Getting the Ball Rolling
This artist’s concept drawing, originally published on the front cover of the Christian School Herald in July 1958, shows Calvin Christian School on West 5th Street, Hamilton, with and the ambitious proposed addition to house the future Hamilton District Christian High.
At the time, HDCH consisted of fewer than twenty students in grades 9 and 10, meeting in a church basement with two teachers. The point of this graphic was to provoke discussion, to make the support community think of the future. The attached commentary says (in Dutch)
This drawing may be overly ambitious. If you worry that it is an over-reach, please let us assure you that it is not a definitive plan. But while we plan for our future high schools, it is good to have concrete thoughts in mind. Perhaps this sketch will generate ideas for planning. Will this be the future…?”
A high school wing for CCS was, in the end, never seriously considered; but a freestanding campus on Athens Street became reality within three years.
There was a lot of discussion at the time about the merits of Christian secondary education. In the same issue of CSH fifty-one years ago, columnist Dick Farenhorst lamented that HDCH offered only grades 9 and 10, and encouraged the board to consider adding grades 11 and 12. That program expansion was still under consideration and senior high school not a sure thing.
Ontario’s only Christian high school
Hamilton District Christian High was Ontario’s only Christian high school at the time, and our story was being followed across the province. In May 1958, the board resolved that rather than trying to recruit students from the whole province, communities should be encouraged to set up their own high schools. Shortly after, groups formed in Toronto and London, followed soon after by Bowmanville, St. Catharines, Chatham, Sarnia, and Ottawa.
Momentum was underway
These were just a few of the decisions made at many meetings by very busy but determined people. The investment of time, energy, and money to get the ball rolling for Christian education in Ontario are mind-boggling. A support base was cajoled and built, sermons were preached, prayers were raised, plans were unfurled, money was raised, drives occurred, teachers were hired, bricks were laid. The ball got rolling, the momentum was underway.
Now, half a century later, many of the key pioneers have passed on to be with the Lord. We live with the fruit of their inspired and impassioned decisions. Their desire to integrate faith and learning live on in us.
This article originally appeared in Connections magazine, 2009
Featured Photo~ Pioneers: At this HDCH membership meeting in November 1957, thee were at least four times as many members as there were students in the school. People attended from Toronto, the Niagara Peninsula, and south-central Ontario at First Hamilton CRC on Charlton Street. Photo by Boschler Studios for Christian School Herald.