Monday morning begins in the usual way at College Park Elementary School. The bell rings at 8:20 am and the huddled masses enter the building. One would think that CPES is just your typical Seventh-Day Adventist Elementary school, but once inside the building you might be surprised. It’s not the layout of the school, it’s not the building structure, it’s not that we cover a different curriculum that any of our sister schools. What is unique about CPES is the connection we have with our churches and our pastors. We have four constituent churches in the area, so you would expect some pastoral involvement. People may say that pastors visiting their local SDA school is not uncommon, but here is why our story is so unique.
Pastor Antonio Bueno of the Bowmanville Seventh-Day Adventist church realized the importance of the church and the school working together. He took the initiative and met with a number of the pastors in the area. He wanted the pastors to be involved in a way like never before. The response from the pastors was overwhelming. As a result of that first meeting, 10 pastors are now actively involved in the school. The pastoral break down is like this: 6 from our constituent churches and 4 from outside of their current area. Each pastor has adopted a class and once a week a class pastor comes to their class and worships with the students. Some play an instrument and sing songs; some tell stories from their childhood or share a bible story, and still others get their students to act out bible skits and actively participate in the worship. The interaction has built trust and a sense of community between the pastors and their classes.
The pastors are also assigned a month end assembly where they share a worship talk with the entire student body, staff and any visitors. One could say, that “this is far more than expected”, but it is not the end of the pastoral involvement. Each pastor realized that it is not just the students who need spiritual food, so on a two week rotation the 10 pastors come and worship with the staff. The staff are ministered to by one of the pastors between 8:00 am-8:20 am five days a week.
The teachers and students agree; the pastors coming into the school has been a blessing to all. Some of the pastors have started bible studies with specific grades and now meet once a week after school. When you think about it, the school is a mission field for teachers and pastors to introduce each student to Jesus. We are working to help all of the students find Jesus and personally choose to follow Him. The project, which started out as pastors coming in a few times a month to worship with a class, has grown into this amazing, Holy Spirit led endeavour. God is moving in a most wonderful and powerful way. At a time when we need the Lord more than ever it’s comforting to know that God has a plan for his children.
From the start, we at College Park Elementary School have felt that the Lord’s leading. From our early beginnings on the campus of Kingsway College we know that Jesus is the Cornerstone of this institution. It only makes sense to have Him in every aspect of each and every day. Students should see Jesus in every subject, at every recess, in every face of the staff who works here. With the pastors so involved and the students so engaged, the Holy Spirit will continue to lead. I am sure that the Guardian Angels of each student and staff member must smile when the school bell rings and a new school day begins.
Jason Perkins is the principal of College Park Elementary in Oshawa Ontario