A new year offers new beginnings. This is certainly true for the new Cloverdale campus of Surrey Christian School (SCS), which joined the Fleetwood and Secondary campuses under one umbrella January 1.
The new campus (kindergarten to grade 7) has had its second name change in four years, but its identity, based on a rich history of quality Christian education, student care and community involvement, remains unchanged.
Founded in 1956 by Zion Lutheran Church, the school operated as Zion Lutheran School for almost six decades, until it became Cloverdale Christian – to encourage broader community engagement – and now Surrey Christian, Cloverdale Campus.
SCS superintendent Dave Loewen explains that the school was always meant to be not just for kids of Zion’s church families, but also for community kids; it had adopted open enrollment from its inception.
A welcome invitation
Today, fewer than half the 200 students come from the church’s families, and up to one-third have no church background.
“The school’s vision is to serve the community well, to provide quality Christian education for whoever wants it,” Loewen says. “Often people come because they may have grown up in the faith tradition and they’re not sure where that is for them now, but they want their children to have those core values that they grew up with.”
He adds that the school’s culture is compelling – the students feel safe, class sizes are smaller, children receive considerable attention with the teacher/student ratio. The children are fully known – not just in their academic ability, but according to their whole persona.
The student demographic of Cloverdale campus is becoming more ethnically diverse – much like the other SCS campuses, welcoming students from all over the world, many of them first generation Canadians. Similar characteristics and vision of the two schools seemed to make this merge a good fit, even down to the delightful connection that both schools’ teams are called ‘Falcons.’
Although no longer operated by Zion Lutheran Church, the school, built as an extension of the church, is bright and spacious. A partnership with SCS, as opposed to merely a tenant/landlord relationship, has developed through the transition that has been taking place for the last few years.
The seniors’ complex on the same property allows intergenerational relationships, which, according to Loewen, “is a real gift . . . this building almost runs like a bit of a community centre . . . every evening there’s stuff happening here.”
Even at midday, as we walk through the school’s open common area, seniors are chatting and having coffee. The SCS program includes intergenerational projects, giving opportunity for students and seniors to become acquainted and appreciate each other.
Fully equipped learning environment
Classrooms are ample and appealing in this well-appointed facility. A spacious library invites students to develop a love for reading, and there is a welcoming chapel, plus areas for creativity, including music. SCS Cloverdale campus includes a full size gymnasium also used for regular community recreation.
Loewen speaks about a group of community men, regular users of the facility who made the decision to contribute significantly to the need for new lights in the gym. He relates the story as a clear indicator of community tie-in. Outdoors is a generous playground and huge soccer field (with all-weather turf).
Loewen is obviously passionate about the school’s relationship with their neighbours. Drop-in basketball and ESL are just two of the various activities offered at the school on weeknights. He reasons that if someone of the Sikh, or any other faith, lives three houses down, why should they not benefit from the school’s presence?
Regarding Christian schools, says Loewen, “The question for me is, ‘if you leave, would anybody care? ‘Would the neighbourhood be glad you’re gone, because you’re a nuisance, or would they not notice, or would they be sad because they benefitted?” From an outsider’s point of view, it seems that the Cloverdale campus falls into the latter category.
The Cloverdale campus is located at 5950 – 179 Street. The elementary and secondary campuses are both in the Fleetwood area, at 8888 – 162 Street and 15353 – 92 Avenue respectively.
This article first appeared in The Light Magazine and is re-posted by permission.
Two other members of the Society of Christian Schools are looking forward to major changes this year: