Vancouver Christian School (http://vancouverchristian.org)
The idea of a Christian school in Vancouver was first conceived by a group of Dutch immigrants, with Reformed religious roots, in the late 1930s. The school, first know as “Calvin Christian School” opened its doors in 1949 making it the first Christian school of its kind in B.C.
Enrolment quickly expanded as many Dutch immigrants arrived in the decade after World War II. Shortly after its opening, two new schools branched off into Burnaby (John Knox) and Richmond (Richmond Christian School).
In 1965, the school changed its name to Vancouver Christian School. Property was purchased on Killarney Street where it remained as a K‐7 school until the late 1980s. During the 1960s and ‘70s, the school population diversified as it developed into a truly interdenominational school representing many churches and cultures.
In 1978, Vancouver Christian expanded to include a regional high school by opening a grade 8‐12 program on a new site on Mons Avenue. In 1988, after 10 years of operation, the high school closed its doors with the promise that the dream of a high school would be developed again over time. The Killarney property was sold and the K‐7 school moved to the Mons site.
By 1991, Vancouver Christian had developed the first middle school in British Columbia (grades 6‐8) and had also begun to add a junior high program up to grade 10, in fulfillment of promises made when the high school had closed down in 1988. Although overall the school flourished during this decade, it remained difficult to sustain the junior high program due to the continuing exit of students from grades 7 and 8 into the public school system.
The first decade of the new millennium saw huge enrolment growth at Vancouver Christian and it implemented a full double‐track system.
Vancouver Christian has operated in its current location for over 20 years and has undergone several small renovations and additions over the past 10 years. The current enrolment of 370 reflects consistent growth over the past years in spite of declining enrolment trends in the city of Vancouver.
Vancouver Christian holds membership with the Society of Christian Schools in BC (SCSBC),the Federation of Independent School Associations (FISA), Christian Schools International (CSI), Christian Stewardship Services (CSS), and the Christian Teachers’ Association of BC (CTABC).
John Knox Christian School (http://johnknoxbc.org)
In 1955, John Knox Christian School opened its doors as a new Christian elementary school serving the New Westminster and Burnaby areas. In the school’s first year of operation it had 65 students in 4 classrooms, with 2 teachers and a principal.
In the 1960s, a second wing with 5 classrooms was added to the school to accommodate more students. Physical Education classes were held in a church meeting hall across the street.
In 1964, a regional Christian high school known as Fraser Valley Christian High School was formed under a separate society, and initially operated on the John Knox campus. Fraser Valley Christian High School moved into a new building in Surrey in 1966.
As the John Knox School grew in the 1970s, and many new students came from the Surrey area, a decision was made to start a new elementary campus across the Fraser River. The Surrey campus opened in 1978 and was known as “John Knox Christian School – Surrey”. In 1986 the Surrey campus formed its own society and became known as “Surrey Christian School”.
Back in Burnaby, John Knox underwent another major expansion in 1995 adding a gym, library, two additional classrooms and administrative offices.
In 2004, under pressure from an expanding student population, John Knox moved its grades 5 to 7 to a new campus in Burnaby leased from Burnaby School District. The leased campus served to relieve the John Knox School of its immediate space issues, and also provided opportunity to revisit a proposal to start a new Christian high school in cooperation with the Vancouver Christian School.
In 2006, the Strategic Planning Committee of John Knox envisioned a new building for the school, and in 2008, a 3‐year capital campaign was launched, the old building was removed and students and staff were temporarily divided between a vacant elementary school in Coquitlam, and the leased Burnaby campus. Construction of the new school began in 2009 and was completed in February 2010, on time and on budget. On March 1, 2010 students and staff moved into the new building. In May 2010 the building was dedicated to God’s glory.
For the 2011‐2012 school year John Knox was blessed with 358 students in Grades K ‐ 7, representing 100% capacity for the new building, and over 40 staff. More than 70 churches and a multitude of cultures are represented in the student population.
John Knox holds membership with the Society of Christian Schools in BC (SCSBC),the Federation of Independent School Associations (FISA), Christian Schools International (CSI), Christian Stewardship Services (CSS), and the Christian Teachers’ Association of BC (CTABC).
Carver Christian High School (http://carverchristian.org)
Around the turn of the millennium, as other Christian schools were developing into K ‐ 12 schools, Vancouver Christian and John Knox began to consider again the idea of developing a regional high school in the Vancouver‐Burnaby area. In September 2001, a meeting was held bringing together representatives from John Knox and Vancouver Christian to discuss the possibility. In November 2001, this group met again, now as the “Regional Christian High School Task Force”, and adopted a mandate to “further facilitate the discussion, visioning and planning needed to develop a regional Christian High School in greater Vancouver”. The Task Force established committees to study governance, curriculum, land search, and development with a view to begin operating the new high school in the fall of 2005.
In 2003, a naming contest was initiated and the new high school was named “Discovery Christian High School”.
By early 2005, Vancouver Christian and John Knox had finalized a Participation Agreement that set out the framework for governance and operation of the high school. The governance structure allowed for the high school to be legally included within Vancouver Christian while financial responsibility was equally shared. In the meantime the name Discovery Christian High School was traded for the name Carver Christian High School.
In September 2005, the vision and hard work of its founders was rewarded when Carver Christian High School opened its doors to welcome 77 students from Grades 9 ‐ 11. A year later, as student enrolment increased, grade 12 was added.
In 2011, in the interest of retaining students who might otherwise go to public school and in the interest of attracting new students Carver expanded its program to include grade 8. John Knox moved its grade 8 students to Carver and Vancouver Christian continued to operate its grade 6 – 8 middle school program.
Carver currently enrolls over 200 students in grades 8 ‐ 12. The school’s success can be seen in many ways, including the dedication of its gifted and passionate staff, the enthusiasm of its students, the post‐secondary achievements of its graduates, the support of its community, and the presence of God in its halls, offices and classrooms. Carver teachers continue to demonstrate commitment to teaching from a Christian perspective, out of a Biblical worldview, and to striving to truly integrate faith and learning in each class.
Carver Christian holds membership with the Society of Christian Schools in BC (SCSBC), the Federation of Independent School Associations (FISA), Christian Schools International (CSI), Christian Stewardship Services (CSS), and the Christian Teachers’ Association of BC (CTABC).
Establishing a unified school system – K through 12
In June 2010 the board of John Knox Christian School and the board of Vancouver Christian School approved the formation of a joint Governance Task Force (the Task Force) to examine and report to the boards on the current governance structure for the 3 schools and on the feasibility for establishing a unified school system for students in K through grade 12 under a newly established society.
The Task Force in a report tabled on January 30, 2011, concluded unanimously that “amalgamation to form a single society will result in the most favourable legal and governance structure to fulfill the communities’ joint vision for a thriving K ‐ 12 Christian education system in Vancouver‐Burnaby.”
The key advantages of amalgamation identified included:
- a simple and efficient governance structure with clear lines of authority and accountability;
- institutionalizing commitment to a regional Christian high school within the community’s core purposes, vision and mission;
- an opportunity to develop and promote a strong, unified identity;
- anticipated long‐term financial savings;
- ability to align and strengthen policies and practices in education and human resources; and
- ability to pool means to access specialized resources.
Subsequent meetings of the societies operating John Knox and Vancouver Christian in April 2012, voted overwhelmingly (94% and 91% respectively) to support the recommendations of the Task Force and move forward towards establishing a unified school system under a newly formed (and yet to be named) K through 12 school operating in the three current campus locations.
Currently the three schools are at different campus locations. At each of their respective campuses, Vancouver Christian and John Knox are enjoying strong elementary enrolment demand, particularly at the kindergarten entry level. Both schools benefit from up‐to‐date and adequate premises and well‐established communities of support, while they continue to grow their base and draw students from new sources.
It is recognized that the high school leased premises at the current location, are not ideal. The lease rate imposes financial constraints and the building is dated and in need of improvement. This reduces efficiency and likely impacts enrolment. The high school’s current location is not central to the area it serves and is removed from major transit corridors. A new facility and location for the high school campus is a high priority and a building committee is actively looking at and analyzing possibilities for new premises.
The board of the newly established society is envisioned to have a broad scope of responsibility. Good governance for a unified school system of 950 students in K through grade 12, operating at three campus locations will ensure the board remains focused on establishing policy for preserving mission and vision as outlined in a strategic plan. Such a governance model will delegate authority to a Superintendent and hold this person exclusively accountable to achieve the organization’s goals identified in the strategic plan.
The Superintendent oversees a leadership team consisting of three campus principals and other administrative personnel providing management common to the three campuses in areas such as Finance, Development, IT, Facilities and Programs.