Kingston Christian School launching long-awaited high school programming

Kingston Christian School on Woodbine Road in Kingston’s West End. Photo via Kingston Christian School website.

In September 2024, Kingston Christian School (KCS) will launch the first step of their new high school programming. KCS has been educating students from junior kindergarten to grade eight for more than 60 years.

Graduates from KCS who want to continue in Christian education commonly travel to Quinte Christian High School, an hour away. However, enrolment has been increasing at area Christian schools, and regional Christian high schools cannot accommodate all the new grade nine students.

“The desire for a Christian high school in Kingston is decades old,” says Jennifer Shoniker, Principal of KCS. “We ourselves have almost doubled in about four years.”

KCS has approximately 140 students. Shoniker mentions that parents are looking for Christian education because of the “individual programs that are more tailored to a student’s learning style.”

“Parents are looking to be involved in their child’s education, even at a secondary level. They want to be partners and have a voice in the child’s education,” she adds.

The KCS board has had Christian high school programming on their strategic plan for two and a half years. The launching of the high school program this fall is thanks to “a lot of community partnerships and just plain old tenacity,” says Shoniker.

The first step of the high school programming will be grade nine classes this September. They will take place in KCS and have one online course per semester. Currently, four grade nine students are enrolled, and recruitment will continue for the next couple months. The goal is to have ten students enrolled.

“The reason why we are putting a green light for four students is because those four students are so committed. They and their families believe in the mission and vision of what we’re trying to build. There’s tremendous interest for grade nine in 2025. In order for that to be viable, we have to start somewhere,” says Shoniker.

“We understand that for some folks this feels like a risk. It’s something new. It doesn’t feel established. But KCS has a 60-year legacy of providing excellent education in the city of Kingston… If we didn’t believe we could do it, then we would have waited.”

To make this new grade nine curriculum, KCS starts with the Ministry of Education curriculum, and then assesses students from within a Christian framework. Toronto District Christian High School has helped with the creation of the grade nine curriculum, as well.

“The philosophy behind the school is that we’re a faith-based foundation… each student has what they need not just to survive, but to thrive, and they’re equipped with gifts. Our journey is to unpack those gifts,” the KCS principal says.

Shoniker mentions something that is distinctive about their high school programming: at the end of every year, each student will make a presentation called ‘Stand and Deliver.’ They will talk about the coursework and their spiritual development to help them determine an occupation and vocation for life.

There are many challenges that come with launching a private Christian high school, especially financial challenges. KCS receives no public funding as it is a private school and registered charity.

“The biggest challenge is the relationship that needs to be cultivated with the ministry,” Shoniker shares. “We need to build those relationships with the ministry and ensure that we are doing things correctly so that we will have a successful inspection.”

Unlike elementary schools, high schools must be inspected, with a costly inspection fee.

“Whether you have four students or 40 or 400, it’s the same fee. Whether you’re teaching one grade or four grades, it’s the same. So we need to fundraise for that so that the few families that are partnering with us don’t bear an inequitable burden,” Shoniker explains.

“We have really amazing teachers that are already qualified to teach intermediate and senior courses. The teacher doesn’t get a proportion of the salary relative to the enrolments, you’re paying them for teaching a course whether it’s to four children or 14… It’s much less flexible at the secondary level. That translates into expense.”

KCS will be fundraising to help cover these costs in the coming months, with events such as a golf tournament on Friday, Aug. 2, 2024, at Loyalist Golf and Country Club. Registration for the fundraising tournament is open until Friday, Jul. 19, 2024.

KCS hopes to launch additional high school grades in the years to come.

“I have a big vision for where this is going to go. My hope is to revisit what we’re doing in two years. In two years, I foresee we will have to do one of two things. We will still be small and still be able to be accommodated on site. But my hope is that we’re full and thriving and that we have a good solid 15 [students] in grade nine and 15 in grade 10. It may go towards even a break-even point financially,” Shoniker details.

“And my elementary school is continuing to grow. So at that point, a new facility might be needed… or a portable… perhaps renting a facility somewhere else in town and having a second satellite site, that’s definitely an option. I would want also to evaluate the partnerships that we have, if we could build partnerships with either businesses or other post secondary institutions within the city. So it’s nebulous.”

For more information on KCS and their new high school programming, visit the Kingston Christian School website.

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