Students at Sarnia Christian School have returned to classes in a newly expanded facility.
Additions include an open-air atrium, new library, concert and assembly area, and a multi-purpose art room that lets students participate in art and science projects in a non-traditional classroom environment.
“We wanted more space for different types of learning,” said principal Len Smit. “We wanted to really highlight the arts, so we wanted a proper project room … where kids could get hands-on and get dirty basically.“
Mary Abma, who teaches Grade 8 and was instrumental in designing the curriculum, said the expansion was created with flexibility in mind.
“It allows for the new kind of pedagogy that we’re all embracing, which we’re calling 21st century learning.”
What the school’s 130 students did not get was more traditional classrooms
“We made some ‘cave spaces’ where kids can just go to be on their own, spaces where small groups of students can collaborate and create together,” Smit explained.
Money raised for the $1.5-million expansion shows community support is strong, he added.
“We were able to get the first million pretty quickly, and we realized then that we could make a go of this.”
A Sept. 10 open house and ribbon cutting were attended by Mayor Mike Bradley and members of council.
Tuition at the private school be as high as $14,000 per family, although that number can be reduced significantly with bursaries, grants, tax deductions and first-year discounts, said Smit, who noted the school doesn’t get money from the province.
“Schools like this in other provinces in Canada would receive funding. Ontario is one of those provinces that doesn’t think Christian education is worth funding.”
Sarnia Christian offers junior kindergarten to Grade 8 and accepts students regardless of faith affiliation.