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Community Responds to Open Doors at Jordan Christian School

Written on February 22nd, 2016

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It was anything but a typical, quiet Saturday morning at Jordan Christian School in Jordan Station recently—the doors were open, and over 300 students, teachers, parents, and community members were welcomed into the building. The Open House focused on creating an opportunity for members of the community who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to come into the school, to enjoy the celebrations of the day, and build relationships with others.

The day began with a Classical Storybook Breakfast, where community members were given the chance to enjoy a hot breakfast and to mingle with students and teachers from the school. To the delight of many young people, costumed characters Winnie the Pooh, the Berenstain Bears, and The Cat in the Hat also made an appearance.

Immediately following the breakfast, everyone assembled in the main foyer of the building to celebrate the main event of the morning—the unveiling of the placement of the original date stone of Jordan Station Public School, which had been without a permanent home since 1982.

The date stone was originally placed above the main entrance of Jordan Station Public School, which was built in 1886. When the school closed in 1982, the stone was removed and donated to the Jordan Historical Museum of the Twenty. The building was purchased that same year by Jordan Christian School (JCS), and in 2009, members of the school’s marketing committee requested to borrow the stone to display in the school for their 25th Anniversary celebrations. Since then, the committee members put in a request to display the stone in their building permanently.

Their request was granted, and on Saturday, January 30, 2016, the stone was given a place of distinction in the front foyer of Jordan Christian School (JCS). The date stone acts as a greeting to those who walk in the front doors of the school, resting in the northern-most point of what used to be the outside wall of the original public school building.

“We decided to place the date stone on the interior brick wall joining the old building with the new addition because this is a high traffic area in the school and well-lit with natural light, giving the stone great visibility,” described Billie Jo Wagenaar, a member of the Marketing Committee at JCS. “Furthermore, this indoor display ensures that the stone will be protected from the elements and preserved for many more years.”

Although badly weathered over the last years, the inscription in the centre stone is still legible. It reads Garson & Purser above the date and Builders below it. The date of the original building (1886) is still clearly visible.

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The placement of the stone was also instrumental in marking a place of transition. “The stone that is being unveiled is a piece of history,” shared JCS principal Mark Fintelman. “History has been preserved from the old [Jordan Station Public School], and is now being welcomed into the new—a reminder to us of where we’ve come from, and where we are headed.”

The stone was set in place by Calvin Overbeeke, a former graduate of Jordan Christian School who donated his time to complete the project. It was significant that one of the school’s own graduates was the one to create a place for the date stone. Calvin participated in a masonry co-op placement through the school a few years ago, and now runs his own masonry business. “It just adds another piece of history to the story,” commented Calvin’s former principal Mr. Fintelman. “It’s neat to see stories like this come full circle.”

Presentations were made at the ceremony by Mr. Fintelman and by Lincoln mayor Sandra Easton. Mr. Fintelman briefly shared the history of the date stone, and reflected on the fact that it was an honor to be able to give it a permanent place to be displayed in the school.

“We, at Jordan Christian School, are happy to be able to carry on a tradition of education—raising fine children and directing them how to be the next citizens of Canada, involving them in things that are happening here in our own community and beyond.”

Mayor Sandra Easton also addressed the community, sharing her appreciation for the wonderful things happening in the school. She stressed that schools are in important piece in our communities, and echoed the importance of giving students an opportunity to learn what it means to be responsible citizens in a community.

“I love what you [leaders and teachers of Jordan Christian School] are doing here. When I look around, I see students who are going to be the future citizens of Lincoln. It’s important for us as community to foster a relationship with these [students] because they are the future.”

The mayor also shared with the students that her husband had attended the original Jordan Station Public School when he was younger, and that everything about his early childhood revolved around this school and the community around it. “In fact,” she laughed, “he still refers to Jordan Station as ‘the centre of the universe’.”

After both Mr. Fintelman and Ms. Easton removed the veil, everyone was invited to stay and join students as they participated in storybook activities in their classrooms.

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“I loved giving the characters high fives,” share Sophia, a student in grade two. “I even gave momma bear a kiss!”

The morning games were also a favorite. Grade two student Bethany especially liked going on a treasure hunt for Brother Bear’s birthday.

Joshua, who attends senior kindergarten at the school thought that having his family at school was a highlight.  “I liked it that my family could come,” he smiled.

Community involvement was the focal point of the celebrations, and Mr. Fintelman was thrilled at the number of people that came out to celebrate the occasion with them. He estimates that over half of the people in attendance were community members who wouldn’t normally be coming into the school building.

“In the last year and a half, we’ve been intentional about looking at who we are as a school. We want to open our doors to the community and let folks know who we are; get them into the school, walking around and visiting classrooms and interacting with us.”

Mr. Fintelman expects that this will be the first of many more events that will be geared towards creating relationships and partnerships with others in the Lincoln community and beyond. “This was an exciting morning for us,” he exclaimed. I’m looking forward to continuing to build opportunities that let people know that we’re here.”