A total of 225 students are registered to attend Cambridge Christian School (CCS) this fall. Enrollment wise, that’s a “bit of a boom” says Scott Beda, Principal.
Beda is thankful for the increase in enrollment and looks forward to integrating the new families into CCS’s tight-knit community. “There’s a lot of neat stuff going on,” he notes. The school’s ‘Eagle’s Nest’ preschool program will enter its third year in September, and conversations about restarting an after school care program have become more frequent. Academically, there have been good things happening too. Last year was the first year that piano, vocal and violin lessons were offered to students. Going forward, Beda would like to see that tutoring program expand—so that drum and guitar lessons could become an option, too.
Although he’s eager to see new students flourish at CCS, Beda recognizes that difficult circumstances surround the influx of new children set to attend the school next fall. Fourteen of the families registered to enroll come from Temple Baptist Academy, a Christian school in Cambridge that recently closed down.
“We know that our joy is also a moment of hardship for Temple Academy,” says Beda. “We know that there are students who are saying goodbye to teachers and friends that they love.”
Staff will need to bear that in mind next year as they welcome these new students into the school. Creating an inclusive atmosphere will be crucial, Beda points out, particularly in the older grades where friendships have already been cemented and being the new kid can be difficult. “We’re trying to process, right now, that we’re going to have quite a number of students coming from a different school, with a different culture. And so we have to ask: how will we make them feel very welcome? How can we help them to become incorporated into our community and culture?”.
Ensuring that new parents don’t “get lost in the shuffle” will also be key. If the school is serious about meaningful integration, it will have to go well beyond an annual kick off barbecue, says Beda. He has plans to organize monthly coffee socials—where parents can ask questions and stay informed. And, the school will continue its practice of connecting new families to ambassador families, who have been members of the CCS community for a longer period of time.
Engaging with a new school’s culture is a challenging leap for most parents, but those who choose Christian education are making sound investment, notes Rhonda Kalverda, Advancement Coordinator at CCS. It’s a sentiment that stems from her own experiences. Kalverda received a Christian elementary education and took much of what she learned with her as she went on to attend public high school. Confidence in her identity as a Christian was strengthened during those early years. “Eleven years can make such a big impact on a person’s life,” she says.
That attitude underscores much of the work she does to promote CCS—those efforts have involved revamping the school’s website, redoing the new family package, and organizing professional, well run open houses.
“When you’re doing advancement work, you’re sowing so many seeds and you don’t always know which ones are going to take root,” says Beda. Some of the work that Rhonda did in the October of 2012, didn’t bear fruit until the Spring of 2014, he reflects. “There’s probably moments when you’re working at these kind of jobs where it feels like it’s taking forever, but we have really observed the idea that you plant and you wait, and that it’s the Lord who makes things grow”.