Author Archive for Sonya Doty

A Legacy of Support at MCS

Part of our Family

Bill Malda sharing his World War II experiences with WZZM in 2018.

William ‘Bill’ and Cornelia ‘Connie’ Malda were never shy about their love of Muskegon Christian School.

‘My dad was known for his love of our Christian schools. When we were growing up, he commuted up to Hart or Shelby to work every day, but wanted us to live in Muskegon so we could attend Muskegon Christian”, shares Sharon (Malda) DeWall.

Bill, who passed away this fall at the age of 96, didn’t grow up attending MCS. He instead attended school in a rural one-room school house. After he served in World War II (receiving a Purple Heart for his service), he married MCS alum Connie Rop in 1948. Together they raised 4 children who all attended MCS. The two grandchildren who stayed in the area attended as well.
Upon his discharge from the war, Bill became a masonry contractor for the next 40 years, helping to build many properties in the greater Muskegon area – including MCS. He helped lay the foundations of the current MCS building in 1954 with help from friends like fellow MCS alum Charles ‘Charlie’ Keur. When he retired in the 1980’s, he spent much of his free time volunteering to maintain the MCS building.

Bill and Connie’s gifting of their time, treasures and talent is a legacy that their children have taken on for themselves. Echoing his father, son Jim Malda serves as the coordinator of our MCS ‘Friday Crew’, a dedicated group of volunteers who tackle maintenance projects around our campus every Friday morning. Daughter Sharon DeWall has faithfully volunteered for years in our SCRIP office, even showing up on the eve of her father’s funeral to serve. “It’s what he would have wanted – to be supporting the school like he did. This school is like a part of our family, and it’s a community that we’re deeply committed to,” explains Sharon.

Bill’s daughter Sharon with MCS classmates in 1963

Friends for 4 Generations

“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”

Pearl (Vannette) Vanderlaan wrote this as her MCS Class of 1946 personal motto, and over her lifetime, lived this out. She was loved by so many, including her listed ‘favorite pastime’ in the 46’ MCS yearbook– Arnie – who ended up being her husband for 68 years until his death in 2018. Together Arn and Pearl Vanderlaan saw their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren attend MCS, and so many of them have blessed us in their support of MCS. So while we were sad to hear of Pearl’s passing away on November 8th, we are thankful that we know she celebrates in heaven with her Savior today.

One of Pearl’s great-grandchildren at MCS designing a trebuchet.

We are blessed by the legacy that Pearl and Arn, Bill and Connie – and so many other friends of MCS like them – have left behind through their commitment to Christian education.

Welcome Back, MCS!

Updates to the Building and Grounds

Every summer we try to get some projects done around the school, and this year we accomplished some pretty major updates.

  • We are SO excited that our ‘original’ upper elementary bathrooms received a remodel, including new stalls and sinks, as well as freshly painted walls. Our Friday Guys took on the demo (thanks, gentlemen!) and we were able to keep on budget.
  • We were able to repave our south parking lot, and extend it as well.
  • SERVE volunteers visited us for a week in July and were able to spread mulch, clean out lockers, and other tasks.
  • Our music and band room received new carpet, band chairs, and technology upgrades. Our music teacher Brenda Oosterhouse also volunteered to paint and decorate the entire room. It looks great, Brenda!
Band Teacher Nick DeBone teaching Band to 5th grade students

New Faces in the Classroom

We not only welcome a new batch of preschoolers to MCS this fall, but new staff as well!

Our new 3 year-old Preschool teacher is Penelope DeWeerd. She moved to the area recently with her husband and LOVES working with preschoolers. She is musically gifted (plays 5 instruments) and loves to paint as well.

In our Spanish Immersion Kindergarten class, Betty Fernandez brings over 20 years in Christian education experience with her from the Dominican Republic. She loves to spend time with her husband and 3 kids exploring new places.
She was first inspired to become a teacher by a cousin who was a Kindergarten teacher.


I loved to see how much fun she had with her students and how much love she gave them and received from them. As a teacher, we are able to mold and shape the lives and hearts of our students. This is the main reason why I became a teacher: to make a difference in their lives and hearts. Teaching is my passion!

Katie Kalvaitis, our new Spanish Immersion 5th Grade teacher, grew up in Fremont, MI and attended Aquinas College. After graduating college, she did mission work in Bolivia for 14 months where she participated in community outreach & taught English. For the last 5 years, she has been teaching kindergarten, first, & second grade Spanish immersion at Fremont Christian School.
She is excited to teach 5th grade here at MCS. “God gave me a heart for working with youth!”

We also added a new part-time Spanish Immersion 6th grade teacher this fall. Erika Mariglia grew up in Frankenmuth, MI and attended WMU for her bachelor’s degree. After that, she lived in Honduras for 7 years doing mission work and helped to build a bilingual Christian school.
Back in Michigan now for over 5 years with her husband, Erika and her husband just adopted a baby boy and also have 3 pets – so they’re a busy family!

We are thrilled to have these wonderful new teachers join our MCS family this fall. If you run into them in the halls, please join us in welcoming them!

Lessons from a Veteran

WWII Veteran shares with MCS students his story – and how God is at work even in hard times.

As a soldier in the ninth air force during World War II, Mr. Clarence Schipper met a lot of hardship and sadness. Yet he came back home with his faith strengthened.
When he visited our 4th grade students in Miss Potts class this spring, he shared his testimony and some memories of the war.

Mr. Schipper showing students pictures from when he served in World War II

“I saw a lot in the last two years (of the war). We crossed the English Channel on D+16 (that’s 16 days after D day) and we went through northern France. We went through the tip of Belgium, down into the Netherlands… and then across Germany.

I saw death, destruction, cities bombed, planes shot down, pilots killed. We were near one battle where Germans shot up a British truck and a tank. I looked inside to the truck and there were two English guys. One had his arm around his buddy to protect him – but they both were dead. And in a tank nearby were soldiers that were trying to get out of a crippled tank – they were shot and dead.

Our unit was not a combat unit, but we were close to the front… we were in the Battle of the Bulge, we had buzz bombs flying over us (and some landed near us), and we went through the Buchenwald concentration camp.”

Mr. Schipper shared what it was like to encounter the people that the Germans starved, and how they fed some of them out of their mess kits with food left over. And as all this came to a head, he questioned, ‘Is there a God who cares?’

“I walked up a steep hill and I began to read my Bible. Here’s what I read:
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:12-15

And when I read that, when I thought how Jesus suffered like we did and was tempted in every way that I was, I wanted to follow Him for the rest of my life. And so when I got back home I made profession of faith in our church. And I’m glad I did.

The students enjoyed trying on his uniform and learning all about the different symbols on his hat and jacket.

Some other things our students learned from Mr. Schipper?
” They ate C and K-rations. He taught us about K rations.”
” He was scared for his life – war isn’t easy! Mr. Schipper is so brave.” (One of our students wrote he is the bravest person they know.)
” He served for 2, almost 3 years.”
” He showed us lots of pictures.”
” He talked with us about weapons and war technology”.
” He was drafted before he finished high school, but he did get his diploma.”

We were so thankful to hear Mr. Schipper’s story and to be able to ask him questions. Thank you to all those who served our country in the past – and serve today – to protect our freedoms.

The MCS Auction Book is ready!

Join us on Friday, May 3rd 2019!

A Special ‘Thank you’ to our awesome Auction sponsors!

Betten Baker Chevrolet
West Coast Pediatric Dentistry 
Core Realty Partners
Sytsema Funeral and Cremation Services
Bishop Heating and Air Conditioning 
Independent Bank
Van’s Car Wash
WESCO

and other friends of MCS.

Save the date for the 2019 MCS Auction!

We are excited to be hosting our annual Muskegon Christian School Auction at The Innovation Hub in downtown Muskegon on Friday, May 3rd at 6pm.  Our goal is to raise over $40,000 from this auction and all funds raised will help support our teachers and students at MCS.  This auction is our biggest event of the year and we love how it brings together our community leaders, donors, current parents, and friends of MCS.  We would love you to be a part of it!

We have some exciting items up for bid this year, many that are new to our auction! Here’s a sneak peek:

Mackinac Bridge Tower Tour for 2
Have you ever wanted to go to the top of one of the 2 towers of the Mackinac Bridge?  This year at our MCS auction, you can bid on 2 tour tickets for this rare opportunity! (The bridge authority only donates 25 tours a year so, we likely won’t be able to offer this opportunity again for a long time). More details available on our Facebook page.
Beautiful Dining Table from Blended Furniture Market
50″ wide round table with gorgeous heavy base. A beautiful table that blends with so many styles!
Backyard Pollination and Honey Package
Host a hive, learn the craft and make lots of honey on your own property!
10 Cu. Yards of Shredded Bark Delivered – Grand Haven Garden House Includes delivery within Tri-Cities area (S of Pontaluna, N of M-45, W of 128th.)
2 Hour Tour from West Michigan Cycleboat
It’s a Bike – and it’s a Boat! You and up to 11 friends can enjoy up to 2 hours on West Michigan’s first Cycleboat!

We are still collecting items for our auction!  Especially popular items include gift certificates from local businesses, getaway and ‘staycation’ items and once-in-a-lifetime (think ‘bucket list’) offerings.   Do you have a donation for us?  We love new and creative gifts to offer at our auction!  Hundreds of people attend our annual auction and your donation would be noticed by many more through our advertising efforts and in our booklet.

We are a 501(c)3 and all donations will be receipted for tax purposes.

Donations can be mailed to:
Muskegon Christian School, Attn: Auction Committee, 1220 Eastgate St, Muskegon, MI  49442
For more information on this event including donation and sponsorship opportunities, please contact us!

Look for more updates after Spring Break and sneak peeks on items up for bid here on our blog and on MCS Facebook page.
Plan to join us on May 3rd for an inspiring night in support of our students!

Enrollment Season has Begun!

We know that families are busy, so instead of just one traditional ‘Open House’ night, this spring we are offering many different ways for you to come explore MCS!

Tour Anytime (Really! Just call ahead)

We really love to have families experience our school when it is full of students and provide them with a personalized tour.  Call ahead to schedule a time and our principal will give you a tour and can answer any questions you might have.

OPEN HOUSE FRIDAYS any Friday in March

Come between 8am and 3pm any Friday in March to visit classrooms, meet teachers and tour the school.  (We do ask that you RSVP so we that we can give you a VIP experience:)  Just contact us!

STEM and Storytelling Night on March 21st from 6-7:30pm

Explore classrooms filled with fun STEM activities based on classic stories your child will love.
Meet our teachers, engage with current families and see the many opportunities available for your child to grow and thrive at MCS.  We will also have enrollment information available this evening, and staff on hand to answer all your questions.  No registration required – just show up!
Current families are encouraged to bring along friends or neighbors to join us on this night.  We offer a special gift for current families who share MCS in this way too!

We’d love to meet you!  So contact us today and arrange a visit in the way that suits you best.

The Power of Stories

Stories Worth Telling

What makes a story worth telling?  Miss Potts’ fourth grade class has spent some time this winter focused on this question.  As a starting point, Miss Potts’ grandma Mrs. Haak (a former teacher) came in and shared her story with the class. She helped the kids to think about God’s faithfulness and how, despite the fact that life has a lot of changes, God never changes.  The Bible is full of stories of people not so different from us who had amazing stories.

Short Stories

The class of students brainstormed some reasons that stories are worth telling, and after more reflection, started creating their own autobiographies.   Being on average 10 years old, their autobiographies were rather short.  Once they finished their stories, they shared them with some of the residents at Christian Care.

Longer Stories

After sharing their autobiographies, the students each interviewed a resident so that they could write a biography about their (considerably longer) stories.  In preparation for this phase of the project, Grandma Haak came back and shared with the class a little bit about Alzheimer’s disease. She helped the kids understand the disease and shared a story about her friend with Alzheimer’s.  She shared that even though the disease changes the person’s life, they are still the same person inside.  Grandma Haak prepared the kids a little bit of how to talk to people at Christian Care or what to do if they don’t respond in ways we might expect.

We asked the students to share what they learned from the stories that the residents shared.  Here are a few their responses:

Bryson: You can learn a lot from older people because you might ask them about it and they can help you with what to do.
Braeden: Their lives are kind of like us. (He liked games and basketball and baseball too).
Mia: Even though they may have disabilities they are still the same person.
Ny’Asia: Even if a person is having a bad day or eats different they are still a lot like you.

Future Stories

Miss Potts asked the students to think about what they hope for as they get older.  A few of their responses:

 Leah  “I can’t wait to see what God has planned for me in the future. I hope I live an amazing life with God, and a good relationship with my friends. I love my family, friends, and God and I count on them to help me at hard and good times through my life. I think life is going to be amazing with them.”

Becca  “I’m so thankful for all the gifts that God has given me. I hope that when I get older I can use my gifts to serve others right now I can use my gifts to serve my family by baking cakes”.

Our students were inspired by many of the stories that the residents shared.  As Isaac summarized, “They have experiences that we haven’t and they can give us advice to help us. Because they might have learned it the hard way. Maybe when I’m older I can do that (give advice to younger people) – because I’ve learned a lot of things the hard way.”

A Special Update for our Supporting Community

Highlights

We’re honored to share our mission with a wonderful community who lifts us up with their prayers, service and financial support.  We like to share with you how we are working to offer an exemplary Christian educational experience for our families at MCS.  So every year, we create an annual update – our MCS Report on Learning – that gives our supporters a taste of what is happening here at MCS.

Check out our Annual Report here!

Some highlights from the report:  We are happy to report that our school is thriving!  We have 270 students (PS-6th) representing over 58 churches.  We have a diverse student body with about 35% being of minority status.

Financials

We are thankful that God provides for our school through the faithful support of our community.  About 76% of our revenue comes from tuition: the rest (around $280,000) comes from charitable resources such as donations to the annual fund and interest income from our foundations.  Our numbers reflect how reliant we are on our supporting community!

Gratitude

Our hearts are full of thankfulness for all the volunteers, teachers, parents and community members who support our mission at MCS to provide academic excellence with a Christian worldview that engage each student in a lifetime of Christian discipleship.  Our passionate teachers are focused on preparing our youth to serve and glorify God with their unique gifts.  Thanks for your part in it!

 

Unconventional Measurements

Sure, we use rulers and other traditional measurement tools in our classrooms. But learning can be much more engaging – and fun – when our teachers explore subjects with a more unconventional approach.

How many Kindergarten Body Length’s Long is a Walrus?

In Maestra DeEsteva’s Kindergarten class, students learn how they can use different units such as book lengths, straws, etc. to approximate the length of a larger object. They discovered that the walrus they painted was approximately 17 straws in length, which is also about three Kindergarteners long!

In Kindergarten, our students are learning patterns, shape and size attributes, position and comparison words, counting forward to 100, counting by 2s, 5s and 10s, recognizing patterns, time to the hour and ½ hour, money, measuring, graphing, estimation, addition and subtraction.  Maestra DeEsteva loves to have students work together in groups as much as possible.  “My students are most engaged when they get to explore the curriculum together.”

How many Outfits Could Mr. DeKam Enjoy Wearing?

Measurement becomes a little more complicated and sophisticated in Mr. Bonnema’s 5th Grade class.  Students were asked to determine how many possible outfits Mr. DeKam could have with 4 different shirts and 4 different pants.  As you can see,  they discovered that there were a total of 16 possible outfits for Mr. DeKam to enjoy.  And they had a lot of fun turning the principal into a math problem!

In math and other subjects, we pride ourselves in exceeding academic expectations, while teaching and applying a Christian perspective in all we do in and outside the classroom.  We use standardized testing and other State and National standards as we develop a Christ-centered and academically challenging curriculum.  While we do not make standardized test taking a focus of our curriculum, MCS consistently scores well above the average and is consistently the highest or among the highest in the area.

All this ‘adds up’ to a great academic experience for our students!

New Faces at MCS this Fall

New Spanish Immersion Teacher

Lisa Bonilla is our new 4th Grade Spanish Immersion teacher at MCS.  She was born and raised in Frankenmuth, MI. Growing up she was actively involved in sports, music, academic clubs, and youth group with church. After high school, she went to GVSU for one year to study social work, but then had an opportunity to go to Honduras to visit her sister who was involved in ministry there. After visiting for a month, she was offered a job to help open a school. She dropped everything in Michigan and moved to Central America for four years. While there, she taught Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, 3rd grade, and music.  “I was also involved with prison ministry, played soccer nearly every day, and fell in love with the language, people, food, and culture,” shares Lisa.  She also began studies online through Liberty University.

She moved with her husband to Virginia in 2014 so they could both finish their degrees at Liberty. After her husband finished his studies in 2017, they moved back to her home state of Michigan.  Lisa adds, “It’s good to be back!  After having been an ABA therapist for kids with autism for a year here in Muskegon, I’m very excited to be back in teaching.  A big thanks to all of you who have already made me feel so welcome here at MCS.”

Our Front Desk Has a New Face Too

Laura Scholma has 3 boys who attend MCS and her husband Josh teaches at WMC.  Laura loves to run and has coached cross country for the last 15 years.  She also worked at Covenant Life Church as the Early Childhood Coordinator for a number of years before joining our staff. She’s not afraid of a good challenge (eg. she has bicycled across the Mackinaw Bridge 5 times).  She is excited to help support the teachers and families by serving in the main office.

Other New Staff

We have a new teacher for our youngest students at MCS this year.  Patience Hartley enjoys leading a room full of active preschoolers in our 3 year old preschool room.  She attended Grace Bible College and was born and raised in Muskegon.
Our new music teacher, Brenda Oosterhouse, originates from Iowa but graduated from Calvin and now lives in Marne with her family.
Rhonda Hill is a new face in our support services office. She and her husband have 2 boys who graduated from MCS and now attend WMC.
Brittany Merrill is helping with our Preschool Spanish Immersion program this year.  She has been so impressed by the language acquisition of our students and is so excited to be part of this program.

Please welcome our new staff when you see them in the halls!