Monday, August 17, 2020

CCS Currently Submitted Plan for School Reopening in the Fall (and FAQ)

 In compliance with our MDE, CCS is pleased to present our submitted plan for reopening in the fall. Over 70% or school families responded in an on-line survey and 92 parents attended our outdoor forum to discuss the plan on Thursday, August 13. The board approved the plan in their specially called meeting for that purpose on Monday, August 17, and the plan was submitted within hours of that meeting.We'd like to thank all of our families for their supportive and deferential honoring of the mutually shared goals of this plan. 


Back2School Protocols & Reopening Plan

2020-2021 School Year

Unanimously approved by the School Board of Calvary Christian Schools,

Fruitport, MI on August 17, 2020.

CCS is a K-12 school with thirteen class cohorts* averaging 15 students. The intention of this plan is to keep cohort groups intact throughout the day, and to limit cross-traffic between cohort groups as much as possible.

*A cohort is an age-group/grade-level that remains together as a unit for the entire or nearly entire day. Unlike larger schools, at CCS the single grade/single cohort is true for all grades, K-12.

SCHOOL DAY PROTOCOLS:

DROP OFF: Cross-traffic between grade cohorts*, and parking lot congestion during peak traffic times, will be mitigated by the following updated parent “drop off and pick up” plan (see diagram):

  • Preschool and Kindergarten parents will enter the west driveway at the Calvary Christian Schools sign (marked entrance A). The kindergarten classroom is in its same location, and Preschool has been relocated to the classroom next to kindergarten. Both classes will be accessed directly from their exterior entrances. Students will be dropped off directly outside their classrooms. Parents wearing facial coverings may accompany their students into the building.

    • If you are planning to walk your preschool and/or kindergarten student to the door, and have older children, we recommend that you use entrance B, drop those children off at their appropriate doors, then circle counterclockwise and make Preschool/Kindergarten your last drop off stop.

  • Elementary parents will enter the east driveway that does not have the Calvary sign (marked entrance B). They will follow the drive to the back parking lot by the playground. Students will enter the building at the end of the new elementary C-Wing (door #15) via the sidewalk closest to the playground. Parents will complete the loop and exit out the farthest east drive to the B entrance/exit.

  • Middle School/High School parents will enter the property using the B driveway and proceed to the far (east) gym entrance near the many handicapped parking spots (door #3) to drop off their students, then complete the near loop, and exit out the middle drive to the B entrance/exit.

  • Student Drivers will enter the school property using the A entrance. Students will then make an immediate left and park in the lot nearest Kendra Road. Student drivers and their riders will enter the building through the end hallway door (#26) connected to the new MS/HS D-Wing hallway.

  • Parent-driven cars with multiple students that include MS or HS students will enter the property using the B driveway and proceed to the far gym entrance near the many handicapped parking spots (door #3) to drop off their MS/HS students, proceed to the back of the building to drop off their elementary students, then complete the loop counterclockwise via the farthest drive of the parking lot, and proceed to the B entrance/exit.

  • The rear rotunda doors will be reserved for special circumstances, like the dismissal of a sick student, while the front rotunda doors will remain our visitor entrance.

  • Visitors will park their vehicles in the front parking lot (nearest the building) and enter at the Rotunda (door #1).

  • Teachers will park their vehicles in the front parking lot (nearest the building) and enter at either Rotunda #1 or Front Foyer #2.


MAINTAINING COHORTS*:

  • CCS will carefully manage enrollment for 2020-2021 to allow social distancing within cohort-size classroom spaces. Even if the average cohort grew to 18, there would be under 250 students within our 70,000 square feet of indoor educational space.

  • Students will remain with their cohorts for lunch in their classrooms or in outdoor venues, weather permitting.

DAILY TOUCHLESS TEMPERATURE CHECKS: Students will enter their classrooms with masks on, remain masked while the teacher takes their temperature with a touchless thermometer, and records (but does not announce) the temperature.

  • Temperatures of >100.4: Students will remain masked and go directly to the sick bay (see below). The teacher will notify the office, who will contact the parents to pick up their student

  • Temperatures of 100.0-100.4: The student will remain masked in the classroom and the teacher will recheck his or her temperature within the class period. If the student’s temperature remains elevated, the student will proceed to the sick bay.


PHYSICAL DISTANCING:

  • In the context of individual cohorts, physical distancing will be an important deterrent to viral spread, as will frequent use of outdoor education venues.

  • Band and choir classes have been relocated to accommodate generous physical distancing requirements unique to those activities and class sizes.

  • The senior class homeroom has been relocated to accommodate generous physical distancing requirements unique to their class sizes.

  • Physical distancing protocols (especially to whatever extent such distance reduces the potential need for masks) will be followed whenever possible. Disinfecting and hygiene protocols shall follow any deviations from those protocols.

FACIAL COVERINGS:

  • Masks are required to enter the building, and will be worn in all indoor common areas and individual cohort settings where physical distancing is not possible.

  • Exceptions will be made during snack time, lunch, and scheduled breaks, or if a waiver (see below) is provided by a licensed health professional, counselor, or occupational therapist.

  • CCS will provide disposable masks (50 cents) for students who do not have one on their person. All masks should have the student’s name on them.

  • Homemade cloth masks must be part of a supply that allows for laundering after each day’s use.

  • MASK WAIVERS:

    • As per the MI Safe Schools Michigan’s 2020-21 Return to School Roadmap*, CCS will accept without prejudice any notes provided by a student’s licensed health professional, counselor, occupational therapist, etc., regarding the wearing of masks. No stigma or unprofessional discussion will be allowed regarding exemption from mask wearing under such circumstances.

    • Likewise, discretion will be extended to students/parents who may request proximity precaution regarding students who cannot wear PPE.

FREQUENT DISINFECTING:

  • Teachers will disinfect work spaces and equipment between each change of cohorts.

  • Other common areas, such as playground and recess equipment, will be disinfected between changes of cohorts.

  • Common areas such as hallways and bathrooms will be disinfected multiple times during the day.

MODERN HVAC: Our HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system will be programmed for maximum fresh air intake as per local Health Department recommendations.

NEW ROOM ASSIGNMENTS:

  • To reduce cross-traffic between cohort groups, entirely new room assignments have been made, assigning elementary classes to the smaller C-Wing, and middle/high school classes to the longer D-Wing. Locker assignments will keep student cohorts in their new wings and as close to their classrooms as possible.

  • Because it is considered a “common area,” the library was moved to room A-100 in the rotunda.

  • The computer lab was dismantled, and the desk-top computers distributed among all classrooms for student use. Computer classes will be conducted with Chromebook laptops (which are kept on a cart) in cohort classrooms. There will also be personally assigned Chromebooks - currently backordered - for the high school.

  • The first two classrooms on the right of the D-Wing are exclusively Kindergarten and Preschool, with a new sidewalk for direct outside access from the front sidewalk. Pending school board approval, 12 x 24’ gazebo over the new sidewalk will be added for protection from the elements.


MOVEMENT WITHIN THE BUILDING:

Inside the building, masks must be worn in all common areas shared by multiple cohorts. (This remains true even if individuals are alone in that common area.)

  • HYGIENE: Frequent personal hygiene/hand washing shall be taught and practiced at all grade levels. Hand sanitizer stations will be posted at each room entrance for use when entering and exiting rooms. Personal hand sanitizer will be kept in student desks (K-5) and in personal carry items for grades 6-12.

  • RESTROOMS:

    • When possible, HS students will be encouraged to use the large restrooms in the “flag foyer” outside the gym, decreasing traffic in the D-wing restrooms.

    • C-wing restrooms will be reserved exclusively for elementary students all day.

    • Exclusive-use times for preschool-kindergarten will be scheduled while the D-Wing hall is unoccupied.

  • LIMITING LOCKER TIME:

    • Students will not linger in hallways before class in the morning or throughout the day. Plans are in place to limit the necessity for locker access, therefore limiting extended close contact in hallways. Additionally, masks will be worn at all times in hallways.

    • Middle/high school students may hang their coats on foyer racks, band instruments, athletic gear, art materials, etc. may be shelved as directed in proper places. Locker time must be brief as students quickly gather materials and proceed directly to their first hour classroom.

OUTDOOR VENUES:

Daily routines have been designed to maximize the advantages of small cohorts, ample indoor space, and beautiful outdoor spaces.

  • TABLES: Ten steel 8’ picnic tables (matching three we have) will be in the two pavilions at the rear (west end) of the rotunda courtyard. Five will be in shaded areas around the building. Twelve lighter-weight 6’ picnic tables will be placed inside the D-wing pavilions (six in each).

  • PAVILIONS: Two 20 x20 outdoor education pavilions will be available in the rear courtyard, and two for use of MS and HS near D-wing. While these are snow-load bearing structures, they are not permanent structures, and can be repurposed post-Covid.

  • OUTDOOR PE will be recommended whenever possible.

  • During school hours, only single cohorts will use the playground or outdoor equipment at one time.

PICK UP AND PARKING

Pick up for all students is similar to the above traffic flow with one exception: parents picking up only students in grades 1-5, may do so at the Front Foyer #2 vestibule. (This is so a teacher can be on duty at that location and because the rear lot has “soccer” traffic after school.)


As always, to ensure efficient traffic flow, parents who must exit their vehicles are asked to please use designated parking spaces and not leave vehicles unattended in drop-off/pick-up lines.

RELATED UPDATES AND RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • A new Sick Bay will be set up between the “emergency use only” rear rotunda glass doors. Any student who has a temperature of 100.4 or more will wait there, the office will monitor students via video while parents are called to pick up. Parents will use the rear sidewalk where they can talk with the office via speakerphone without needing to enter the building. Student privacy and staff compassion will set the tone for this process. In any “normal” year, dozens of students go home due to mild illness.

  • Each teacher will be provided a $50 cash allowance to purchase their own PPE devices (masks) of their own choosing for use during the school day.

  • CCS will provide a clear face screen and rubber gloves for all teachers to be worn while disinfecting rooms with Coronavirus killing solution.

  • ATTENDANCE: As always, faithful attendance will be encouraged. However, the number of absences will not affect student progress if they meet all other enrollment expectations.

  • CCS will follow the Muskegon County Health Department protocols as they pertain to the information regarding documented cases that have had contact with the CCS building.

  • CCS is a long-standing member of the MHSAA. All athletic transportation, testing, and occupancy guidelines established by the MHSAA will be followed.

  • CCS is an accredited member of the ACSI and AdvanceED and as such is an approved SEVIS school for International students. As such, I-20 forms cannot be issued for on-line learning but only for in person/on-campus classes

These changes and reopening protocols accommodate educational best practice and are intended to ensure a safe, secure, and productive educational environment.

*Whitmer, Governor Gretchen & Return to School Advisory Council. (2019). COVID-19 Task Force on Education. Advisory Council MI Safe Schools Michigan’s Return to School Roadmap. Retrieved from https://www.michigan.gov/documents/whitmer/MI_Safe_Schools_Roadmap_FINAL_695392_7.pdf

Public Health- Muskegon County COVID-19 Return to School Toolkit. Retrieved from https://www.co.muskegon.mi.us/DocumentCenter/View/10019/_COVID-19-Return-to-School-Toolkit__PHMC_08-05-2020-w-Appendixes?bidId=




B2School Protocols ~ FAQ

2020-2021 School Year

ARRIVAL ON CAMPUS

Q: When can students enter the building?

A: The building will be unlocked for students to enter at 7:50 am.


Q: May my elementary student walk in with his/her MS/HS sibling?

A: Please drop students off at separate designated doors. This will assist in keeping the cohorts separated from the beginning of the day.

If you have a student driver, they may enter the building together at the designated student driver entrance


Q: Where do teachers park?

A: Teacher park in the front school parking lot and enter the building through the rotunda or “flag foyer” (door #2) entrance


Q: Do students need to wear masks as they enter the building?

A: Yes, everyone entering the building will wear a mask. When students enter their classrooms, they will remain masked until their temperature is taken and recorded. After their temperature has been taken first hour, teachers will use discretion in providing students with appropriate mask breaks.


Q: Will the school have masks available for students who forget their masks?

A: Yes. The school has purchased adult and child size disposable masks that will be for sale in the school office. Since masks are required at different times throughout the day, we recommend that students have a supply of disposable masks in their backpacks. It is also recommended that students have a supply of zip-lock baggies in their lockers, and that all masks have a name written on them


Q: If we are running late, should we still have students check in at the office?

A: Your child/ren should go directly to their classrooms. They should not go to the office.


SCHOOL DAY PROCEDURES

Q: Will students be allowed to linger in hallways until the 1st hour bell rings?

A: Students will go directly to their lockers and gather the necessary items for their first two classes of the day. After gathering their things, students should report directly to their first hour class.


Q: What is the protocol if a student arrives at school and they have a temp of 100. 4 or higher?

A: Students with temperatures of 100.4 or higher will remain masked and go immediately to the sick bay. The teacher will notify the office, and parents will be contacted to pick their child up.

Students with temperatures of 100.0-100.4 will remain masked in the classroom and the teacher will recheck their temperature within the class period. If the student still has an elevated temperature, they will report to the sick bay according to procedures listed above. If their temperature is under 100, they will remain in the classroom and proceed with their normal day.


Q: Where will the Sick Bay be set up?

A: The sick bay will be between the two glass door enclosures outside the office as you exit the building to the playground/soccer field. The student who is ill will gather all of his or her belongings, wear a mask, and go directly to the sick bay. The teacher will call the office to notify the secretary, who will contact the parent to pick up his or her child. Parents will drive to the back of the building (elementary drop off area), come to the building and buzz the secretary, who will then record the time of pick up and dismiss the student to his or her parent..

Q: When may a child who has gone home sick return to school?

A: Students may return to school when they are symptom free for 24 hours.


Q: May MS/HS students go to their lockers between classes?
A: They may go to their lockers at the beginning of the day for their 1st and 2nd hour materials. Before 3rd hour, they will collect their snacks and 3rd-5th hour materials. Following 5th hour, they will gather their lunch and necessary materials for their afternoon (6th-8th hour classes).


Q: May my child keep his or her cell phone on his or her person?

A: Cell phones must be kept in the locker or out of sight in their backpacks at all times unless the teacher grants permission for use.


Q: Will students have lunch in the cafeteria?

A: Students will eat in the classrooms of their first hour teacher or in designated outside venues.


Q: Will students eat snacks or lunch in the hallways?

A: No food or drinks will be consumed in the hallways.


Q: Will students have use of the drinking fountains?

A: Students may use the water bottle filling stations, but drinking fountains have been disabled.


Q: Will hot lunch be offered?

A: Typically, hot lunch doesn’t start for a few weeks into the school year. If we are able to work out the details for hot lunch, they will be served on carts to individual classroom cohorts.


Q: What will elementary recess look like?

A: Instead of having two sections of elementary recess, there will be three sections. Each will have two single cohorts*. The play area will be divided in two play areas which the classes will alternate their recess time by day.The playground/wood chipped area is one space, and the asphalt, basketball hoop, as well as the soccer field is the second play space. We have purchased additional play items for the children to use on the asphalt area.


Q: Will you be disinfecting the playground and recess equipment?

A: All equipment will be disinfected after every use.


Q: Will the MS/HS teachers be disinfecting when students change classes?

A: Yes. The school has purchased disinfecting equipment for every classroom, and will be using a non-toxic coronavirus killing disinfectant on the desks and chairs when students change classes and at the end of the day.


Q: Will the school have hand sanitizer readily available for student use?

A: Yes. Hand sanitizer stations have been installed between all classrooms, the cafeteria, art room, kitchen, offices, chapel, gym, etc. We recommend that all students keep a personal hand sanitizer in their backpack or desk at all times.


Q: Will there be any additional disinfecting measures put in place at school?

A: Yes. Every evening the building will be disinfected with a non-toxic coronavirus killing solution.


Q: How will you handle band class ?

A: We will be utilizing the cafeteria for band to accommodate necessary social distancing and class sizes


Q: What is the plan to accommodate social distancing for the larger senior class?

A: The chapel (room A101) will be used to accommodate social distancing for the senior class. The first three classes of their day will take place in the A101 classroom and will become their homeroom. For their 4th-8th hour classes, students are divided by electives, so the number of students in classrooms will be less than 18.


Q: How are you handling elementary music and MS/HS choir?

A: Elementary music classes will be held in their classrooms. MS/HS choir will practice social distancing while wearing protective clear masks which will assist in limiting spray of air particles.


Q: How will you have MS/HS weekly chapels?

A: The Thursday morning 2nd hour chapel will be held in the cafeteria with one MS and one HS class in attendance each week. The two classes will be social distancing in their cohorts. The other classes will watch chapel live-streamed in their 1st hour classrooms.


Q: How will you have elementary weekly chapels?

A: While there will not be traditional elementary chapel at this time, students will have increased worship time to accompany their rich Bible curriculum.


Q: Are you limiting class sizes to accommodate social distancing?

A: Yes. We are limiting class sizes to accommodate social distancing.


Q: Will there still be staggered dismissal?

A: Yes - students will wear masks in the hallways and common areas before they exit the building.

  • Kindergarten will exit their classrooms directly to the outdoor sidewalk at 3:10.

  • Elementary will exit the “flag foyer” (door #2) as they always have, at 3:15.

  • MS/HS students will exit the far gym doors (doot #3) if they are being picked up.

  • Student drivers may exit at the end of the MS/HS D-Wing (door #26)

  • Students with after school activities will proceed directly to those locations as per their coaches/teachers


Q: Will my older students have time to go outside?

A: All classes, grades K-12, will make use of ample and upgraded outdoor venues as much as possible and weather permitting. These spaces will be used for instruction and for snack and lunch times.


GUESTS AND VISITORS

Q: Will there be Calvario Coffee time this year?
A: No. We are unable to accommodate guests in the building for visiting.


Q: May parents visit classrooms for parties, volunteering, or as library assistants, or lunchroom assistants?

A: We are limiting outside visitors and guests in the building to essential volunteers. Please wait to hear from your child’s teacher regarding classroom needs.

*A cohort is an age-group/grade-level that remains together as a unit for the entire or nearly entire day. Unlike larger schools, at CCS the single grade/single cohort is true for all grades, K-12.


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Guiding Principles of the CCS “Back2School” Committee:

 I have been a part of many committees thoughout my career in K-12 Christian education, and I can truly say it has been a pleasure to problem-solve with our CCS Back2School Committee since our work began last June. Our team consisted of veteran educators and health-care/public safety professionals with degrees in medicine, IT, health, administration, etc. Together they have more than 100 collective years in leadership at CCS.

Together we have worked hundreds of man-hours with the goal of laying the best possible footing for returning to our campus and classrooms in the fall. Individually, we have also worked hundreds of hours researching the ever-changing landscape of a now 6-month long global health emergency. We have also reviewed countless plans of other schools (public and private).

Each school  district has its own challenges and assets, and we appreciate our state's invitation to take to full advantage of our school's strengths in addressing current concerns. CCS is uniquely suited to mitigate risks while maintaining educational best practices as much as possible. We are very pleased with the plan that our board will approve on August 15, 2020. Throughout the process, we have maintained unity (which does not require unanimity). Such unity is reflected in a spirit of deference, explained below. This has been the key to our functioning as a committee and school family, and it will also be the key to a great school year ahead.

Guiding Principles of the “Back2School” Committee:

1.      CCS is a faith-based, non-public school whose mission does not change with changing times. Partnering with likeminded parents has always been a hallmark of CCS. A parent survey will be conducted before a final plan is shared with the CCS family (state-established deadline for posting the final plan is August 17, 2020.) [This survey was completed and processed in early August, and an outdoor, socially distances parent meeting was held in the rear courtyard of the school on August 13. Both the survey and the meeting reflected a positive spirit of unity and overwhelming support for adopting the prescribed protocols in order to be in person/on campus.]

2.      Educational “best practice” will be a factor in all temporary modification of methodology necessitated by other concerns. Our goal will be to mitigate risks not to retreat from life.We all know no institution, regardless of size and resources, can guarantee to eliminate the risks involved in daily living. Just as seatbelts mitigate the risks of car occupancy while driving to school (but they cannot remove all risks of that daily process), our protocols will mitigate the potential concerns we face in this present situation.

3.      Teachers will always be informed of matters that directly affect them before the school family or public.

4.      Because CCS is a school, we will use events beyond our control and responses within our control as teachable moments. We will foster a God-honoring culture of faith not fear as we proceed, keeping passages like Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that He is God.” Romans 12: 18: “As much as depends on us, live peaceably with all…” and Philippians 2:14-15: “Do all things without grumbling to be an example to a forlorn generation for by doing so we will shine like stars in the universe.”  At age appropriate levels, in addition to our regular curriculum, in the current context of the first global pandemic since 2008, (or 2009 H1N1 pandemic) our students will learn related principles of scripture, scientific method, health, hygiene, history, human nature, civic responsibility, self-governance,"can do" problem-solving, teamwork, the U.S. Constitution (as a basis for how a nation maintains order and freedoms amid conflicting cultural responses), etc. 

5.      CCS is an accredited member of ACSI and have received and will continue to seek counsel from ACSI and other non-public and public-school organizations as we proceed to finalize our plan. Our plan will reflect the principles taught in our curriculum, etc. Priority will be given to common sense, consideration of a full scope of pertinent data. Life involves calculated risks mitigated by knowledge, experience, shared information, and "best practice." Some mushrooms are poison, some are on pizza. As we consume food processed and prepared by others, we enjoy the calculated yet unspoken risks and rewards or our culture. Our goal is to mitigate risks in exchange for the rewards of living freely for the glory of God.

6.      Fostering UNITY (but not necessarily unanimity) will be a priority. The first page of our Parent-Student Handbook has included this statement for two decades: “Because education is a partnership, its goals are more effectively met when the home and the school are confident that each party values the best interests of the other. As a practical matter, however, the school cannot be administrated by the many different homes it serves. To function agreeably as a school community, we must exercise deference (i.e. courteous, respectful compliance to guidelines which may not reflect our own preference). Order, unity, and the mission of CCS are best achieved when [we respect the ‘deference-over-preference’ principle.]” 

7.      The committee and administration will present q plan to reopen on the Tuesday after Labor Day. The School Board ultimately approves the policy, timeline, contingencies, etc. and decides when to present it to parents, the MDE, etc.

8.      The Governor’s “roadmap” asks that each school’s plan be submitted to the MDE and the Michigan Treasury Department by August 17, 2020. The fact that each district (CCS is considered its own district) has to submit THEIR OWN PLAN implies that these plans are rightly considered “local” matters rather than one-size-fits-all approach across the state. We appreciate the wisdom of that latitude, and that the premises behind the Governor’s “road map” can be individually adapted to meet the realities of each district. It is the committee's intention to provide a prima facie plan that is acceptable to our clientele, compliant with the most reliable data within of state guidelines, and compelling to the broader CCS community beyond the families we serve.


NOTE: On it’s opening page, our CCS Parent-Student Handbook says, “Though all families agree to defer to the policies herein, these pages are not intended to dictate the atmosphere of our building or the “spirit” of the day to day operation of our school.” The same holds true for the temporary protocols adopted to make our re-opening possible this fall. The presentation and implementation of “Reopening Plan” protocols will reflect the mutual respect and deference we are called to model within the Church, within our school, and within our community. On its closing page, our handbook says Like-mindedness is best achieved through unity in essential matters, liberty in deferential matters and charity in all matters."  

TOGETHER WE'LL GET THERE!


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Jumping Through the HOPES...Together

Note: This post includes many common idioms explained by clickng on the orange bold text.

Idioms are expressions that lose their original, literal meanings and are used to convey a more figurative thought. The confusion of idioms becomes obvious when talking to a student unfamiliar with the language. Imagine a foreign student new to English who asks an American friend if it is hard to get a visa to study abroad. His friend replies, "It's really a piece of cake if you have friends in high places, but it will cost an arm and a leg if you can't jump through all the hoops." When the words of those four idioms are translated literally, the inquisitive young man may think that getting a visa could be a delicious hike up a mountain or a horrible fall through amputating swords and hula hoops. Sometimes idioms are like that.

Take that last one I mentioned: "Jumping through the hoops." Its origins are from the circus (and venues like SeaWorld) where dogs, horses, lions, tigers (and seals and dolpins) literally jumped through hoops to entertain an audience. Why were these acts impressive? Because there is no natural reason to do it, and sometimes the hoops were on fire, which meant the animal was trained to ignore its natural fears. All this to get something in return (e.g. a treat, sugar cube, chunk of meat or fish). Circuses and SeaWorld grew less popular in the 21st Century as people became more sensitive toward animals, but the notion of "jumping through hoops" as an indiom lives on for humans. 

This idiom typically means that "the party of the first part" is willing to perform tasks imposed by "the party of the second part" with the hopes of getting something in return (a bike, a car, a diploma, a job, a degree, a visa, etc.)  "Jumping through hoops" almost always has a "task master" who places higher value on the "hoops" than those jumping through them. For this reason, the idiom tends to sound like a complaint by the person saying it, as if they fail to see the purpose in all the rigamarole (an idiomatic word with a story of its own).

While "hoop jumping" does have a negative connotation--right up there with "red tape." There is usually a "method to the madness" that is not all bad. 

For instance, this principle is at work wherever there are rules to follow. It makes competition fair: Nearly all sports (not just basketball) are basically a test to see which team can "jump through the hoops" better or faster than the other. It also brings order to our world: whenever you drive a car with a license and insurance and you buckle up, obey the stop signs, follow speed limits, and drive correctly down a one-way streets, etc. you're "jumping through the hoops" of making our streets safer.

It is frustrating, however, when the objectives are more difficult for some than for others. We value "fairness"--it's why there are weight classes in wrestling, and yet sometimes unequal things are matched up to compete. Surprisingly, sometimes a tortoise may beat a hare depending on what "hoops" are involved. Sometimes competition is like that.

It's also frustrationg when if the rules for "hoop jumping" change on a whim (e.g. if  the goal posts move from game to game). It's especailly frustrating if those creating the rules for "hoop jumping" seem to give themselves a "home field advantage" where the rules affect them less than others. I get that, but sometimes rules and rulers are like that.

It's confusing when the data behind "hoop jumping" is in conflict with other known data or when numbers and statistics seem to make some hoops more important than others. When Hank Aaron beat Babe Ruth's home-run record in 1974, he had the advantage of many more games per season, and when Barry Bonds beat Hank Aaron's record in 2007, it was later learned that he used performance inhancing steroids. Sometimes statistics are like that.

Sometimes the media and politicians can take several hoops and connect them like a big chain that is used to block something or change the natural flow of events. It's especially discouraging when the reason behind the hoops or chains seem to favor one group over another, and when the less favored group seems silenced by the same media. Sometimes the media and politics are like that.

I confess, sometimes I'm not happy with the media or politicians or  "red tape" and  "hoop jumping" that impose things into my life. Do you ever feel that way?

"After all," we tell ourselves, "We are not trained seals needing fish from someone else's hand.  We are not going through the motions to please men like caged animals in some circus cage. We were meant to live freely and to weigh the risks and rewards of our own hoops." 

I get that, and it's true, but as believers we are more than "free indeed." We are image bearers of Creator God. Even those who do not acknowledge Him are His image bearers, but they are not the light of the world. We understand that since the fall when sin first entered the world, God has held out the promise of restoring His original intent. He will restore the original meaning to His creation in His time. God's plan is like that.

In the meantime, His Word tells us that the trials of this life purify us like gold ... that sometimes its by deferring to "hoops" without complaining" that we beam in the darkness around us and shine like stars... (Philippians 2:15). 

So from here in our corner of the world, perhaps this is our time to shine to more than 200 nations/territories attempting to mitigate a new virus that has spread around the world in nine months.

All things considered, we are doing a pretty good job of mitigating the risks without losing all of the rewards of freedom. Sure, it is an imperfect and sometimes frustrating process, but let's not lose HOPE as we jump through the hoops.  

This, too, shall pass, and as long as TEMPORARY HOOPS CAN REMIND US OF OUR ETERNAL HOPE... and of what we believe and why we are here on this earth... so long as this can be said of us in these times... let us jump through the HOPES together and do whatever it takes to be exemplary as we gather safely together for school in the fall. Better days are yet to come. Sometimes life is like that.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

May 5 Update: "I Believe: The Risks and Rewards of Reality"

Some may find the video of this post naive or overly optimistic. I don't think so. I do not accept the notion that we have entered a "new reality" and that life as we knew it must conform to a "new normal" defined by others.  I choose to believe that words like recess, lunch-line, school play, student section, stadium, theme park, parade, and congregation will continue to have clear and functional meaning in the months and years to come. 

This video explains why I believe this and what CCS can expect as we close out this 2019-2020 school year.

Those living through the spring of 2020 will never forget it, but I believe we will someday have to tell the next generation what it was like.


Monday, April 27, 2020

Seeing Signs Along The Way...

When I was a little kid about three years old, my sister, and brothers and I would sometimes wander from our own yard, and Mom would come running from the house to call us back. Where do you think you're going?" she'd ask. And according to family legend, I would always say, "...on a bubenshur..." because evidently I could not say the word "adventure."

So for the rest of my life whenever returning from a trip with my mother, she would say, "Well, that was a 'bubenshur'..." and I would smile as if passing a pop-quiz on terms from our family lexicon.

My mom has been gone form many years, but Friday was her birthday and that quirky little word came back to me as Mrs. K and I returned home from a very pleasant trip to some of your front yards. We did it again on Saturday and it was again a wonderful "bubenshur."

We know west Michigan well, but finding some of your homes took us to beautiful places we had never seen before.We passed farms and orchards; fields and forests, rivers and lakes; closed malls and busy country stores. We even saw some of you along the way, and we've also seen dozens of you on social media beside Calvary signs that others delivered. Whereever we go, I'm seeing Calvary signs along the way.

This past week Brad and Joy Richards secretly put a sign in the yard of nearly all Muskegon area CCS families. Mrs. Sarah VanTine  also helped place several signs. By the end of this week, all of families in our directory should have one. (Please let us know if you don''t.) 

Through the years, Calvary has always had families from within a long tri-angle roughly from West Olive (south) to Ravena (east) and Freemont / Shelby area (north) wtih the Lake Michigan shoreline along the west. It's always a joy to go to the "Open Houses" of seniors from extremities, and after six weeks of quarantine, it was a special treat to take this 200-mile safe-social-distancing excursion this weekend making sure everyone got a sign. We hope this small gesture underscores the truth of each line on that sign because it is truer than ever.

Calvary is a very diverse school family. It is urban, suburban and rural in four counties. About half of our homes have only one student, but several have four or five.  If the family that lives furthest south of the school went to visit the family that lives furthest north, it would take roughly an hour to get there. (Having seen both of these large hard-working families from a distance this weekend, I can tell you that it it's well worth the trip.) If the family furthest east of the school traveled as many miles west, they would end up about 10-15 miles out in Lake Michigan.

The blue lines on this map lead to only a few of the homes Mrs. K and I went to on Friday and Saturday. More than 500 miles were traveled to deliver these and the 100+ other signs, but the five people involved gladly touched each yard as a thank you to the CCS families and staff who collectively travel more than 2,000 miles round trip each day to come to Calvary. (That does not factor in car-pooling but is based on round trips from each of our CCS homes to school and back.)

Until driving a fraction of those miles this weekend, I did not fully understand how remarkable a place Calvary is because of each of you. Thank you for being a vital part of Calvary Christian Schools.

We say it often, but in the context of these facts it bears repeating:

CCS builds an educational foundation based not on geography but on the "common ground" of shared values. We are defined not by the roads we take to gather but by the path we walk together.

Many thanks to the donors who made these yard signs possible.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

"Enoch Was No More": The Story of a Chinese CCS Senior Whose Father was Wrongfully Imprisoned for His Faith.

This is a story that could not be told to the CCS family until very recently. In late March, Enoch was granted political (religious) asylum by the U.S. State Department, and he is now free to speak openly of why he came to Calvary.

This past February, CCS friend and former banquet speaker, Dr. Bob Fu, was a guest speaker during the January Series at Calvin University. His presentation was live-streamed across the country and to different countries and the persecuted church in China. In that address he introduced Enoch to the large audience, saying that today with us is the oldest son of one of the most newsworthy examples of the persecuted church in China. That day we learned that Bob Fu’s financials legal assistance in Enoch's "back story" has been known by CCP since the first few weeks of his father's imprisonment.

That same week, Enoch's father also told his son, "You are safe. You are free. Speak up. Tell the truth about what has happened to us. God will protect you in America and us here in China." 

This past week, Enoch and I sat down in our living room to tell you, his friends and family at CCS, an abreviated version of how his father was imprisoned in China and how, upon his release after two and a half years, they determined to get their son Enoch safely out of communist-controled China to attend Calvary Christian Schools. This is that story. 


Part One: "What They Did to My Father"



Part Two: "Enoch Arrives in America"




NOTE: Numerous links to related news articles about Enoch's father may be found at the "Show More" prompt at the YouTube channel of these videos.