Math is for the Birds!

Searching for an idea that would meet the many expectations of the grade 5/6 geometry unit, Rick Dykstra and Ben Stapper came up with a plan for students to design and build nest boxes (bird houses) for local species of birds.

Before starting their designs however, students were asked to respond to the challenge, “How can we serve, and bring joy to others?” After some discussion, the class decided to donate their completed nest boxes to their pen-pals at the Orchard View Living Retirement Centre (relationships with these pen-pals had already been established as a result of Miss Granville’s Language Arts class).

Firstly, students began researching birds that are native to this area, examining habitats and nesting requirements for each type, and they chose a bird type for which to build a nest box. Next, using what they had learned about geometry, students designed their nest boxes by first making rough 3D concept sketches, followed by initial 2D scaled construction drawings of each piece of the nest box, using at least four geometric shapes as part of their structure. Students needed to understand how to take and transcribe measurements, and calculate surface area and volume. Students also had to take photos of their progress, keep a journal of each step taken, send updates to their Orchard View pen‑pal and create a final scale drawing that someone else could use to build their own nest box.

“Creating a 3D concept drawing was difficult for some students,” said Mr. Dykstra, “and identifying all the parts needed so as to estimate the amount of wood to order was another challenge. I began to realize students needed an in-between step before actually constructing their wooden nest box, so we had them build a prototype out of ¼” foam board. This way they could test to see if their designs were workable.”

On the day of construction, the gym was full of wood and tools. Under the guidance of two parents and two grandparents, each student confidently measured twice and cut once until all the pieces could eventually be glued and fastened together to form their finished product.

Once all the nest boxes were complete, students painted them in Mrs. Bergsma’s art class. On Grand-friends day, students shared their project with the guests, explaining the process, drawings and prototype, and displayed the finished product. The nest boxes will be set up at Orchard View Living Centre by the end of the school year. CCS students are pleased to know that local birds will soon have some wonderful new homes!

Designing and building these nest boxes for math class is a great example of project-based learning, giving our students a practical lesson on how to apply mathematics to a real-life situation.

Many thanks to The WoodSource in Manotick for donating all the wood required for the nest boxes, and for allowing the grade 5/6 class into their business for a tour. A thank you is also due to Ben Stapper, Hub Stapper, Bob Proper, and Harry Rylaarsdam for working with the students to cut out all the pieces of wood needed to assemble their boxes.

By Marie Cooper

CCS Teacher Nominated for Award

What does it mean to be an excellent teacher? Most of us think in terms of academic outcomes. In the world of Christian schools, we instinctively know there is more to it than just student performance. An excellent teacher also fosters student character, engages the school community and improves school culture.

Community Christian School is very pleased to announce that Mary Ruth Downs was nominated for the John Rozema Excellence in Elementary Teaching Award. At a ceremony in Burlington on June 9, Mary Ruth was recognized as one of four finalists for this prestigious award.  While Mary Ruth did not win the award, anyone who has spent time in her classroom knows how creative and intentional she is in her approach to teaching young children. Mary Ruth is respected as a leader in Kindergarten instruction who frequently presents professional development workshops and actively mentors new teachers. She is the Junior and Senior Kindergarten teacher as well as Curriculum Coordinator at Community Christian School.

We congratulate Mary Ruth Downs on her well-deserved recognition and are delighted and honoured to have her as a member of our staff. 

The John Rozema Teaching Excellence Awards are presented by Cardus ( in partnership with the Christian School Foundation ( and are designed to encourage a robust excellence in Ontario's independent Christian schools. The three categories -- Group Excellence Award, Excellence in Elementary Teaching Award and Excellence in Secondary Teaching Award -- recognize excellence as an ongoing investment into the life of a Christian school community and a positive public contribution to the common good.  Being shortlisted for a John Rozema Teaching Excellence Award is an indication of an educator's reputation for giftedness and excellent practice.

“As a parent whose four children have each spent two years in her JK/SK classroom, I believe Mary Ruth demonstrates the purpose, rigour and service in education which the Rozema Award recognizes,” says Jacob Zwiers, Chair of the Community Christian School Board of Directors. “Mary Ruth speaks passionately about the freedom a Christian school provides her to approach all subjects from the knowledge that God is our ever-present Father and we live as agents of restoration and justice in His world.”

“Being a teacher in a Christian school is an incredible blessing, but also a huge responsibility,” says Downs. “I am sometimes called Mom, a constant reminder that I am often in the role of parent in a Kindergarten classroom. However, the most sobering day was the day a student accidentally called me Jesus. I was honoured and terrified at the same time. It reminds me of a story of a little boy who is drawing. His mother asks him what he is drawing and he tells her he is drawing a picture of God. His mother gently says ‘But honey, no one knows what God looks like.’ To which he replies, ‘Well, they will after I am done.’ I am delighted to work in a school where we partner with parents and with the church to help reveal the face of God to our children.”

You can read the Cardus News Release here.

CCS - Our Story

Randomly choose a dozen parents and ask them how they have been blessed by Community Christian School and chances are you will get twelve completely different answers.  We know this to be true because we posed that question, and two others, to all the parents and past-parents who attended Café Ignite on January 27.  One of our goals that evening was to have participants help us write our CCS story: what are we all about and why are we here? 
Some parents wrote about our dedicated Christian teachers. Others highlighted our small classes and the feeling like we are all family. Still others mentioned strong academics, classes taught from a Biblical perspective, and Christian friends for their children. Many parents, many good responses to our questions. None of these things on their own can really describe our CCS story fully, but collectively they begin to paint a beautiful picture of how community, Christian, and school weave together.

When you read a sample of things written by CCS parents at Café Ignite (see below), I hope you are uplifted. As our school, and indeed many Christian schools in Ontario, deals with declining enrollment, changing demographics, fluctuating levels of community support, and a wide array of parental expectations, we need to adopt a full understanding that there is no area of life that does not fall under Christ’s sovereignty. May we be encouraged to realize that what goes on at CCS is very different from what is happening in secular schools. Our classroom lessons, our student-teacher relationships, our parent-teacher relationships, our field trips, our music and sports events, our volunteer tasks and our school culture all point to God the creator and the Lordship of Christ in everything we do. CCS provides opportunities for students to grow in faith, knowledge, service, leadership, and compassion. We strive to create a safe place, where students feel they belong, where they have friends, where their teachers care about them, and where they can be themselves. Parents’ comments testify that we are doing many things right. 

In this, our 35th anniversary year, may God continue to grant us grace and wisdom as we work together to create a school where all of us – parents, school members, and children – are looking at the world through the lens of scripture.

How have you been blessed by CCS?

  • “By the willingness of the teachers to work with us to help us understand our children’s needs.”
  • “Watching my shy child come into his own.”
  •  “By witnessing the obvious changes in our children after switching them to CCS from another school.”
  • “We have been blessed to see our child’s love for God and knowledge of God deepened and strengthened.”
  • “Our child has learned sound interactive/social skills in a supportive environment.”
  • “As parents, we have made great friends among the community and have been inspired by the faith, talent and dedication of the teaching team.”
  • “Our children have benefitted from Godly Christian examples in both staff and volunteers. They have been prayed for regularly by teachers who long to see them reach their full potential; academically, spiritually and socially. They have received opportunities to develop talents in areas such as sports and music. We are very thankful for our time at CCS!”
  • “Watching our oldest child start grade 9, confident that she has the educational foundation and character to thrive in high school.”
  • “We cannot thank CCS enough for being the hands and feet of Jesus.”
  • “We are blessed because our children come home from school happy!”
  • “All our children credit CCS for giving them the foundation to succeed at the secondary and post-secondary level. All three are now educators themselves.”
  • “Three children who love the Lord; three children who were taught how to pray; three children who have wonderful memories of teachers who shared their stories of faith with them.” 


Kindergarten's Penguin Cams

This year’s Kindergarten Penguin unit took a different turn – a remote-control turn. Our class learned that scientists sometimes use ‘penguin cams’ to learn more about penguins in their natural environment. The scientists build a camera that looks like the species of penguin they are studying, and use the remote-control ‘penguin cam’ to observe the penguins without the effects of any human presence. The emergent curriculum became known as Penguin Cams.

The students started by learning about different species of penguins. They then drew pictures of the species they chose to study. With feedback from their classmates, they completed several drafts. Next, they created a 3-D model from their final draft. Disguising a remote-control truck as a moving iceberg, we attached an iPhone holder to the top of the ‘iceberg.’ Using the iPhone, we recorded what our Penguin Cam observed. We were even able to watch the live footage on our classroom Apple TV.

Standing Strong - Letting God

Recently, the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) conducted an in-depth review of all facets of Community Christian School (CCS) at the request of the CCS Board of Directors.  The OACS is our umbrella organization, and CCS is one of their member schools. Along with providing member schools with curriculum, legal advice, financial services, assistance with employee relations and so much more, the OACS exists to promote and support Christian schools. Specifically, their mission is to help Christian schools become dynamic communities of learning.
The first stage of our comprehensive audit, which OACS called a Landscape Review, was to send out a survey to parents, teachers, staff, Board Members, past parents and even some alumni. Survey response was excellent, providing the reviewers with good insight into school community attitudes and thoughts about our school.  
The second stage of the Landscape Review was the on-site visit by three members of the OACS review team. This team spent time in our classrooms observing our teachers in action, assessed classroom content, layout and functionality, reviewed our curriculum, met face to face with our Principal, staff, parents, and Board Members, reviewed our finances and financial practices, reviewed our policies and procedures and assessed our front office and administrative practices.
While those of us who are familiar with CCS know it is a great school, it has been encouraging to know that outside reviewers agreed. Below is a list of some of the findings they included in their final report:

  • The Christian character of CCS is an incredible strength of identity. The school is a place of Christian insight, prayer and engagement.
  • The sense of Christian community, both historically as well as presently, remains strong. People care for each other at CCS.
  • The school’s educational program remains strong. It is appreciated by the parents and the days the team spent in the school touring classrooms verified the strength of the program.
  • The teachers are incredibly dedicated and united in their tasks. It is clearly evident in the creativity displayed in classroom instruction as well as the co-curricular programs in place. It was obvious that the teachers are devoted, unified and function as a cohesive and caring staff.
  • The school association (non-parent members) has shown strong financial support for the school. The generosity of the supporting community was evidenced through the Foundations Campaign and has been historically evident through the fundraising activities of the school.
  • The dedication of CCS volunteers is amazing. Many make conscious decisions to support CCS over other volunteer opportunities.

Upon reading the OACS Landscape Review Final Report, Jacob Zwiers, current Chair of the CCS Board of Directors said, “We have been reminded that there are many things to celebrate about our school and what takes place on a daily basis.  Our prayer is that the content of this report and subsequent actions we take as a community will be a celebration of God’s faithfulness, praise for His continued blessing, and an acknowledgement that we can move forward in confidence because of our calling His name.”

Online Safety: A Parent Perspective

Wednesday April 13

7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

In today’s digital age, on-line safety is a critical issue. Topics will include Digital Citizenship, Privacy & Ethics. Our special guest speaker is Todd Kaldeway, who currently serves as the Information Technology Administrator at Quinte Christian High School in Belleville, Ontario. Todd is thankful to God for the opportunity to work in K-12 Christian schools for the last 20 years offering guidance and discernment in the use of computer technology.

For more information, call 613-821-3669 or email us here.

Ready, Set, Kindergarten!

April 5, 12, 19 and 26

9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

This year's Ready, Set, Kindergarten program is now full, however, if you are thinking of enrolling your child in our Junior Kindergarten program at CCS this fall, please email our Admissions Coordinator to arrange for you and your child to visit our Kindergarten classroom and meet our Kindergarten teacher another time!

This Kindergarten preparation program, held each Wednesday morning in April, is designed to introduce children to school in a positive and fun way. Mrs. Downs will pack a lot of fun into the morning using the theme "Super Heroes in Training". Along with the fun, children will get to experience many of the elements of school life. They will:

  • Hear Bible stories about "Super Hero" characteristics that God can develop in us (e.g. bravery, kindness, etc.)
  • Play with and learn the letters in their name
  • Work with numbers 
  • Develop fine motor skills like cutting, printing, and colouring
  • Have fun with activities in the gym
  • Bring and enjoy a snack from home
  • Have their own cubby to hang their coat and backpack in

This program is designed for all children turning 4 this calendar year. Your child can participate in Ready, Set, Kindergarten even if you do not have plans to enrol your child in our school this fall. Cost is $75.  If you would like a registration form, please email our Admissions Coordinator.

Registration Form

Teacher Spotlight

This school year, our theme has been Seize the Day! Our scripture is Colossians 3:23  "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for man."  We can see this scripture come to life through our teachers. They model this passage to our students daily throughout all of their teachings and activities. Our teachers do devotions and pray together each morning. Our smaller class sizes allow our teachers to have one-on-one time with each student, allowing them to get to know each and every child at CCS.

We would like to regularly spotlight our teachers.  This time we will highlight our grade 1/2 teacher, Mrs. Hopkins.  Mrs. Hopkins attended both Mount Allison University (B.Mus) and Queens University (B. Ed).  

Mrs. Hopkins

Why teach in a Christian School?

To be free to teach each child about the everlasting love of God, and to encourage each child to grow into the person God designed them to be.

Describe your all-time favourite lesson/unit activity:

Any author studies – Jan Brett, Phoebe Gilman, Eric Carle, Kit Pearson…. any!  These studies can be integrated with all subjects across the curriculum.  I love books, especially children’s picture books with beautiful illustrations!

Teaching MotTo:

Know each student, show each student, grow each student.

If I wasn’t a teacher I would ...

Be sad. I love teaching!

What are three things every teacher should own?

1. Stickers  2. Papermate flare marker/pens  3. A dog

Is there anything else you would like to spotlight about yourself?

I was involved in Dog Rescue up North.  My dog is one of the rescues I couldn’t let go!  I’ve run 2 half marathons. I love beading moccasins, a skill I learned from a very talented Cree Native.

Open House Wednesdays

Since some of our Open Houses in February were cancelled due to inclement weather, we are extending the Open Houses into March.

Come in and see our school in action! Sit in on classes, meet our teachers, and participate in chapel. Ask us about our New Graduated Tuition structure.

Open House Wednesdays (8:20 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) in March will be on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, March 2
  • Wednesday, March 9

For more information, email: or call 613-821-3669

Smartboard & Motivation

Parts of a sample Nest-Box

Parts of a sample Nest-Box

We are called to serve others and creation, to work hard in all we do, and to bring joy through our beautiful work. How will building a nest box (birdhouse) for native (local) birds serve others and creation, and bring joy through our beautiful work? This is a driving question grade 5 and 6 students are exploring with their geometry project.

Students are designing and building a nest-box for a native bird and will be giving it to a special person in their lives. With this project, students are praying that they will bring joy to someone as a result of their effort. Some considerations student need to discover are safety, durability, attractiveness (from a bird's perspective!), size, shape, material, and costs. Scale drawings and construction are also learnable goals.

What does this have to do with the Smartboard? Students are eager to use the Smartboard during learning activities. The images displayed are results of some students' thinking process for the parts of sample 3D shapes. In Geometry we call it "drawing a Net". All students were eager to share their version of a Net using the Smartboard.

Students eager to share their thinking? That's a wonderful blessing! 

Cookie Walk


At Community Christian School we take the meaning behind "Love your neighbour" seriously. Just before Christmas every year, our senior students prepare plates of homemade cookies and squares and distribute them to families living in the neighbourhood surrounding our school. Students have fun knocking on doors, giving baking away and wishing people a Merry Christmas. Taking acts of service outside the classroom is an important component of our programming at CCS and teaches our children to reach out and engage in the world around them.

A Christmas Story


Come join us as our students tell the Christmas story through narrative, choral singing, instrumental presentations, and Black Light Theatre.

  • 7:00 p.m., December 17, 2015
  • Community Christian School
  • 2681 Glen St. Metcalfe
  • Free-will offering

Choral includes solos and duets, Instrumental includes whole band, small ensembles and hand bells. Students have been practicing their skills and are eager to present their efforts to the community. Everyone welcome - see you there!

Mistakes as Growth Opportunities


Students are learning about how God masterfully created our brain to work. In our elementary classes and in our chapels, students are learning about neuroplasticity (like Plasticine) and what happens in the brain when we learn something new (creating a path between neurons). Why? We believe that if students understand God’s design of their brain, that they will make the connections to how they need to learn.

In the Community Christian School (CCS) environment, the focus is on developing a mindset of growth from a Godly perspective, which vastly impacts the capacity to learn and the results a child will experience. It begins with teaching elementary students that they each possess the potential to be his or her best for what God created them to be, no matter what, and to provide them with the support they need to be successful. At CCS, this translates into an environment where each child is taught to:

  • apply rigorous effort aimed towards excellence;
  • gain confidence in their learning; and
  • embrace mistakes as growth opportunities.

Highlights of chapel lessons this year include encouraging students to think about what they have, rather than what they do not have, how PlayDoh and Chocolate Chip Cookies came about as results of mistakes, how mistakes are an important part of the learning process, how FAIL translates to First Attempt In Learning, how video games can demonstrate to us how we learn, and that to be mistaken is not a sin. “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.” (Thomas Edison)

John Maxwell, in his book Sometimes You Win – Sometimes You Learn, reminds us that “life is difficult … [yet] everyone who got where they are, started where they were”. At CCS we desire for each child to work hard with the gifts that God has given them, to become more fully who God intended them to be, and to grow more fully each day in who they already are. 

Does Standardized Testing Still Matter?

Measuring Individual Learning and Academic Growth Still Valuable in Elementary School

Standardized testing has its share of critics and critiques—and the resulting negative rap hasn’t been entirely unfair, either. As an example, different test designs and ways of administering tests are themselves based on subjective decisions. It’s probably also no surprise that a standardized test doesn’t measure some important components of what makes education meaningful—particularly in a Christian school environment: things like creativity, persistence, self-discipline, leadership, reliability, and integrity. 

Despite the hesitation to give too much weight to the value of standardized testing, such tests widely remain a popular measure of student achievement, as they arguably still provide the most fair and objective learning assessment, thereby helping to ensure classrooms and schools remain accountable to their stakeholders. 

To this end, Community Christian School has for many years conducted bi-annual testing, called the Canadian Test of Basic Skills (CTBS), to assess student learning, get a picture of each student’s strengths and weaknesses, and also obtain a good picture of how CCS measures up as far as providing a robust, challenging educational program. 

This year, however, in conjunction with the support and leadership of the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools, CCS has chosen to pilot a newer—more modern—assessment tool called Measures of Academic Progress (MAP). Administered in an online format—each student takes his or her own test individually at a computer—each assessment adapts to the learning level of the student as the test progresses, thereby assessing not only achievement, but providing key information on next learning steps. Each test also covers a range of disciplines in the areas of mathematics, reading and language. 

MAP is carried out three times over the course of a school year, as a way to continually assess each student’s learning readiness, growth, and achievement, as well as be able to compare this data both across the classroom, and against national norms.  What is particularly valuable, and what CCS is excited to engage with, is the wide range of informative and comparative data that MAP reports provide: All testing results are available to teachers within 24 hours of testing, allowing their classroom instruction, as well as any individual instruction, to be informed using reliable, up-to-date data. Furthermore, every student’s growth is measured, regardless of grade level performance, with the ability for goals to be set, based on results, to ensure learning continues to move forward.

As CCS conducts the MAP testing two more times over the course of this school year (the first, or baseline, assessment session took place in early October), staff will be working together to learn how to best use all the rich data in a way that reinforces best teaching practices that resonate with each student’s learning style, with the ultimate goal being to foster overall learning success.

– T. Allard, CCS Learning Resource Specialist

Over 1,000 Apple Pies & Crisps Made!

With gratitude to many loving hands from volunteers, both young and old, CCS was able to make over 800 Apple Pies and over 200 Apple Crisps during our two-day fundraising event! Praise God! 

Many have already been sold, but there are still pies and crips available. Call 613-821-3669 to place your orders! 

Plain or Cheese Crust Apple Pie ................... $9.00

Apple Crisp .......................................................... $8.00

School Closed October 28-30


Teachers will be away for further training October 28–30. Because of this, CCS will be closed on those days.  Our academic curriculum complements the guidelines of the Ontario Ministry of Education while reflecting the mission and vision of the school. We aim to have our teachers remain current and as up-to-date as possible so that CCS can continue to promote high academic achievement. 

Parent-Teacher Learning Conferences Oct 19

Parent-Teacher Learning Conferences provide a great opportunity to learn about your child's progress, and are an important step in creating positive home/school communication. Our Parent-Teacher Learning Conferences are just around the corner and will be held on Monday, October 19. More details will be posted soon!

New Website and Domain Name!

Our new website and domain name was launched on Saturday, October 10, 2015!  Our new branding for this school year is an attempt to grab attention, increase search engine standings, and generate more traffic to our website. Take a tour through our beautiful new site and let us know what you think!