Incoming news from the churches has been dwindling a little lately; so let’s try some from the schools. You probably know that Hope Protestant Reformed School, of Grand Rapids, looks considerably different than it did a year ago at this time. A building program has resulted in another classroom, a gym, kitchen, and a very attractive office area. In fact, the whole new addition is extremely attractive. Mr. John Buiter, the school principal, writes that he has “received numerous remarks about the ‘new appearance’ of our school because of the new front, landscaping, parking lot, and sidewalks.” He adds that, “these things do not change the Biblical foundation of our instruction, but they make the working out of our tasks more efficient and pleasant.”
Part of their building program was necessitated by an expanding enrollment. Their 1st grade class this year consisted of no less than forty students. That exceeds the optimum size for any grade, but particularly for the1st grade, with its reading instruction. So they split the grade into two separate classes, which meant, of course, that they needed another classroom. That’s no doubt a “first” for our schools. We’ve had to double up classes plenty of times in the past; but here, for the first time, it became necessary to have two sections of the same grade!
Their new gym will make it unnecessary for the students to walk to Hope Church every time they have a chapel or an assembly. It will also make a real physical education program possible. In the same issue of the Hope “Highlights” from which we just quoted, Mr. Buiter writes, “This room is much appreciated by students and staff. The rainy days of September did not stop our physical education program, we simply moved indoors. A noon hour intramural program has already begun with a basketball free-throw tournament.”
Hope’s teachers were not the only ones to enjoy the new facilities. The Protestant Reformed Teachers’ Institute held its annual Convention at that school on Oct. 8 and 9. Perhaps we could pass on a little information about the Convention. The schools represented were Adams, Covenant, Hope, and Souih Holland. A convention of this sort provides for the teachers much opportunity for professional growth and development. The teachers were able to learn from a variety of sources. A forum on “The Christian and, Ecology” included Prof. H. Hanko and Mr. T. Newhof, Jr. as speakers. And a symposium on “Interscholastic Athletics” again included parents—Mr. D. Meulenberg and Mr. J. Huisken. Topics of a more academic nature were, of course, introduced by the teachers. All in all, the convention was a very enjoyable and exceedingly profitable experience for those who attended.
There’s another school about which we have some old news. In fact, it’s been so long ago, that even those of you who attended Seminary Night will, likely, find that this reads almost like news. It was held in Hope Church (Grand Rapids) on Sept. 9. The fact that these convocation exercises were held, was not at all unusual. The Seminary professors, the students, and the members of the Theological School Committee meet at the beginning of every school year to “invoke God’s blessing upon the school, its staff, and its student body.” But in the past it was always held, according to Rev. Schipper, in his introductory remarks, “down under the earth at the corner of Fuller and Franklin.” This year, however, the School Committee decided to invite all of our people to share this experience with them.
Rev. Schipper also had a few words concerning the professors. He mentioned that few people are really aware of their “Herculean task,” of their 14-16 hour days. He was happy for the opportunity to give a public expression of appreciation for them, and of thankfulness that God “has provided two theological giants” to instruct our prospective ministers.
Prof. Hanko was the next speaker to address the audience. He pointed out that the students also put in 14-16 hour days. But, he added, the students must learn in the seminary to work hard, because the fact is that the study of the Word of God requires hard work. “There’s no room in our parsonages for lazy men.”
Mr. Ron VanOverloop, second year Seminary student, was the next speaker. He took note of the fact that he had a rather rare opportunity to, as a student, give voice to his feelings. But, he added, “Notice the care and precision with which the program was prepared. There’s a professor immediately preceding and immediately following my speech, so I dare not say anything wrong.” He had no intention, of course, of saying anything wrong. He remarked, for one thing, about the rewarding experience he and the other seminary students had had as practice preachers during the summer months—in spite of the fact that their sermons had to be submitted to the professors for approval, and were returned with enough red ink to necessitate some major reworking.
The professor “immediately following” was Prof. Hoeksema. His task, as Rector of the Seminary, was to “address the student body, drawing from the Word of God comfort, encouragement, and direction for the work of the coming school year.”
Since this particular school merits our love and interest, it was certainly a privilege, for all present, to be able to share in its opening exercises.