I recently had the opportunity to watch a video of a rare scene. The video showed a crab molting out of its exoskeleton. It is rare for humans to observe this process because as the crab outgrows its outer shell and needs to cast it off, it enters an extremely vulnerable state as it struggles to remove the shell that it no longer needs and moves into a new phase with its larger exoskeleton. This process takes time and is usually performed in solitude at the bottom of the ocean.
As I watched the video, I couldn’t help but notice some similarities between the crab molting and the transition to life in middle school. It is a time of natural and necessary growth, it takes time and can be uncomfortable, and it requires removing what is outgrown in order to fully experience the new.
For parents and students who are preparing to make the transition to our middle school this year I have three words of encouragement as you begin this time of transition. The first is to be flexible. It isn’t always easy to shed the things we have outgrown and move into the new path ahead. For students, sixth grade will be a time where they are expected to be more independent. For parents, encouraging and supporting your children as they take on greater ownership in their learning is important. Adjusting to these new expectations requires flexibility.
The second word of encouragement for students is to be patient in the process. Just as it takes time for the crab to shed its exoskeleton, it may take time to become familiar with their new schedule as well as new teachers and their own expectations. It may take time, but students will fall into their new routine, and they will enjoy the many opportunities in middle school including new friendships, retreats, sports, socials, and field trips.
The final word of encouragement for students is, like the crab in the middle of molting, there will be vulnerability. Please ask for help. All of the teachers in the middle school team are eager to help students and parents through this transition. Christian Heritage has a warm community of parents and a PTL who want to support parents and students and welcome you all to the middle school community.
This spring the Middle School Team is also preparing to welcome our rising sixth graders to our program. We recognize that this time of transition can bring many different emotions. As we partner with our fifth grade teachers to prepare transition events for the rising middle school students we hope to replace worry or fear with a sense of excitement for the upcoming transition.
In the coming months there will be four different events for rising sixth graders each with the purpose of building a sense of community in the middle school, answering questions the students may have and building relationships between the rising sixth graders, current middle school students, and their teachers.
The first event is the rising 5th grade parent meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 7:45a.m. in the CHS Barn. It’s a chance to hear from faculty about expectations and have any questions answered. Then, there will also be a lunch meeting when fifth graders join the sixth graders for a special question and answer time. The two classes meet together over pizza and the sixth grade students answer specific questions that the fifth graders may have regarding middle school.
Next, the fifth grade class has a visit to the middle school science lab for an experiment. This is a chance for the students to see the lab space where they will have Science class, but also have a chance to meet me and become more familiar with my role not only as their Sixth Grade Science teacher, but also as the Middle School Director.
Finally, students will receive a visit from current Sixth grade teachers to introduce themselves and deliver CHS goodie bags that contain a personal letter written by a current middle school student.
It is our hope as a middle school team that each student and family feel welcome and supported in the middle school community. May this time of molting be one where you don’t feel alone on the bottom of the ocean, but surrounded by a community who encourages you in your growth!
Terry Miller is an alumna of Christian Heritage School. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in education from Taylor University and her Master’s degree in education from Sacred Heart University. She has taught middle school science at CHS for 18 years. This is her third year serving as Middle School Director where she works closely with students, parents and teachers to build the middle school community. She attends Calvary Evangelical Free Church with her husband Jeff and their three children: Ben, Sam and Kate.
One of the most exciting times in a child’s academic career is when they are getting ready to transition from preschool to Kindergarten. The weeks before school starts are filled with the excitement of buying new clothes, backpacks, pencils and crayons galore! But helping your child make a smooth transition into kindergarten can and should begin many months before that first day of school.
GETTING STARTED AT CHS
Here at CHS we believe it is important that parents understand the developmental readiness that should be in place before a child begins in kindergarten. When a child applies for entrance into kindergarten, we provide a brief “Show What You Know” time with one of our kindergarten teachers, in a classroom setting. This brief screening demonstrates to us those kindergarten readiness skills, such as the small muscle control to hold and write with a pencil, the ability to sustain attention, regulate behavior, and express their feelings in words. We will follow up this time with suggestions for what parents can do to help prepare their child for school in the Fall. This first encounter also allows the child to meet a teacher and see the classroom setting during their first experience in the building.
FAMILY SUPPORT AT HOME
Enrollment in kindergarten, at CHS, is just the beginning of the transition to school. There are so many things parents can do at home to help their son or daughter be successful in the year ahead. Children who are ready for kindergarten have developed independence in caring for their personal needs, such as washing their hands, or using the bathroom. They are able to dress themselves and carry out simple one-step instructions. These children have acquired the gross motor skills of balance and coordination through skipping, running, jumping and a variety of gross motor activities. Parents can support the nurturing of these milestones by providing activities at home that stimulate their development.
EXPERIENCES FOR SUCCESS
We encourage our families to have their child engaged in some of the following activities in the months leading up to the start of school to establish a path for success:
- Read to your child every day
- Establish early bedtime routines
- Provide crayons, markers, etc. for creativity
- Provide scissors (supervised) to practice cutting paper
- Provide toys that encourage fine motor development (Play Doh/Legos/Kinetic Sand)
- Limit screen time
- Create opportunities for decision-making or choices (“Do you want to stay up later or have an extra dessert?")
- Play board games that involve counting/turn-taking/partnering (Candy Land/Trouble/etc.)
- Give opportunities for quality time with you (let them share their feelings/thoughts, especially as the start of school approaches)
Finally, you can help your child transition to school by being proactive and reaching out into the school community as much as you can. At CHS we provide a variety of ways for our incoming kindergarten students and their families to connect with other families within the school community. There are open houses in the spring which give you and your child a chance to tour our campus, meet faculty, and administration so that the school becomes a familiar place. We also offer grade-level playdates throughout the summer, so your child can meet new classmates in an unstructured play environment before the start of school. Just before school starts, you and your child will have the opportunity to visit the classroom during a “Meet the Teacher” event. All these opportunities help your child feel comfortable and confident as the first day of school approaches.
The transition to kindergarten is a big change for most children, and they approach it with a mixture of excitement and nerves. But with thoughtful planning and practice at home, you can ensure a smooth transition to kindergarten for your child and yourself.
Lilian Mogle is the lower school principal at CHS. She holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Connecticut and an M.S. in Early Childhood Education from Southern Ct. State University. She has over 30 years of experience in the classroom.
This is my third year here at CHS as Admissions Director. Over the years, the second semester always means a busy enrollment season. I wish you could hear my conversations with parents as they reach out to learn more about CHS. Some of the questions I hear are: “Is this school safe?" “Does this school have an excellent faith-based education?” "How will they prepare my children for life after high school?”
Based on these conservations, I believe these are the 5 most important factors driving prospective parents to Christian Heritage School.
- Biblical Worldview: The most prominent feature at Christian Heritage is our commitment to providing education through a biblically based worldview and to integrate this into our curriculum. We offer students a holistic understanding of various subjects from a Christian perspective. Parents who prioritize a faith-based education for their children find CHS to be a natural choice.
- Safe and Nurturing Environment: Safety and well-being are paramount concerns for parents today. Christian Heritage School excels in creating a safe and nurturing environment for students. Physical safety and security on campus is a high priority. We have security officers that greet and check-in all visitors as well as provide daily routine checks around campus. With a smaller student population, we also foster a sense of community where students feel known and supported by faculty and staff. This close-knit setting contributes to a positive atmosphere conducive to both academic and personal growth.
- Academic Excellence: The distinction of CHS is that our faith in Jesus Christ is the catalyst for excellence in the classroom, whether in the arts, humanities or sciences. A strong academic foundation has attracted parents seeking a well-rounded education for their children. Rigorous academic programs challenge students to reach their full potential. The college-prep focus is a draw for prospective families with options to earn dual-enrollment credit. Students gain credit for high school and college at the same time with courses such as UConn Biology, which are led by teachers who are adjunct professors.
- Smaller Classes: The advantage of smaller class sizes is a significant draw for many parents. This allows for more individualized attention, enabling teachers to tailor their instruction to the unique needs of each student. This personalized approach enhances the overall learning experience and contributes to better academic outcomes.
- Values and Morals: At our core, we are committed to instilling strong values and morals in each student. We seek to develop Christ-like attributes of faith, service, character and leadership, which enables students beyond the classroom.
During my conversations with prospective parents, I love to share my personal experience of bringing our children to CHS. For years, we were having to re-train our children when they got home from school because they were being taught a curriculum that wasn't aligned with our values. We had to constantly clarify to them what God says and what our family believes verses what they were being told at school. Now here at CHS, we have full confidence that what we believe and teach our children at home is being reinforced at school. My hope is, that my experience reinforces and affirms to parents that CHS is where God has been leading them.
If you, or anyone you know, are interested in learning more about Christian Heritage School, please join us at our next Open House, Saturday, February 24, at 2:00 p.m. To register, click here.
Erin Aiken is the Director of Admissions at Christian Heritage School. She grew up in Kansas and came to the Northeast twenty-two years ago after completing her Bachelors in Biblical Studies and Christian Leadership in Houston, Texas. She has been at CHS for over 4 years and truly enjoys sharing all we have to offer to prospective families. Erin lives in Trumbull with her husband Brian, daughter Shiloh and son Beckett and attends Calvary Church.
Happy New Year! As I reflect on previous years and focus on the blessings God has provided I realized I am living my dream. My husband asked me a few years back when we were living in Minnesota with no plans to move, “What is your dream job?” I quickly responded, “To be the school nurse at CHS.” Here I am! I never thought it would be a reality. God has thrown many peaks and valleys along the way, but HE made a way to this dream becoming a reality. It is a pleasure to serve the CHS community in this capacity. Thank you for entrusting your children to CHS for education and so much more.
As we enter the new year we continue to be in the middle or our cold and flu season. Sometimes it is hard to know if you should stay home from work/school and when to go to the doctor. Please review our guide via this link: “Is My Child Well Enough To Go To School?” This provides helpful insight into when to keep your student home. When in doubt please keep your student home so they can fully recover and prevent sharing their illness with others.
Prior to Christmas vacation, I saw lots of students with stomach bugs and respiratory infections. So many have had a cough that has lasted weeks. I pray the break has given everyone a chance to rest and recover.
Nurse MJ tip: Hand sanitizer can be great when soap and water are unavailable, BUT soap and warm water to wash hands continues to be the gold standard for handwashing. Hand sanitizer DOES NOT work against most viruses that cause “the stomach bug.”
The flu, a cold, allergies, covid and asthma can all look very similar. Here’s a helpful chart to guide you through various symptoms.
I look forward to seeing God work at CHS in the hearts of our community in the coming year. Happy New Year!
Merry Joy Olson is the School Nurse here at CHS. She has been a Registered Nurse for 30 years. Most of her career has been in oncology, but she transitioned to school health in 2012. This is Merry Joy’s 3rd year as the school nurse for Christian Heritage. She cares for students in grades K-12, helping to maintain the health of the school community. The favorite part of her job is praying with students when they are not feeling well or are feeling down.
Much has been made of the conflict between science and Christianity, but the reality is that many of the greatest scientists believed in a Creator and were Christians. As Paul Davies, an agnostic scientist, has noted, "The early scientists were all deeply religious, and they believe that in doing their science they were uncovering God's handiwork…." 1 So in an authentic sense, by studying science, we grow in our understanding of the greatness, power, and love of our God because the universe He has made is spectacular and fills us with awe. As David writes in Psalm 19:1-2, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge." Moreover, when we consider the habitat God has crafted for human life here on Earth, God's love is made manifest in our lives. In my personal faith journey, as I have grown in my understanding of the laws of physics, the fine-tuning of the universe, and the mechanisms and processes of life, I have grown correspondingly in my love and reverence for God.
So, for our students, the study of science is the opportunity to engage in their own self-discovery of the greatness of our God revealed in all that he has made. But the study of science has many other benefits. It is a powerful tool for developing intellect and reasoning skills, and it is an engine of human advancement that has provided technology and many benefits, comfort, and longevity to our lives. At CHS, students study three main scientific disciplines: biology, chemistry, and physics. Many students take advantage of our dual enrollment college-level courses in physics and biology. Electives, including anatomy and physiology, astronomy, and engineering design with 3D printing, round out our offerings.
Our annual science and engineering fair has proven to be an excellent vehicle for allowing our students to engage in guided scientific exploration of their own. Students begin by finding an area of interest and formulating a hypothesis or design goal. They then proceed to complete their project over ten weeks. Along the way, students must meet milestones and produce experimental results, scientific conclusions, and a final report, culminating in a presentation to knowledgeable judges. Thus, our science fair is one of the best ways for our students to learn how science and engineering are conducted in the real world, how to explain their work, and how to make presentations. With the science fair, opportunities for developing essential life skills abound.
Since 2012, CHS has competed for cash, prizes, and scholarships at the Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair hosted each year in March by Quinnipiac University, where about 500 of the best projects statewide are judged by highly qualified judges with backgrounds in science, engineering, research, and academics. The results our students have achieved are awe-inspiring. Each year, our students have garnered significant cash awards ranging from $25 gift cards to $500 cash awards, numerous plaques, trophies, and medallions, and several large college scholarships. The University of New Haven awarded one scholarship to Taryn Marshall for $80,000 over four years. Students who entered their CHS science projects into other state and national competitions have also achieved notable results. Rachel Brooks entered her CHS junior science fair project into the Connecticut Junior Science and Humanities Symposium and was awarded first place. Amazing as it sounds, Rachel submitted her work to the prestigious medical journal Rheumatology (the official journal of the British Society for Rheumatology published by Oxford University Press), which published it on January 7, 2021! Rachel went on to study at Princeton University. The following year, Benjamin Li, one of our brilliant Chinese exchange students, submitted his work to the Regeneron Science Talent Search and was named a Regeneron STS Scholar for 2022, an award given to only 300 students nationwide. Benjamin now studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Our CHS Science Fair engages students in the hands-on study of God's glorious creation. It cultivates taking initiative, reasoning skills, and perseverance, all things that can be used to bring glory to our God. Moreover, it encourages our students to pursue careers in science and science-related fields, medicine, and the many engineering disciplines, all with the enthusiastic encouragement of their CHS science teachers along the way. To God be the glory!
1 "Faith and Reason," program transcript, PBS, accessed December 1, 2023, https://www.pbs.org/faithandreason/transcript/margaret-frame.html.
Daniel Cote is the Science Department Chair at CHS. He teaches science, philosophy, and apologetics. He has a passion for encouraging students to consider science as a career and has been doing so at CHS since 2009. He is also a pastor and the founder of Multimedia Apologetics, an apologetics website ministry explaining and defending Christianity whose primary goal is evangelism. He greatly appreciates the opportunity to teach apologetics to CHS seniors. He holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maine, an MS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Bridgeport, a Master of Ministry in Apologetics from Southern Evangelical Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry in Theology and Apologetics from Liberty University. Dan is the author of Jesus Is God and Savior: How Prophecy, Science, and History Affirm the Truth of Christianity.