West Michigan Christian Schools Blog

Archive for Grand Haven Christian Schools

WMCS Says Goodbye to Two of the Fab Five Administrators

FCS’s John Barkel and GHC’s James Onderlinde Continue Their Christian Education Careers in GR

The end of the 2018-19 schools year brought a new beginning for two of our own.

John Barkel of Fremont Christian School will be starting as Head of School for Grand Rapids Christian Elementary School and James Onderlinde of Grand Haven Christian School will take on the new role of administrator for Byron Center Christian Elementary.

James Onderlinde's Family portrait

The Onderlinde family.

WMCS Collab Exec Director Dan DeKam and principal of Muskegon Christian School said this of his colleagues, “John is one of the great ones. His heart for his students was evident in how he genuinely delighted in his work. He will be missed and I wish him well on his new journey. Since 2014, James has tirelessly and virtuously led his staff, community, faculty. and students of GHC. His forward-thinking choice to launch Spanish Immersion marked GHC as the first and only school in the Tri-cities area to teach language immersion and it raised GHC’s enrollment exponentially. We’re grateful for his service and better for it. My fellow administrators, Samuel Greer (WMC), Phil Morse (NEC) and I will miss them both!”

John Barkel and his Family

The Barkel family.

We will all dearly miss John and James. Always moving forward, we are EXCITED to see how God will work these departures for the WMCS good—starting with the promotion of FCS’s own Nick Donkersloot, who is following in the footsteps of his own father and achieving a lifetime career goal with this new appointment. WMCS will announce the replacement for James once that has been determined.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28.

All of us at West Michigan Christian Schools wish many blessings to both John and James in their Kingdom work ahead. Please join us in saying a prayer for a smooth transition for each of these great men in their Christian education careers!

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West Michigan Christian Schools  (WMCS), is a collaborative system of five schools throughout the Lakeshore region, including Fremont Christian (PK-8), Grand Haven Christian (PK-8), Muskegon Christian (PK-6), New Era Christian (PK-8), and Western Michigan Christian (7-12). The WMCS system works under a “Better Together” philosophy, offering a top-quality PK-12 Christian Education experience and a full scope of academic and extracurricular programs.

Grand Haven Christian School Students Discover Purpose in Service Learning

A heart for Service: Many Hands Working Together Lightens the Load

“Educating minds and shaping hearts for service to God in His world” is the mission statement of Grand Haven Christian (GHC).

Creating multiple opportunities for our students to serve within our community, based on their spiritual gifts, is instilling an awareness of needs in our world and a desire to meet those needs.

Middle school student, Matthew Bradford-Royle, has been serving at Grand Pines Assisted Living based on his spiritual gifts inventory. Meeting with the residents has been helpful to them and has made an impact on their lives through the activities completed, but the transformation in Matthew’s heart has been the hope of all service experiences provided at GHC.

Middle school student talking with elderly woman in wheelchair at table.

Matthew Bradford-Royle talking with a guest at Grand Pines Assisted Living.

“What I enjoy most about service learning is meeting new people and helping elderly people with things they struggle with. I try and make it as fun as it can be. It brings me joy to help others just like Jesus would. I actually want to work there as soon as I can. I am trying to volunteer there in my free time over the summer for the experience of helping others and because I enjoy being there. I get to know the residents better and they can learn more about me. Through this service, it made me realize that even if we’re younger, we can make a big impact on others and the community,” explains Mathew, who is a 6th grader at GHC.

What I enjoy most about service learning is meeting new people and helping elderly people with things they struggle with. I try and make it as fun as it can be. It brings me joy to help others just like Jesus would. I actually want to work there as soon as I can. I am trying to volunteer there in my free time over the summer for the experience of helping others and because I enjoy being there. I get to know the residents better and they can learn more about me. Through this service, it made me realize that even if we’re younger, we can make a big impact on others and the community.

Seeing the difference our service can make in the community has been eye-opening for other students as well. Yasmin VanderHeide was part of a group that recently sorted food that was picked up from the recent USPS Food Drive at Love in Action. A group of students sorted food for an hour and a half, but as they were finishing up, someone did the math and figured out that it would’ve taken one person 14 hours to do what they did in less than 2. For Yasmin, seeing how many hands truly did make the work so much lighter in such a tangible way, prompted her to realize how their work is really making a difference.

As students at GHC, from as young as preschool through 8th grade, the service-learning experiences are creating transformation in the hearts and minds of our students to see how serving others is changing them, just as much as it is helping the people we serve.

 About GHC

Located in beautiful Grand Haven, Michigan, Grand Haven Christian School offers the most comprehensive Christian day school program in the area. Teaching from the Reformed perspective that emphasizes Jesus as Lord of all areas of life, we offer classes for students preschool through 8th-grade in all regular academic disciplines as well as physical education, band, choir, music, visual arts, computer technology, and introductory Spanish. Contact GHC today for more information! 

Grand Haven Christian School is a member of West Michigan Christian Schools  (WMCS),  a collaborative system of five schools throughout the Lakeshore region, including Western Michigan Christian (7-12), Fremont Christian (PK-8), Grand Haven Christian (PK-8), Muskegon Christian (PK-6) and New Era Christian (PK-8). The WMCS system works under a “Better Together” philosophy, offering a top-quality PK-12 Christian Education experience and a full scope of academic and extracurricular programs.

If you and your children are not already a part of the WMCS family, please prayerfully consider the PK-12 private Christian education of West Michigan Christian Schools for your children!

CONTACT US today for more information!

Grand Haven Christian School is a Safe Haven for Students

How One Family Found Refuge in GHC: A Heartfelt Testimony

GHC is able to boast about our excellent academic program, as evident by our test scores and the success of our students beyond their time at GHC, but we are so much more to our students and families. Shaping hearts is part of our mission statement and a focus for our teachers and staff. Our desire is to create an environment where students feel safe, loved, and cared for – knowing they are a wonderful creation and child of God. The academic successes will follow, but for students to know who they are and whose they are is of utmost importance. We had a family transfer to GHC for this very reason last year and found their daughter’s life transformed by her experiences here.

Read for yourself about how God worked through GHC to create a safe and loving school experience for the Orr family:

Upon completion of fourth grade in the public school system, it was inevitable that our daughter would soon further her education at the public intermediate school in the fall. Our daughter has always been a shy, introverted child with a large tender heart. During her year in second grade, she faced a great deal of bullying. It became so intense, that the principal concluded it would be best for our daughter and all students within the classroom to remove two of the students and place them in other classrooms. As you can imagine, this type of bullying created a great deal of anxiety, inability to focus, low self-esteem and a change in her academics. Fortunately, her third and fourth-grade teachers took her under their wings and rebuilt her academic and self-confidence. By the end of her fourth grade, she was ready to take on her new adventures in the fall within the public intermediate school.

By the fourth week in the intermediate school, the phone calls began, and our daughter was in the office physically sick on a regular basis and the tears didn’t stop.  As anticipated, we felt the transition period could be rough, but believed she would work through it. We instantly became more involved at school. Weekly/daily meetings began along with regular emails to her teachers and even flowers for the secretary who stayed with her whenever she was sick and did all she could to calm her.

Homeschooling became a consistent request, along with the plea of, “Please do not make me go back, PLEASE!” Her academics began to decline, she was becoming more introverted and depressed. We were very fortunate that she was always willing to talk and share her experiences with us. While we listened and continued to encourage her to stay positive and keep the faith, we stayed involved. Our gut told us this was not where we wanted her to stay, we quietly began researching other options. The more we researched, the more defeated and confused we became.

Enter, Grand Haven Christian. We had numerous friends who had children attend and graduate from GHC. While we felt somewhat familiar with the school, we gathered more information and planned for her to do a school visit. In preparation for this visit, we found a sense of peace knowing that during this day our faith in God would be shared by the very people she would call classmates. Our daughter did not know a soul at the time of her first visit. With all she had been through you can imagine how we felt leaving her at GHC for the day. We cried when we left her and cried, even more, when we picked her up! Why? Well, she jumped in the car with a smile and said, “This is it! This is where I belong, this is where I want to be!” A year and a half later still not one tear shed and she still has a smile nearly every morning and afternoon.

Academically, she spent only six months in 5th-grade and loved every minute of it. Sixth-grade started a little rough for us, partly because we were not familiar with the routine and things came quickly at us. Tessa seemed to be getting behind and we quickly asked to meet with one teacher to talk it through. To our amazement, we walked into a meeting room where nearly EVERY teacher was present! We were in total amazement, as each sat with their computers taking notes and sharing notes, they made it clear that our daughter and her academic success mattered to more people than just us! We were able to share some history. Suddenly, the things they were seeing made sense and their input helped us tremendously!! To this day, I feel they are there for her and our family as a whole. Academically, she is proud to be an Honor Roll student and is so thankful to have supportive teachers on her side!

When we started at GHC, there was one thing that disappointed her! There wasn’t an equestrian team. That was a dream of hers all through grade school, to be a part of a school equestrian team. We simply said, “If you want it, then we will have to figure it out! Let’s see what can be done to make it happen. Complaining about it will not change the situation.” She started 5th-grade in January by mid-March, GHC had an Equestrian team. With only six weeks to prepare for their first competition, the team placed 3rd overall. This year, however, they won the competition! They returned from the equestrian meet with the championship trophy, which is currently displayed in the GHC trophy case! The support of the school, the school board, teachers and students has meant the world to her!

three girls and one of a horse

Congratulations to the GHC Equestrian team in making MIE and school history by tying for first place this weekend in the Michigan Interscholastic Equestrian competition which was held in Ludington. The team was small but mighty led by Alaina Somers and Tessa Orr, with grooming help from Kaitlin Haight, and coached by Karen Orr. We are so proud of the hard work of all of these ladies and are proud of the way they represented GHC and all of WMCS!

Tessa has always refused taking part in other sports as she is so afraid of being made fun of, it was a huge surprise when she announced she was going to play basketball this year. What a joy it was to hear that her classmates encouraged her to join the team. Her agreeing to follow through and play through to the end is a huge testament as to her feelings about the school and her classmates. We guarantee you, she would not have ever entertained the idea for even a brief moment at her previous school. So thankful!

Tessa has a younger sister graduating from fourth grade, at a public school, in just a few weeks. She has a very large network of friends that will be moving onto the public Intermediate school. We’ve talked about the fact that her sister is a different child who’s had different life experiences, with a different network of friends. Do we pull her from her friends and the public school system or do we give it a second try? Well, simply said by the 9-year-old, “Mom, Dad here’s the deal, I can call those friends at any time. I will make new friends at GHC. I want to go to school and start my day with prayer. I want to learn more about God. I want to be happy every day and I want to feel ‘safe’ like Tessa said when she started at GHC,”  She continued with, “I sure don’t want all of the craziness; I just want a good education!” Well, please look for Brylie at GHC this fall!

We truly feel GHC saved Tessa in many ways. She knows now she can feel safe at school. She can have a voice, be heard and not be made fun of or judged. She can be a part of the team and even create her own. It’s o.k. to laugh out loud while getting an education. It’s truly o.k. to believe in yourself and, in others. She’s always known, but now believes that “It’s okay to cast away your cares upon Jesus, for He cares for you!”

 About GHC

Located in beautiful Grand Haven, Michigan, Grand Haven Christian School offers the most comprehensive Christian day school program in the area. Teaching from the Reformed perspective that emphasizes Jesus as Lord of all areas of life, we offer classes for students preschool through 8th-grade in all regular academic disciplines as well as physical education, band, choir, music, visual arts, computer technology, and introductory Spanish. Contact GHC today for more information! 

Grand Haven Christian School is a member of West Michigan Christian Schools  (WMCS),  a collaborative system of five schools throughout the Lakeshore region, including Western Michigan Christian (7-12), Fremont Christian (PK-8), Grand Haven Christian (PK-8), Muskegon Christian (PK-6) and New Era Christian (PK-8). The WMCS system works under a “Better Together” philosophy, offering a top-quality PK-12 Christian Education experience and a full scope of academic and extracurricular programs.

If you and your children are not already a part of the WMCS family, please prayerfully consider the PK-12 private Christian education of West Michigan Christian Schools for your children!

CONTACT US today for more information!