Schools seek to advance Christian message, identify with community
Several Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) member schools are participating in community Santa parades again this year, identifying several reasons for doing so, including advancing the Christian message of the season.
Guelph Community Christian School (GCCS) entered a float in the Guelph Santa parade for the fourth year recently.
Principal Bob Moore says the school leadership made the decision to participate despite the fact that Santa Claus is considered to be a “pagan icon by many conservative Christians.”
|Guelph Community Christian’s nativity scene|
“We saw it as an opportunity to put Christ back in Christmas, so we usually include (the phrase) ‘Jesus is the reason for the season,’ on one of our banners,” says Moore, noting the music accompanying the float includes mostly Christian carols.
The school leadership also sees taking part in the event “as an opportunity to identify with our neighbours in Guelph while still remaining distinctly Christian.”
Moore adds he believes GCCS has been successful in realizing both these objectives as there is usually some sort of positive response from the watching crowd about the Christian focus. He has also heard people have become more aware of the school as a result of seeing the GCCS float in the parade.
“So it does build a bridge for the school, and open the door for our current parents to talk to potential parents,” says Moore, also noting that many of the conservative school supporters who were initially unsure of the parade have since come on board.
A side benefit to the event is the community-building opportunity it provides as school families gather first to design and build the float, and then join together in participating in the parade.
Ottawa Christian School (OCS) is another OACS school that has joined in a Christmas parade in Barrhaven for the past four years.
This year, OCS music director Kitty Fournier led 25 students in singing for about 90 minutes throughout the event.
The OCS float included a nativity scene, and the school sign was carried by several students while others distributed candy canes attached with a message about the school’s move to the Barrhaven community in September, 2010.
Kindergarten teacher Shirley Buisman, who took the lead on this event with help from Pauline Naftel, an OCS parent, and 15 OCS families, said a key goal for participating in the parade this year was to let the Barrhaven community know that OCS is moving to the area soon, according to a press release.
Director of communications Virginia Dawson, agrees, adding the intention in taking part in the parade is to demonstrate OCS does not just want to exist within the community but also to “play an active role in it.”