News

Rehoboth Christian School has fresh new high school space after renovations and addition project

By Jennifer Vandermeer, Norwich Gazette/IngersollTimes

The north gym at Rehoboth Christian was packed with parents and supporters for the performances of the school's first Grade 9 music class. Lead by secondary school principal Gerrit TenHove, the youth performed during a Celebration of Learning and new addition open house Monday, May 14 to give visitors a look at the renovations that have been going on at the school over the last few months and projects and activities their children have been taking part in.

The north gym at Rehoboth Christian was packed with parents and supporters for the performances of the school's first Grade 9 music class. Lead by secondary school principal Gerrit TenHove, the youth performed during a Celebration of Learning and new addition open house Monday, May 14 to give visitors a look at the renovations that have been going on at the school over the last few months and projects and activities their children have been taking part in.

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A recent 16,800 square foot addition and renovations to an existing 4,900 square feet of space are expected to meet the needs of students and staff at Rehoboth Christian School for some time.

“Basically, what we have is a new high school,” said Director of School Operations John Heikoop.

Funded entirely by tuition and donations, the changes in the Grade 9 through 12 section of the building include eight new classrooms, renovations to three existing classrooms, space for staff, a teaching kitchen, science/art lab, computer lab and a lounge space for students.

Gerrit TenHove, secondary school principal, said student comments about the addition were that it was bright and cheerful and they couldn’t wait to move in.

“The kids have been enjoying it,” said TenHove. “They’ve been hanging out in the new lobby. The lobby has been a big hit.”

This addition brings into the main building students who were attending classes in portable classrooms located behind the school. Heikoop said five of the seven portables will be able to be removed at the end of this school year.

The school community and supporters were able to get a look at the work that was recently completed when they attended a Celebration of Learning and open house earlier in May. Heikoop said the project was well received by the community at that time.

More people than expected attended the special event organized for families of students in the intermediate and secondary levels. But that turnout mirrors the growth over the years of the number of students enrolled at Rehoboth Christian School (RCS).

When the school was opened in September 1975, it was designed for about 175 students. Forty years later, the 2014/15 school year saw 809 students enrolled. Today that number is 839, with large classes moving through Grades 7 and 9 and several classes of most grade levels. In fact, Heikoop said this Grade 9 class is the largest ever.

“We do project our enrollment in Kindergarten to Grade 12 to exceed 900 students as the students are moving through,” he said.

Currently the school has been graduating about 55 students from Grade 12 into the local workforce and some to post secondary school. Heikoop said projections are that there will be 75 graduates in the next few years.

As the student and staff population has grown over the years, the school has seen various additions in order to accommodate the increased numbers. There was a new building addition in 2008 that included a new front office and classrooms; and the technical shop was built in 2015 for the automotive and carpentry classes.

The increase in enrollment has also made it necessary to redesign the school’s governance and leadership. Where Heikoop was once the principal operating the school with three vice principals, he is now director of school operations, with an elementary principal and secondary principal and vice principals.

“We really operate three schools in one building,” said Heikoop, explaining that much planning goes into making sure the three schools don’t cross over during the day. The intermediate and senior schools share the library, all three share the office hub, but they use field space at different times, and take their breaks at different times. Over the summer, some redecorating in the elementary and intermediate areas will take place to tie all the areas together, and give them a fresh look.

Now that students and staff are settled in to their new surroundings, Heikoop was able to take a moment to reflect on the work of the past several months.

“This should do us for the next few years,” he said, recognizing that the entire project would not have come to fruition without the strong support of the church, its families and the community.

“I really feel grateful. I’m humbled that the school is being supported in the way it is,” said Heikoop.

“I’m humbled the community has provided the support it has for Christian education… that they value it to the point that they do.”