God has his ways of speaking to us, urging us to our knees in prayer and stillness. The psalmist write in psalm 46, “Be still and know that I am God.” The 2012-2013 school year was such a moment of stillness for Northumberland Christian School. Pushed into a transition in leadership, the NCS community paused. We paused to listen to each other, to re-evaluate our own personal connections to the school, and to pray. And as the writer of Lamentations notes, the Lord’s compassions “are new every morning; great is your faithfulness!”
Already within that school year, in late spring, a renewal in the NCS community manifested itself in a revitalization of the physical school itself. Ginette Mack, a member of the NCS Administrative Team, said that she saw the renewal in the families, in “the hope and the willingness to invest…to be the best we can with what we have.”
The facilities committee and the Extreme School Makeover team, headed by Jackie Engelage, put together a campaign to give the school a lift. Students spearheaded a Canadian Tire Money Fundraiser, and alongside private donations raised several thousand dollars in funds. The greater Cobourg community such as Rotary’s Day of Caring, the Legion, Canadian Tire, and Home Building Centre worked alongside the makeover team to repaint and revitalize almost every square inch of the school.
The makeover kicked off with a work day in late May, tearing out the old library and computer lab and relocating both to a newly refurbished classroom. Over the course of the next few months, all classrooms but one and every hallway would be completely repainted and many refurbished. Jackie noted that there are still a few corners yet to look into, but the school shines with faithfulness. Over 20 individuals and at least 30 students personally spent time sanding, priming, painting or cleaning during the renovation. A recent grade 8 graduate put in over 70 hours of community service, focusing her talents on painting the names of novels in-between the stairs of a main staircase. Jackie said of the student volunteer, “She was there almost as often as I was!” Local artist and former NCS teacher, Alice Vander Vennen also added her touch to the school, leading the students in an art series to create elaborate fish to hang from the ceiling in the front entrance.
Students have responded with a new level of ownership in the way their school looks and functions. Leadership teams created to teach skills for older students have been set up in areas such as hospitality and office administration. Pride in the cleanliness of the school is so strong, students tidy and sweep even the mudroom, unasked.
The work at NCS continues. Funding for storage units and student cubbies is in process and Facilities Committee continues down a long list of improvements. And just as outward renewal continues, God continues to urge the school to prayer and community “God speaks the same message to very different people in different ways. In conversations, we realize we have had the same message on our own individual hearts.” says Ginette Mack. The psalmist wisely points to stillness, and in that stillness we find “The Lord Almighty goes with us.”