Focus On Education

Students relieved and excited to be back at school

A grade 11 chemistry class meets in Rockway’s courtyard, as students return to in-person learning. (Photo courtesy of Rockway Mennonite Collegiate)

UMEI students take part in community-building activities at the beginning of the new school year. (Photo courtesy of UMEI Christian High School)

Rockway student council members drum up some school spirit for the start of the new school year. (Photo courtesy of Rockway Mennonite Collegiate)

UMEI students participate in a community building exercise. (Photo courtesy of UMEI Christian High School)

Faculty, staff and students are excited to be back in person at Mennonite schools in Ontario. To allow for a safe return to campus, they are committed to following local and provincial health guidelines while they prioritize finding ways to create a sense of community and connection.

Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont.

RJC students return to overnight class retreats

Lucas Epp, Braden Martens-Funk and Tyreese Hildebrandt, Grade 10 sudents at RJC High School, enjoy their retreat activities. (Photo by Hugo Malan)

There is much to be grateful for as a new year begins at RJC High School. With faithful constituent support, two consecutive years of increased enrolment, and the return of inter-collegiate athletics and choral programs, the energy among students and staff is high.

The journey back to Menno Simons Christian School

Dayle Vienneau, a former teacher at Menno Simons Christian School in Calgary, has returned to take the position of principal. (Menno Simons Christian School photo)

For Dayle Vienneau, who has been appointed principal for Menno Simons Christian School in Calgary, the road back to the school has not been a straight path, but definitely a God-led one. She began her journey to Menno Simons in June 2005, to fill a French and language arts maternity leave, and she stayed for 10 years.

CBC holds fall ceremony for 2021 grads

Columbia Bible College students were finally able to celebrate their 2021 graduation in September. Graduates included the first class of health-care assistants. (Columbia Bible College photo)

Graduates filed into the Columbia Bible College chapel to receive their diplomas Sept. 18, five months after completing the 2020-2021 academic year. Commencement had been delayed from the spring due to the pandemic. All 2021 graduates had been invited to return to campus for the event, with one-third attending in person. The ceremony was also livestreamed.

Students joyfully return to campus

Students at Conrad Grebel University College plant cloves of garlic to symbolize the importance of community. (Photo by Jen Konkle)

As families arrived for Conrad Grebel University College’s move-in day over the Labour Day weekend, joy was visible in student eyes, even as masks hid their smiles. With waves of move-in times during the day, there was space to safely welcome students, assure parents, and get everyone settled in dorm rooms.

Love does no harm

(Rockway Mennonite Collegiate graphic)

Rockway’s chapel theme for the 2021-2022 school year is “Love does no harm.” This scripture passage from Romans brings us to the core of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. What does it mean to love our neighbour as ourselves? To do no harm to a neighbour?

‘The show must go on’

The Three Wise Men check their map in Menno Simons Christian School’s 2020 virtual Christmas production of The Little Drummer Dude. The performers are not identified as per school policy. (Photo: Ann Pan / Menno Simons Christian School)

The titular Little Drummer Dude performs in Menno Simons Christian School’s virtual Christmas production. The student is not identified as per school policy. (Photo: Ann Pan / Menno Simons Christian School)


Christina Carpenter

Are traditional school productions a thing of the past? Or can the authentic experience still be delivered virtually?

Practising hope

Chris Huebner, associate professor of theology and philosophy, pictured, and his colleagues found ways to enhance online classroom participation at Canadian Mennonite University during the COVID-19 pandemic. Huebner discovered that teaching from the classroom, where he could employ large displays and multiple cameras, allowed both him and his students to read each other’s faces and body language better than when he taught from behind a laptop. (Canadian Mennonite University photo)

People who arrived on the Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) campus last fall were greeted by singing, soaring not through the windows of the music wing, but from outside. In order to create a safe environment during COVID-19 but still continue voice lessons, CMU scheduled them outside.

Rockway raises $25,000 for food drive

Rockway Mennonite Collegiate student council members celebrate in the school parking lot after staging a pie-in-the-face incentive that helped to raise $25,000 for the school’s annual Christmas Food Drive, one way this small school makes a huge impact, according to the student council’s motivational video shown in the food drive kick-off chapel. (Photo by Jo Scott)

Hanneke Isert Bender, co-president of Rockway Mennonite Collegiate’s student council, tosses in the first $20 as she motivates her fellow students to get behind the school’s annual Christmas Food Drive, as a way to ‘put our words and faith into action.’ (Screenshot by Janet Bauman)

The annual Christmas Food Drive at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate is a big deal. It starts in November with a kick-off chapel and fun incentives. Normally, students collect non-perishable food for the House of Friendship, a local organization that provides Christmas food hampers for people living on low income.

Bursary connects students to their faith

Danika Warkentin, one of this year’s recipients of the Mennonite Church Alberta student bursary, is a first-year student at Canadian Mennonite University. (Photo credit: Jeannie Willms)

“Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to attend a Mennonite post-secondary institution,” says Danika Warkentin, one of seven recipients of this year’s Mennonite Church Alberta student bursary.

CBC navigates fall class restart 

Staff member Tina Richardson, left, checks in with CBC President Bryan Born prior to attending chapel service. (Photo by Amy Rinner Waddell)

Life at Columbia Bible College (CBC) looks quite different than it did back in mid-March, when classes suddenly ended and students were sent home due to COVID-19. After six months of inactivity, CBC has reopened for in-person classes. Staff were busy over the summer preparing the campus for a safe return, balancing residence life, instructional space, and general community living.

MWC and AMBS partnership opens access to Anabaptist education

César García, MWC’s general secretary (left) and David Boshart, AMBS's incoming president (right)

Mennonites around the globe yearn for Anabaptist theological education, identity formation and leadership development, but attending an Anabaptist-related college, university or seminary has not been possible for Mennonites in many countries. A new partnership has been designed to respond to this need.

RJC: Becoming a missional school

RJC students increasingly come from non-Mennonite families. Rather than seeing this as a problem, principal Ryan Wood sees it as an opportunity. (Photo from RJC’s Facebook page)

Rosthern Junior College has been a steadfast presence in Mennonite education for almost 115 years. However, decreasing enrolment has prompted the school’s administration and board to rethink what the school is all about.

Strangers become friends at college

Katrina Steckle, left, is pictured with her first-year Grebel roommate, Madeleine Graham. (Photo courtesy of Katrina Steckle)

My older sister met her best friend at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ont., in 2013. They were paired together as roommates for their first year, and lived together in their second and fourth years as well. I remember my sister coming home from school on the weekends and telling amazing stories about the fun she and her roommate were having at Grebel.

Their stories showed me how to be brave

Hannah Larson of Vancouver, Wash., serves with SALT in Siliguri, India, with the West Bengal Voluntary Health Association. (Photo courtesy of Hannah Larson)

In the last few months with Mennonite Central Committee’s Serving and Learning Together program, I have thought often about how we all use stories to communicate. And how sometimes I have found myself wishing I could politely use a bookmark to pause someone’s story when I wasn’t that interested in it. 

Lessons from Narnia

Peter (Zach Pearce), left, the White Witch (Ella Hinz), and Aslan (Charlie Krahn) battle for control of the land of Narnia in Menno Simons Christian School’s performance of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe earlier this year. (Menno Simons Christian School photo)

Ella Hinz is pictured in her ‘White Witch’ makeup and costume. (Menno Simons Christian School photo)

Peter (Zach Pearce), left, the White Witch (Ella Hinz), and Aslan (Charlie Krahn) battle for control of the land of Narnia in Menno Simons Christian School’s performance of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe earlier this year. (Menno Simons Christian School photo)

Menno Simons Christian School put on an amazing performance of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe earlier this year. 

It’s an adventurous story about four children who find themselves travelling through a frozen land to reach a great lion named Aslan while being hunted by an evil witch.

Embodying knowledge

Workshop participants in Petitcodiac, N.B., reflect on community development ministries by thinking with their hands—and with their whole bodies—as they weave bands of cloth together. (Anabaptist Learning Workshop photo)

Knowledge is truly amazing. When you really know something, it can light you up, it can discombobulate you, it can put you in touch with your body or it can make you feel connected to a much bigger body.

Seminary short course offers congregations tools for engaging conflict

Betty Pries, a conflict management specialist based in Waterloo, Ont., leads an online short course of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary as a sessional faculty member. (Photo courtesy of BettyPries.ca)

Betty Pries, a conflict management specialist based in Waterloo, Ont., provides mediation, coaching and consulting services for businesses, nonprofit organizations, governments and congregations. For six weeks each year, she also leads an online short course of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) as a sessional faculty member.

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