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Whitinsville Christian School Students Explore Beyond the Classroom

 Whitinsville Christian School (WCS) is embracing the idea of experience-based learning with programs at the
middle school and high school levels. Students are allowed to explore their own areas of interest through
Guided Independent Study and Senior Capstone Projects.

Open to all middle school students, Guided Independent Study (GIS) is an elective class that was introduced in
the 2015-16 academic year. Participating students identify a project in an area they feel passionate about, that
they don’t already know a great deal about, and that they believe the results of which can have an impact on
others. “One of our goals at Whitinsville Christian School is intrinsic learning. We want our students to love
learning and to see that learning is valuable,” said Mary Dykstra, Middle School Principal and Capstone
Committee Member.

“There is a growing movement in education toward experience-based learning,” said Mark DeWeerd, middle
school teacher and advisor to the Guided Independent Study class. “The idea behind the program is to allow
students to grab onto their own sense of imagination.” As the advisor, Mr. DeWeerd facilitates the class, but
students are also encouraged to have professional mentors. One student is writing a children’s book and has
been able to correspond with author Jane Yolen. “The students are learning to communicate with adults and
advocate for themselves,” said Mr. DeWeerd. Other student projects include a basketball shoe ranking app that
was recently given the go-ahead from Apple and the production of a smartphone stand using an online CAD
program and the school’s 3D printer.

During their senior year, students are offered the choice of writing a research paper or completing a Senior
Capstone Project, a program launched five years ago. Between 10-15% of students choose to complete a
Capstone Project. “It allows kids to go pretty much anywhere they want to go with a project. Nothing matches
the joy and satisfaction they get,” said Chris Vander Baan, High School Principal and Capstone Committee

The Capstone Project must be feasible, demonstrate a learning stretch, be something for which they have a
passion, and have value, according to Mrs. Dykstra. Unlike GIS, all work is completed outside of class time.
Some of this year’s projects include the production of a middle school musical, the publication of a cookbook
with all proceeds benefiting the Northbridge Food Pantry, establishing a WCS DECA club, and the composition of
a three-movement piano piece. “Both Guided Independent Study and the Capstone Project are great curricular
additions to WCS,” said Mrs. Dykstra.
Experience Based Learning 5 Angela EpplettExperience Based Learning 4 Andrew Baker

Strings Celebrates 35th Anniversary

The Whitinsville Christian School Strings Program recently celebrated its 35th anniversary at Valley Chapel in Uxbridge with more than 80 musicians comprised of current students, alumni, and teachers, and an audience of over 300. The finale featured rousing orchestral favorites Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 by J.S. Bach, Hoedown by Aaron Copland, and Pirates of the Caribbean by Klaus Badelt.

 I had such a great time yesterday going back to the 35th anniversary of the Whitinsville Christian School strings program that I grew up in,” said one alum in attendance. “In 20 years of teaching in 3 different states, I have never come across another strings program of this caliber. I want you to know that when I teach, this is what I dream of. It can be done and it is an amazing way to grow up with music!”

 The WCS Strings Program began in 1981 and has as its mission "to glorify God through music by working together to develop Christian character and gifts to joyfully serve others." Using the Suzuki Method of instruction, students learn to play the violin, viola, or cello, and enjoy many performance opportunities throughout the year, including concerts, recitals, and community events. Strings quartets are often invited to play at weddings, parties, and other functions. A select orchestra goes on tour every other year, with past tour ensembles traveling throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and England.

"The Strings program has been a vital part of WCS, offering not only music lessons but life lessons that extend into an appreciation for others, growth in discipline, being part of a team, excellence, and a deep appreciation for the gifts God has given," said Lance Engbers, Headmaster at Whitinsville Christian School.
Strings 35th


WCS Tour Choir to Hold Preview Concert

The Whitinsville Christian School Tour Choir will perform in an evening preview concert at Valley Chapel in Uxbridge, MA, on Sunday, March 6, at 6 p.m. Following the concert, light refreshments and a reception will be held in the church cafe.

The special concert is in preparation for the selective choir’s performance tour of New York City and New Jersey during Patriots’ Day weekend, April 15-18, 2016. The March 6 performance will feature the choir’s tour repertoire with additional performances by the school’s Encore vocal ensemble.

According to Joshua Lawson, WCS choir director, the biennial tour provides an opportunity for students “to glorify God with their gifts of singing and worship in a different community setting and through outreach activities pursued at the various locations.” Recent tours have taken the choir to Philadelphia, PA, and Washington, D.C.

Admission is free to the concert on March 6, but donations will be accepted to offset the choir’s travel expenses in April. The public is invited to come and hear the voices that State Senator Ryan Fattman recently called “the pride of the Blackstone Valley.” Valley Chapel is located at 14 Hunter Road in Uxbridge, just off of Rt. 16.

Katelyn B. Signs Letter of Intent

Whitinsville Christian High School senior Katelyn B. recently signed a letter of intent to play volleyball beginning in the fall of 2016 for Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, IL. Katelyn was selected the Dual Valley Conference girls volleyball MVP last fall, and is a member of the basketball team, band, choir, and National Honor Society at WCHS.

Katelyn’s coach, Trinity alum Kris VandenAkker, said of her decision, “Katelyn has worked extremely hard to get to this point. I am very happy for her to have an opportunity to play the sport she is so passionate about at the next level, especially at my alma mater. The signing is a great way for her to finish off a great season. To God alone be the glory!”
Katelyn Baker Family Rev