By Clint Brown
An idea that started months ago - went into motion beginning on Jan. 3 and concluded last week at Pella Christian High School.
"We wanted to make PC stand out as a school," Dan Van Kooten, Guidance Counselor at Pella Christian High School, said.
Thus began the journey of Winterim at PCHS. Winterim began as students returned from holiday break and concluded last Friday. The concept was simply to find areas of interest for the students to explore that would not have the opportunity to do during the regular school day.
Student at the high school had several options to choose from. One option was to take part in an internship. Students were able to job shadow during the Winterim both locally and at locations outside the the community. Almost 70 students took part in this option, which was about double what Van Kooten and staff anticipated.
"I am most excited about this," Van Kooten said. "This will help students find a career area and give them a shot in the arm. It is a very valuable experience."
Van Kooten gave examples of the internships ranging from doctors to exploring the world of photography.
"We even have someone over at Midtown Tire looking into the tire business."
The second option, which students could take part in, was mission trips. These trips included ventures to Spain, where students (6 total from PCHS) worked with a local pastor in Caceres, Spain, on projects in the area as well as experience the true Spanish culture. The group who traveled to Spain left on New Year's Eve and returned on Friday.
An additional group of 10 students traveled to Haiti and worked on projects which included moving desks and painting at an elementary (primary) school which serves as a sister school to PC in Pignon, Haiti. Students on the trip also visited sick children in the area. A blog from the trip can be found online at http://www.mh4h.org/unexpected-trials-and-blessings/.
Drama students from PCHS (23 total) also had the opportunity to take part in a trip led by PCHS faculty member Marlo Van Peursem. The trip included stops in Chicago, Western Michigan and New York City. The group saw Broadway plays and were able to go behind stage in New York City following one of the performances. A one-act play which the students created was presented at various locations during the trip as well.
"The students did service projects at Roseland Christian School in Chicago," Van Kooten said.
Those who did not participate in the mission trips or internship opportunities could be found in the classrooms at PCHS taking classes in such subjects as agriculture, foods around the world, sports marketing, music composition, French or even scrappbooking. Over 20 different classes were offered throughout the day during the Winterim.
"Students would have these classes available to those otherwise," Van Kooten said. "We were also able to tap into some of the teachers' interests that they are not able to teach or share their passion for during the regular school day."
Van Kooten commented that much discussion went into the planning of the Winterim.
"A total of seven days of curriculum was being given up," he said. "We had to find a want to make this work. We hope to continue this into the future and make this an annual part of the year."