Vision is to be a more active presence in the community
Stratford and District Christian School is aiming to bless family and friends as well as a group in the community with a Christmas program this season.
Every December classes devote time to preparing for a Christmas-themed event, which is presented at the school.
In recent years the program has also been taken to a retirement residence in Stratford to be performed for the seniors.
“It’s a great opportunity to bless them,” says principal Dave Straatsma.
The event is one of the school’s more intensive activities geared to being an active part of the community.
Students also participate annually in several other events organized by community groups to support certain causes and help those in need. A few include the Terry Fox run to raise funds for cancer research as well as a food drive to collect canned goods for the needy.
This month families can donate hats and mittens to be hung on a Christmas tree at the school. Later the items will be given to the local food bank.
In the spring the school will be participating in the Relay for Life, an overnight walking event to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society.
Straatsma says his vision for the school is to be “very much a presence in the community” through activities like those mentioned.
He adds that the school has a larger resource base in terms of benevolence through its many parents than some community groups might.
“I feel we have more to offer than we do sometimes,” he says.
For the past 60 years or so the Christian education movement in Ontario has been good in that Christian schools have largely come to be established as “viable institutions,” Straatsma says. However, they can also often be seen as isolationist.
Straatsma applauds the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) for encouraging member schools to become more involved in their community through the Good Neighbour Campaign.
While Stratford and District Christian School did not officially participate in the campaign, it has embraced the thinking around the importance of being more community-minded with school themes and activities.
Straatsma says he hopes the OACS will continue to encourage schools to be a visible presence in their communities even though the political impetus is no longer relevant.
“I think the opportunities we have to really give to the community are very important,” he says. “It’s what makes us different.”
It also shows the community that Christian schools do care as well as help raise awareness for promotional purposes, he says.