Imaginations at work

January 4, 2012 | Focus On | Number 1
By Geraldine Balzer-Peters and Gail Schellenberg |
Rosthern Junior College students put their imaginations to work on an international service learning trip in support of a community in Guatemala.

Every September for the last 106 years, students have arrived at the Rosthern (Sask.) Junior College

(RJC) campus to learn, explore their faith, play, live together, and to become friends and community.

It is important to remember the history of this place and the mission of the school: “To nurture the development of every student’s God-given potential in preparation for a life of faith, service and peacemaking.”

Bell Hooks, the noted black feminist, has said, “All that we cannot imagine will never come into being.” Imagination is where everything begins. Someone imagined a Mennonite high school on the Prairies and RJC came into being, and thousands of lives have been changed.

By entrusting our children to the care and nurture of our deans, cooks, support staff and teachers, we have imagined an education that goes beyond the classroom disciplines and the playing fields. We recognize the value of roommates, service learning, and a life of faith and peacemaking. We celebrate those individuals who work at RJC each day to bring these experiences into being. We celebrate with each of the students here who had the courage to leave the familiar behind and imagine something new.

The imagination that Hooks calls us to have is not passive daydreaming. This imagination is a call to action, working towards what we have imagined. This imagination requires us to have faith and hope. The extended classroom of RJC encourages that action, strengthens that faith, nurtures that hope.

However, participation is key. Hooks challenges herself and each of us with these words: “I entered the classroom with the conviction that it was crucial for me and every other student to be an active participant, not a passive consumer . . . education as the practice of freedom . . . education that connects the will to know with the will to become. Learning is a place where paradise can be created.”

It is more than just teaching students to excel academically that makes RJC special. And while RJC does many of the things one expects of a high school—academics, athletics, the arts—we also do more. It is the opportunity above and beyond the regular school day that makes our school community unique. We want to challenge, encourage and equip our students to be the best that God created them to be.

Some of the ways that this happens is through our spiritual class retreats, Spiritual Life Day and Alternative Learning and Service Opportunities (ALSO). Through these programs, students begin to understand the causes of inequity and to become enlightened witnesses, rather than passive observers. They go on to make a difference in their churches, communities and the world.

Geraldine Balzer-Peters is the chair of the Rosthern Junior College board; Gail Schellenberg is the school’s principal.

Rosthern Junior College students put their imaginations to work on an international service learning trip in support of a community in Guatemala.

Every year, Rosthern Junior College staff and students from Saskatchewan partner with Habitat for Humanity to assist in the construction of homes for needy families.

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