Archive for Faith

Congratulations! You’re a United States Citizen

MCS 2nd graders get to witness their teacher become an American!

For 2nd grade teacher Ximena and others, swearing the oath of allegiance is the culmination of a long process of naturalization that can take years. So when our 2nd grade Spanish Immersion students found out Ximena was finally becoming a U.S. citizen, they wanted to be there with her.

But they almost missed out on the experience altogether.

A Few Surprises

After a 45 minute drive, her students (and parent volunteers) arrived at the Herrick District library and made their way part way down the stairs – when they were stopped. As parent Laura explains, “An official told us we could go no farther, that the room was full and that we wouldn’t be able to witness the ceremony.  We asked if we could at least see Ximena. They did go get her so we could at least say hello, give her a card and greet her before the ceremony. “

Did we say that we didn’t tell Ximena that we were coming? Surprise! She was a little flustered when staff pulled her out of line and asked her to come along with them. (Sorry, Ximena!)

While all of this was going on, a library volunteer, who happened to be an MCS graduate, saw what was going on. He talked to the library Director, who was sympathetic to our situation.  As we were huddled in the lobby trying to decide what to do next, the director told us that she would fit us in somehow.  Soon they announced us as a special group attending and ushered us up on the side of the platform so the kids had a better view. They told our students to cheer loud, and the man who initially told us to leave gave each kid a high five as they came up on the platform!

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience

Some of the highlights of the ceremony were hearing all 30 countries listed that were represented by participants in this particular ceremony. Our students loved cheering for Ximena as they called her up to receive her certificate.  The coordinators also made it a point to highlight our group of students and let them tell the audience what school they were from. They also had Ximena stand up and wave to her class. 

The students loved being a part of this unique experience. As one student shared, “It was cool how many people were there and that they could all become citizens”. For many of the kids, it is probably the only time they will witness this ceremony. And they loved surprising their teacher.

Ximena was indeed surprised. She was a little overcome too (in the best way).

It has been a long, almost six year journey where I have seen how God’s sovereignty has worked upon our family. First, the doors opened for us to move from our home country and leave everything to then move to the USA in a matter of a few short months.  We first arrived in December, 2013 and we were exposed to a new culture and language.  We did not know where we would end up – but God had a plan for us.

Our family’s almost 6 year journey concluded by becoming a U.S. citizen and being part of this great nation. This country has welcomed me with open arms and it continues to do it for so many other immigrants that arrive from all over the world.  God has facilitated this process to be smooth and now I’m very happy it is completed.

I am thankful for all my students and the parents who came and were the perfect audience for this unique experience.  It certainly made it a lot more special for me to share this special moment with each of them.

– Ximena

We’re happy we could support Ximena on this day. “I’m so proud of Ximena, and of our students and how they behaved,” shares Laura. “They were able to experience a taste of what becoming a citizen involves, and were able to see some of the variety of people who come to join our country. It was a great day!”

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 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.”

More Than One Week – Spiritual Emphasis at MCS

At MCS we can celebrate:  He is greater than i!

We just concluded our Spiritual Emphasis Week at MCS today and kicked off a year of exploring ways to apply John 3:30 – “He must become greater; I must become less” – to our lives.  This past week, every day began with a Praise service in which different speakers shared ways that we can make God greater through the choices we make.  Every day of this year, we plan to help students live out and grow in their faith and in their walk with God.

We are so blessed to have a school where we can share our testimonies with each other and lift others up with prayer.  Thank you to those who make Christian education possible in Muskegon and help us to raise up the next generation of servant leaders!

Great things are happening at MCS this Fall!

We have welcomed over 270 students to MCS this fall and we LOVE seeing our school halls filled with children after the summer break!
We have a number of events coming up at MCS that our community members are encouraged to take part in.
The MCS Parent Powered committee is kicking off our annual fall fundraiser. This year we will be selling subs from Great Lakes Market as well as Wesco refillable popcorn buckets. The sale starts September 15 with orders due by October 6. All profits will help fund teacher grants, field trips, and special projects at MCS.
Save the Date for our Grandparents Day on Friday, October 13th at 1pm. Grandparents and special friends are invited to join us in the Three Oaks gym next door (the old WMC gymnasium) at 1pm for the formal program followed by coffee and cookies in the MCS gym afterward and classroom visits.
Spiritual Emphasis Week is coming up September 18-22.  We’ll begin every day of this week with a Praise service!  A different area pastor will share a message with us around this years’ theme HE>me based on John 3:30.  We invite friends and family to join us every morning this week at 8:30am in the MCS gym.
We will host our Scholastic Book Fair from October 9-13.  The Book Fair will be open from 2-3:30 during Grandparents Day as well.  Books make a great gift for students (hint: Stock up for Christmas)!
These are just a few things happening at MCS in the upcoming month.  Check back regularly for more updates (e.g. we’re starting to plan a Fall Fest in later October).
Do you want to learn more about any of these events and opportunities?  Contact us!