Walking through the front doors at HDCH last night for their Celebration of Learning could be compared to walking through the doors of the wardrobe into Narnia – the land of wonderful, unexpected sights and sounds to be explored and admired. Their selected theme of Narnia seemed a fitting choice for their evening of celebration. I had the privilege of being a part of this experience as a volunteer, a parent, and an employee of the OACS.
As a volunteer, I’ve been in and out of the school building over the last couple of days helping set up décor for the evening. This offered me the opportunity to observe students and teachers as they prepared to display their work: setting up tables in the hallway, hanging artwork on the walls, measuring, cutting, gluing, arranging, and fussing to make sure that visitors would have the best view of their finished products. There was an excited, nervous buzz in the hallways as students put finishing touches on display boards, websites, robotic cars, art pieces, and more, in anticipation of the celebration evening. I was struck by the amount of behind-the-scenes work involved in preparation for the evening, and by the commitment of students to finishing and displaying quality work.
As a parent, I’m also aware of how much time and effort students are putting into the work that is shown at a Celebration of Learning, not only in school but also at home. Projects displayed are intended to give parents, teachers, and community members a look at the culminating products of what they have learned throughout the semester. Students have been generating solutions to questions raised in class, drafting plans, revising, implementing skills learned, and adding personal touches to products that not only display what was learned, but also the process of the learning. This is by no means an easy task!
Driving questions like: “How does an artist preserve their memories?” draw students into the process of researching artists and their techniques, formulating opinions and critiques, and eventually entering the process of preserving their own memory on canvas.
“What is Newton’s Law of Motion?” has students learning laws of Physics, and then taking that information and using it to create their own rocket car and displaying it along with the steps of construction and revision, inviting spectators to join in their process of learning.
“How are websites built?” propels students to learn not only how to put together a website of their own, mastering necessary computer skills, but to discover what things are personally important for them to share, and how to creatively and effectively share these on a website of their own to demonstrate to others.
Of course, I also wear the hat of “OACS employee”, and as such I am keenly interested in the display of high quality student work in every room and hallway of the school. The Celebration of Learning is a beautiful display of the very mission of HDCH; to foster student mastery of the knowledge and skills in the classroom, but to take these skills and discover the ways in which the learning shapes the character of a student, and to incorporate their learning into the creation of meaningful student work that can be shared in service to their community.
It was a privilege to have the opportunity as a parent, but also as a community member and supporter of Christian Education, to be included in the passionate and playful learning process of students.