outdated carpet, are now a fresh shade of blue.
The gym is only one part of the school’s ongoing ‘reNEWal’ project, which, slowly but surely is transforming the JKCS facility. Building teams entered phase one of the renovation work this summer with a large to-do list in mind. Plans to completely renew the arts and science room, replace the old gym floor and build a new roof were some of the major items on the agenda. Other goals included installing HVAC units, converting the school’s kitchen into a new classroom, and improving sound and lighting where needed.
“Rooted in faith, together we can!” has become the reNEWal project’s mantra. It’s also a sentiment that volunteers have been willing to live out. The latter part of August saw JKCS alumni, parent families and grandparents taking on a wide range of tasks in the school: Cleaning storage rooms, dusting shelves, tiling bathroom floors and gardening. Many volunteers spent labour day weekend helping out with an extensive outdoor clean up—rakes, shovels and brooms in tow.
“I did a quick list of all the volunteers I knew from the summer, and before I knew it I had a list of 75. All ages, all abilities,” recalls Piccolo. “We’ve had alumni. We’ve had grandparents. We’ve had parents lending whatever time they can.”
One volunteer in particular who stands out in Piccolo’s mind is Jack Joustra, a former JKCS parent and grandparent. “Jack has worked tirelessly” she says. “He’s been here every day. He’s been managing volunteers. He’s been dealing with everything that comes his way. We jokingly call him jack of all trades.”
Joustra appears in a number of photos on the school’s Facebook page, where updates about the building project are plenty. The online space has done a good job of conveying the community driven nature the reNEWal campaign and JKCS supporters have been quick to offer words of appreciation.
“As a new family starting this September, we are so grateful to the JKCS team of volunteers for working extra hard!” writes one visitor. “What a great community. We’re so excited to be a part of it soon!” she adds. The comment is one of many encouraging remarks beneath a photo of the school’s freshly coated gym floor.
“Great job everyone” writes another supporter. “Lots of hard work and commitment. JKCS is blessed to have you. All the students will be so happy and surprised!!”
Comments like these are likely to continue as phases two and three of the renewal project unfold. Renovations are still underway and others have not yet begun. “We want to be very cautious and stewardly and raise funds prior to beginning the subsequent phases,” explains Piccolo.
Although it’s been exciting to see the JKCS building become a more modern and functional facility, the road towards improvement has not been without its challenges. In the summer of 2013, the broader JKCS community was only just coming to terms with its plan to renew its existing facility, instead of building a new one.
In the March 2014 edition of the school’s Rooted in Faith campaign newsletter, Harry Fernhout reflects on a question that many JKCS supporters wrestled with together: Is the renewal of a tired facility a viable option? Fernhout, a parent of three JKCS alumni and a grandparent of five, responds with confidence, concluding that renewal is a goal worth pursuing, so long as “the bones are good”.
This year, those “good bones” will continue to serve a diverse educational community—one with a rich, shared history and a strong vision for 21st century learning. Staff, students and supporters (some who have walked with JKCS for decades) will move forward in faith, trusting that God will lead the school as it journeys towards renewal.
[gallery columns=”4” ids=”9735,9717,9733,9734”]