Saturday, February 6, 2016

Director of Finance & Development Announced

Justin Zylstra
SHEBOYGAN, WI – The Board of Trustees of Sheboygan Christian School and Sheboygan County Christian High School is pleased to announce, that Mr. Justin Zylstra has been appointed as the Director of Finance and Development for the newly merged school. Zylstra previously served ten years as the corporate secretary/treasurer with Jos. Schmitt and Sons Construction Co., Inc. in Sheboygan. He attended Dordt College in Sioux Center, IA, and comes with an extensive background in accounting as well as customer relations and human resources. He also has served as treasurer of both Oostburg Christian School and Sheboygan County Christian High School.

In November, the associations of Sheboygan Christian School and Sheboygan County Christian High School voted to merge the two schools to become a new Pre K -12 school system. 

Zylstra will begin his service to the school on February 15.

Ron Van Der Pol
Director of Marketing & Admissions

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Promoting a Spirit-Inviting Classroom Atmosphere

By Ron Van Der Pol
(Excerpt from Integration of Faith and Learning in Christian School Art Education, Master’s thesis by Ron Van Der Pol, 2006)

Like so many educators, I have goals for my students and the program and curriculum that I work to build.  But like so many educators, challenges and frustrations may stand in the way of attaining those goals.  Staying true to the biblical philosophy of my art program can sometimes be difficult for both me, and my students. 
As the leader of my classroom, I need to be aware of how the classroom atmosphere is affecting the work of the students.  For example, there are times in the art classroom when a sense of pride can develop.  It is not all bad for an artist to take pride in their work, as long as that pride is more of an excitement for praising God through their talents and glorifying him through their work.  A more dangerous form of pride can creep into the classroom atmosphere when the focus is on the individual artist and when the center of attention is placed on the individual's abilities and talents.   Along with selfish pride, frustration can be a major hindrance to an appropriate classroom atmosphere.  It is so easy to get "full of ourselves" as Christian artists.  I can speak personally to the problem of allowing a string of successes in the art classroom (either through my teaching or the results of my students work) blur my focus away from who gave us the abilities to succeed in the first place.  There are times throughout the school year when pride or even competition can show themselves and allow weaknesses to be exposed.  In times like these, I try to bring things back into the proper perspective.  Jesus stated, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" 2 Cor. 2:9 (New International Version).  Art instructors and students need to recognize themselves as sinful and in need of God's grace.  We need to respond by laying our weaknesses before him.  Bringing our weaknesses, errors, and lack of humility to God through prayer is an essential part of training Christian artists.  "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express" Rom. 8:26 (New International Version). The more teachers and students are united in prayer and in the Spirit and work through a process under a biblical philosophy, the more students will understand what a biblical worldview in art is.  They will also be able to see how powerful a tool art can be in not only the classroom, but in God’s kingdom as well.

Young Christian artists can many times feel fragile in terms of how others perceive them or their work.  Because of this, these students may feel inadequate or could become frustrated in the art classroom.  I have encountered many of these types of atmosphere downers over the years and have worked to try to establish methods to combat this. 

One of the most practical ways that I have found and used to help establish an uplifting and God-glorifying classroom atmosphere is the use of a word equation that helps remind us all of what makes our classroom an inviting place for the Holy Spirit.  Robert Chewning (2001) suggests the following "cooperation equation" when working toward ways for appropriate response by Christians to God and his Spirit:  “God’s work + human response = ‘to God be the Glory’ progress and victory” (Chewning, 2001, p. 4).  It is so important for the Christian art instructor and Christian artists to keep each other accountable toward the goal of responding to God appropriately through our work by remembering that everything is to be to God's glory.  In times of frustration I am not afraid as an instructor to stop class, even in the middle of production, and ask the students to put their work aside and join me in discussing as a group what is causing frustration at that particular point.  After identifying the frustration and how it is challenging our goal of an appropriate classroom atmosphere, I then ask for the students to join me in a time of prayer.  I encourage students to offer prayers of admission and forgiveness as well as prayers, which include goals for improvement.
If I as the leader of my classroom allow the atmosphere to become one that is not in line with what God requires, I am not holding my students accountable.  Likewise, if my students notice that I am not working towards, or willing to promote a classroom atmosphere that is conducive to effective and God-glorifying work, then I ask and EXPECT my students to hold me accountable because ultimately God will.  "Not many of you therefore should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly" Js. 3:1 (New International Version).  The following is a list of suggestions for promoting a classroom atmosphere that invites the presence of God and his Holy Spirit.

The Christian art teacher:
1. recognizes every young Christian artist as an image-bearer of their Creator.
2. establishes the truth of God's Word as the standard for what we do in the classroom.
3. promotes humility of self and the class as a whole.
4. invites young Christian artists to be available to the Spirit's leading.
5. fosters a sense of camaraderie as we all are working together toward common goals.
6. demands accountability between the instructor, students, and God.
7. identifies challenges and frustrations which can pose a threat to conducive learning.
8. utilizes prayer as a means of inviting the Holy Spirit as well as combating threats to that invitation.

Prayer is a vital component to the process of teaching art.  I must continually keep my students in my personal prayers throughout the school year.  In turn, there are times when I will lay a burden before the students and ask them to pray for me, especially if that burden pertains to an anxiety in the classroom.  The more we are united in prayer and in the Spirit, and work through a process under a biblical philosophy, the more students will understand what a biblical worldview in art is. They will also be able to see how powerful a tool art can be in not only the classroom, but in God’s kingdom as well.

These are a few examples of how I as a Christian art instructor can bring my philosophy into classroom practice.  Integrating my philosophy can be more obvious in some projects and very subtle in others.  My duty is to relate and make real to the students what we are doing in the classroom on a daily basis. 

To God be the Glory!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Discovery Term 2016

We are so excited to again offer a week for our students at Sheboygan County Christian High School to go on a journey of discovery.  This week will be an opportunity for everyone to perhaps discover a new talent in readers’ theater, music or public speaking, perhaps uncover the mathematics behind aeronautics or become the mad scientist in the science lab, or take the opportunity to develop a Biblical worldview in regards to media, discover a sense of direction for their God-given vocation, or have a greater awareness of hospitality, service, ministry and mission.  Our goal is that each student will walk away expanding their appreciation for knowledge and the learning process.

Again, the faculty, staff and community members have dedicated themselves to developing this week of on-campus and off-campus classes or trips to be a time of discovery - the act of finding or learning something for the first time.  This term will engage students in a one-week learning experience allowing them to choose two sessions [one in the morning and one in the afternoon] focusing on a variety of topics.

Learning outside of the normal academic day through this unique week of discovery enlarges a student’s awareness of the vastness of knowledge in God’s world and expands their desire to learn.  In this way, SCCHS is advancing its mission of preparing students to be effective servants of Christ in contemporary society.  “God has given each of you [us] a gift from his variety of spiritual gifts.  Use them well to serve one another” I Peter 4:10.

The brochure and additional information is available on the SCCHS website.  Please feel free to refer any question to the Discovery Term committee: Myron Bolkema, Tricia Meyer, Rhonda Anderson and Sue Hendrikse.  Their planning and hard work have brought together a greatly anticipated week.  

Be prepared for your student to discover something new!

Rhonda Anderson

7 Bridges Mission Trip to Atlanta, Georgia - Mr. Chris Hendrikse

Students will be traveling to Atlanta Georgia to serve alongside 7 Bridges Church, a rescue team that reaches out to our brothers and sisters. We will help break the binds of homelessness, alcohol, abuse, and other addictions.

Service & Learning in Santo Domingo - Mission Trip to the Dominican Republic - Mr. Juan Engels
From December 29th to January 7th our Spanish 4 students will be serving in Santo Domingo, the oldest Spanish settlement in the New World. This service & learning mission trip will give the students a first-hand view and understanding of the missionary task and life.

Coffee, Art, and Faith - Mr. Ron VanDerPol
In this "coffeehouse meets creating art" course, the students and I, over coffee and fellowship, will discuss, study, and create art, dealing with different aspects of the Christian faith. We will use several art mediums to create our art. The art will be prominently displayed at the end of the week. Questions such as, “What does it mean to be a Christian artist?” and, “What is the relationship between faith and art?” will be discussed. We will discuss what it means to be called and what are the prime tasks of an artist: to listen, to remain aware, and to respond to creation through one's own art.

5,333,900 - Mr. Kevin Gesch
5,333,900  What is 5,333,900?  How many is 5,333,900?  These numbers mean nothing to most of us.  How’s this: a one pound bag of Skittles has, on average, 400 skittles. 5,333,900 equals 13,334.75 one pound bags of Skittles. Or, alternatively, an eight ounce can of sweet peas has, approximately, 267 individual peas. That’s equal to 19,997 cans.Now turn each skittle or early June pea into a person.  In a little over 12 years, from 1933-1945, 5,333,900 Jews were put to death, most of them, amazingly in a bit over three years.  Also, the number 5,333,900 doesn’t include a possibly equal number of non-Jews who died over those same 12 years.

In this part of the Discovery Term we’ll study and experience the motivations, perpetrators, and victims of the atrocity known as The Holocaust. We’ll read, view and dig into the lives of individuals who lived through The Holocaust, on both sides of these horrible events. We’ll also see to what extent our world has learned anything from spending the last 70 studying it.

Water, Water, Everywhere - Mr. John Andringa
This will be a hands-on, lab based inquiry into water, water systems, and aquatic habitats.  Participants will collect and test samples of water, and will construct a thriving aquatic habitat.  This experience is directed toward those who have not or will not have the opportunity to take Environmental Science or are simply interested in diving deeper into water science.

Careers - Mrs. Joyce Smies
Submitting a resume and completing an application will be one of the first steps in securing a job. In this class students will learn how to compile a resume to give a prospective employer an accurate picture of what they have to offer. Interviewing skills will also be developed and practiced. Students will also have the opportunity to hear first-hand advice from professionals in the Human Resource field.

Once Upon a Time… Readers’ Theater - Mrs. Kris Hancock
Students in “Once Upon a Time Readers’ Theater” workshops will create and practice readers' theater scripts to perform in area nursing homes. Students will spend two sessions (half days) developing and practicing scripts. They then will spend three sessions visiting area retirement homes, where they will perform scripts and encourage seniors to participate in performances with them. It will be a wonderful opportunity to thank grandmas and grandpas for all the times they read “Once upon a time….” to them.

Physical Fitness is Fun! - Mr. Jim Cowdy
With the heart of winter at our door, the importance of physical fitness and exercise is essential.  Students in this session will be able to participate in a variety of games and activities that will bring about fun and team building.  

Worship Leadership and Planning - Mr. Zack Flipse
History, tradition, and formative faith documents shape our liturgy today. Not only will we find our place in the history of worship, but we will discuss tools and techniques to equip and prepare worship leaders. Liturgists, song leaders, chapel planners, tech operators and more are welcome!

Job Shadow - Mrs. Rhonda Anderson
Student will have the opportunity to set up a ½ day shadowing experience.  This experience will help give direction to juniors or seniors as to what career they should pursue.  Each student will find the shadow placement(s) and submit a form with contact person and phone number before Christmas break.  To qualify for this class, juniors and seniors must have their own transportation.

Leadership, Faith & Culture - Pastor Drew Zylstra
As Christians, we are called to be bold leaders in the world.  In order to be faithful to the call, we must understand how to engage culture responsibly –building bridges and establishing common ground while at the same time maintaining our distinctiveness as
followers of Jesus.

Computer Programming for Dummies - Mr. Ron De Master
What makes all these electronic devices that we own work? It’s programming! In this class we will be introduced to basic programming concepts.  You do not have to have any previous background. This will be a hands on class where you have a chance to create your own short programs.

Forensics - Mrs. Tricia Meyer
Spend your afternoons building your confidence in your speaking and acting skills.  We will begin each day working together as a group in various drama activities, but the majority of the time will be spent working on individual or group performance pieces in anticipation of competing in weekend Forensics tournaments.  

Ceramic Clay Exploration - Mrs. Lorri Brown
Understand and explore a variety of techniques using ceramic clay as 3-dimensional art.
Design and then create a unique mug, cup, or vase that will be glazed, kiln-fired, and taken home. 
Artist and teacher Lorri Brown has taught 2-D and 3-D art classes at both Sheboygan Christian School and Cornerstone Christian Academy.  She has taught several home-school groups and currently teaches private art lessons. 

Music in Worship- From Cathedrals to Chapels - Mr. Ron De Master
What kind of music do you hear in your church? What practices are truly God glorifying? Throughout the history of the church, music has always been a part of worship. What things have changed throughout the years and what has never changed? In this class we will listen to music of the past and of today to see how God is worshiped in music. We will draw some conclusions and principles for worship music of today.

Job Shadow - Mrs. Rhonda Anderson
Student will have the opportunity to set up a ½ day shadowing experience.  This experience will help give direction to juniors or seniors as to what career they should pursue.  Each student will find the shadow placement(s) and submit a form with contact person and phone number before Christmas break.  To qualify for this class, juniors and seniors must have their own transportation.

Movies as Literature - Pastor Richard Anderson
Every story has a purpose.  Stories use techniques meant to impact its audience and so to film is a medium with its own techniques.  Just as literature teaches, so does a great movie.  Participants will learn to understand the elements of good story-telling, identify and respond to messages and develop the ability to critique stories.  Learning to critique movies develops the ability to reflect on underlying messages and analyze them from a Christian point of view.

Woodworking - Mr. Jim Fieldhouse
Students in this class will be instructed in the safe use of woodworking hand and power equipment to construct and fabricate woodworking projects.  Students will also be taught proper planning, layout and construction techniques used in the woodworking industry.  Students will have the opportunity to complete a project in the Discovery Term.

The Wonders of Flight - Mr. Myron Bolkema

In this course, students will learn the basics of flight-how and why planes fly.  Then we will be creating a variety of flying aircraft, attempting to use what we have learned to create planes that fly well and for long distances.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Social Networking and Friendships

The following thoughts are written by Oostburg Christian School 8th Grade student and future Eagle, Sierra Van Der Pol

Like, like, like, like. Scrolling through your feed, you see what people are doing everyday.  You see a picture of your friend in a selfie with you and instantly feel a boost of self confidence. You were in that picture. Insta-happiness. But, the next day you see that person. The person that was always fake and inconsiderate to you in a picture with your BFF. Social networking friendships. They can be good and bad. There are many positive aspects of having friends on social networking with you. You can post selfies with “The Squad” so everyone can see how much fun you’re having. I tend usually not to do that because I find it aggravating when people have to post something at all times to show how popular they are. DM-ing (direct messaging) gives you the opportunity to have a chat or a group chat with all your friends. 

Social networking can be loads of fun, but it also can be hurtful.  Seeing some of your close friends being invited somewhere with someone else without you can be very damaging to your selfie esteem (pun intended). Cyber bullying can also take place online. I read a story about an Instagram account dedicated to the intentional tearing down of a girl who had done nothing to the bullies. The account was even called “[girl’s name]shoulddie” or something to that extent. I enjoy social networking with friends, but I prefer hanging out in person. As a result, you can build better face to face social skills and have a pretty good time without anyone having to know about your #bestdayever.  

Online friendships are good, but real life ones will definitely impact your life in a more positive way.

Monday, December 7, 2015


by Kevin Gesch
“[Jesus] came to a winter barnyard’s muck and filth…”

Jesus still comes
To things as they are,
Not to wished-for rearrangements of the facts.”

I am ambivalent about the whole Christmas thing.  Too much is going on to even consider a silent night or peace anywhere.  I suppose that’s what gets my family ticked.  They love the hubbub, while I crave a bevy of stille nachts.  I’ll pay for that comment later.

Christmas also brings out the worst in me.  I love stuff. I love giving and getting stuff.  Though some may beg to differ, I think I’m getting better at not lusting after things – except land, property, of my own.  But that’s another story.

Christmas also revitalizes a grudge I bear against a nephew who had the unmitigated gall to be born on Christmas Eve, thereby ruining my chances at my first red fox.  That’s also another story.

It’s a long story.

Don’t ask.

Christmas, however, ends up being much more than just an annoyance to me.  Christmas tugs me into some dark and ugly corners.  Foremost among them would include the whispers of stories I first heard as a child.  I don’t know at what age I first heard of a death on Christmas Eve, and not the death of T. S. Eliot’s Magi either.  This was a local, personal death.

Our church has the time-out-of-mind tradition of Christmas Eve services, not Christmas Day.  No, I don’t know why, that’s just the way it has always been. It is a convenient (and thereby unique) tradition, freeing up many folk to visit family and gorge themselves on other traditions which occur on Christmas Day.  Our Christmas Day involved going to my aunt’s upstairs flat.  She hosted that whole side of the family, or the portion not mad at the other portion for some obscure reason.  These celebrations included angel food candy, beer, bad sheepshead, raw beef (an unholy agglomeration of raw ground beef and spices - really), Uncle Augie’s marginal singing, Uncle Marty’s war stories, beer and Uncle Herman’s gravely laughter - and beer.  But Christmas Day isn’t the point.  Christmas Eve is.

In the fog of my youth, the Christmas Eve whispers swirled, almost unheard or unnoticed, like early morning lake mist.  Years ago, a minister had died.  By his own hand.  He was known to be a quiet man, given to solo strolls around the small village.  He had killed himself on Christmas Eve.  The church had to be told.  That was the basic information I gathered, at first.  Small towns guard these stories, breathing life into them throughout the generations – while not actually talking about them.  Maybe the big city does the same.  I wouldn’t know.  I wasn’t raised there.

Christmas Eve also involved a man named Calvin and his wife.  It took me a few years to realize that Calvin wasn’t the focus of the stories – though the story of his first wife dying because she was given the wrong blood type sure caught my attention.  The real story concerned the wife.  She appears, in my memory, to be rather talkative, vivacious, leaning into the conversations, drawing even a young boy into the eddy of activity which surrounded her.  The nexus of the story wasn’t Calvin’s or “Joseph’s” line, it was the “Mary” side or the visitors to our house.  So THIS was the woman whose husband had killed himself on Christmas Eve.  I began connecting the dots.

Years later I added another layer to my burdensome Christmas memories.  Our Christian school’s former principal, then living a rather wanton and reckless life, had missed the school’s Christmas program.  Of all the unforgivable sins, of all the stupid mistakes, a principal missing his own school’s Christmas program?  Grampas and Grammas have killed for less.  Confusion.  Low chatter.  A gym full of rumors. Another teacher stepping up, took control and the program happened more or less as planned.  A different teacher was dispatched to the house – fearing what might be found.  The principal’s wife had left him a note, mentioning, by the way, she had just left him for another man.  Another Christmas to remember.

The small town Minister was eventually located by his wife – she had cut him down, then quickly called the two men who could be most counted upon – my father and grandfather.  They arrived and carried body, the Reverend’s body, the Reverend, down from the attic.  Another pallid dusting of gray draped over Christmas.

What ought I to make of these things?  I’m always trying to “make” things out of events; to see them; to grasp them; to increase my store of experiences upon which to erect a Solomonic tower of wisdom.  It isn’t working that well.
A person I never met has helped me most make sense of these disparate, desperate events.  Elva McAllister wrote a poem to which I was introduced by my brother.  The poem contains the lines:

“[Jesus] came to a winter barnyard’s muck and filth…”

Jesus still comes
To things as they are,
Not to wished-for rearrangements of the facts.”

No matter how the facts get clouded or massaged or spun, the truth is that Christmas is about Christ coming  to hard, steel-sharp, glinting facts; Christ coming to a woman lowering the body of her noose-dead husband.  Christmas is about Christ coming to two men performing duties that should never be imagined, much less carried out.  Christmas is about Christ coming to a deserted husband, a loyal husband crushed and speechless, unable to face a crowd of chipper celebrants at a grade school event.  These are diamond-hard facts.  No amount of discussion or dissembling can change these people-lived truths.

The good news, the “what can I make of these events” is that Christ came, and still comes -especially to these awful, horrific places.

In my world, Christ doesn’t most clearly come to a gilt-Hilton or a cozy Bed and Breakfast, though I suppose he certainly could.  He came to an attic with a swinging rope; he crawled through death and filth and to bring healing and cleansing.
That’s what Christmas is.
Praise God that Christ still comes.
Kevin Gesch - 2010