Diamond the Runaway Hamster -Tim Block

It was our privilege as the Grade 1 and 2 CREW to include Diamond, our class Hamster, in our learning journey. Being a Creation Enjoyer and Earth Keeper included caring for the needs of this rascal of a hamster. I asked Diamond to write up a reflection on his experience with us this year. I also asked the students to write about their memories with Diamond.

Diamond Crewzoo’s Year in Review

Hi. My name is Diamond Crewzoo and I am a hamster. I am in charge of the grade 1 and 2 class at Centennial Christian School. I live in a fancy loft equipped with exercise wheel, swing, and my favourite napping spot – a little room at the top of my house. This is not a bad place to spend my days. But, if you can keep a secret, I would like to tell you what I really want.

While most hamsters are happy to laze around day and night feed on copious amounts of hand delivered food, I am more of an adventure hamster. My home feels more like a cage, and I have designs to break free. I want to eat candy, make tonnes of new friends, and explore the wide world!

My favourite time of the week is Friday. Every Friday I get to visit a new home for the weekend. I love playing with the students in their own home. I enjoy getting out of my ‘cage’ to explore new places. The hamster ball is a great way for me to get around. I feel safe from other animals, yet I can race along at top speed. But more importantly, my hosts sometimes give me a chance to escape. And that is when the real fun begins!

The first time I escaped was super fun, but also a little scary. I was at the Thiessen home. They have awesome kids that like to adventure, just like me. They also eat tasty food. The smells at mealtimes made me salivate. During the night I thought I would give escape a try. I chewed through some plastic clasps that were in my knapping room, gave the roof a shove, and wouldn’t you know it, I was free. I had to be careful. The Thiessens have a couple of dogs. I wanted to snack, not become a snack. The mothership of good food came from the oven. I beelined for the oven and managed to find my way into the oven drawer. It was a bonanza of delicious crumbs, and I set too with vigour. Hours passed. I ate, I slept, I ate again. But soon the temperature in the drawer started to get uncomfortably warm. This is the scary part. I couldn’t remember how I had gotten into the drawer. I didn’t know the way out. Was I going to get cooked? And then when I thought there was no hope, the drawer opened, some hands reached down and picked me up. I was put back into my loft, and to be honest, I was happy to be there. The next time I escaped I would not get stuck in an oven!

A few weekends later I was at the Bodenbenders. They have a fun house too. I was itching to get out of my cage and check out their home. They must have a bird feeder because I could smell the bird seed. It smelled good. I wanted. That night I pulled the same trick and was soon out of the cage. It wasn’t hard to follow my nose to the birdseed. After feasting for a few hours my stomach was a little bloated. I had to find a bathroom. I found a nice one and thought I better just stay really close to the toilet. That was where they found me. I was put back into the cage. I learned that I better not over-eat on bird seed the next time I escaped!

As you can see, I am pretty good at escaping, but I’m not great at staying escaped. A few weeks later I had another chance. I was staying at the Laings. All the grade 1 and 2 families are so fun, and this family is no exception. After a day of playing with the kids I was ready for a good rest. But in the night, I woke up feeling restless. My usual trick worked, and soon I was out of the cage and roaming the house. The grandparents had recently visited, and we all know that grandparents mean candy. I headed towards the guest bedroom where they stayed. It didn’t take too much snooping around to catch the scent. Before long I was tucked away in the corner of the bedroom closet with an entire candy necklace to myself. I was in my happy place. As you know with candy necklaces, it’s easy to lose track of time. That was my downfall. I was chewing on a delicious pink candy bead when two hands came out of nowhere and scooped me up.

Just last week I was able to visit the Smith home. With three boys running around, I knew I was in for a good time. My favourite times were after school when the kids were able to give me lots of attention. That’s why I was surprised by what hit me that night. It was about one in the morning. I was doing some lazy laps on the exercise wheel, just stretching out the muscles and reflecting on another great day, when I was hit with a sudden strong urge. What if instead of just wandering around the house, I got myself outside of the house to explore the entire world! It was the call of the wild! This was a call I couldn’t ignore. I was out of the cage in seconds. My nose was sniffing the fresh air and like a Homing Pigeon I let my body move me inexorably towards what turned out to be an open basement window. I was on the floor and the window was way up there, but thankfully I am a good climber and some jackets hanging on a hook were my ‘Everest’. It was an effort, but I survived the climb and soon I was standing on the window ledge, outside the window. I could taste the freedom, the adventure, the unbroken horizon of possibilities. And so, I pulled a ‘candy necklace’; I forgot to think. Instead, I just leapt off the window ledge to embrace my glorious destiny. Hamsters are tough. We can fall a long way down without getting hurt. We are designed with a lot of extra skin and what we like to call protective padding. I just spread eagled in the air and floated down like a leave. As I fell, I was imagining all the tasty treats I would find in the great big world. My reverie was interrupted by a metallic clang. That clang was my body hitting the bottom of a metal bucket. A large metal bucket. ‘Look before you leap’ is a saying I had heard before. Oh, why did I not just take one look down to see where I would land!

And so, I am writing this from inside my loft, my cage, my home – for now. But I would like to think that I am learning, that I am closer to true freedom than ever before. I just must avoid certain temptations like breadcrumbs, bird seed, and candy. And next time I will certainly look before I leap. I have managed to escape four times already. And I am pretty sure the fifth time will be for good.

Some writings about Diamond from the grade 1 and 2 students

“Diamond was at my aunt’s house, and they have a cat and the cat was trying to scratch Diamond and eat him when he was in the cage. We took him out and the cat was looking at him in the hamster ball. But Diamond was safe.” -Imani

“When it was almost supper Diamond woke up, so I decided to feed him. I put lots of seed and one banana chip. By the time he got down he went to get a drink and only ate to get a banana chip. THIS MAN! PICKY EATER!” -Camille

“Diamond is good at escaping, but he can’t escape anymore. That is good. He loves playing in his ball.” -Josiah

“It was my turn to take Diamond. I put Diamond in the Hamster Ball. One day my mom was showering and my dad put Diamond in the bathroom. It scared her so much!” -Jordan

“I have Diamond today and I love him. He is silly and he is cute.” -Amy

“I had the hamster. He loves to play with me. My sister, Addie came out to play. We all played tag. It was getting late. I went home. I ate dinner. I went to sleep. Diamond is so fun!” -Rylan

“To Diamond, from Jackson. I was having fun. I don’t know what I will do without you. Really. I am telling the truth.” -Jackson

“Hi. My name is Diamond. No that’s not you talking. Hi. My name is Luke. I love Diamond but he is very fast. Bye Diamond.” -Luke

“I like Diamond because he walks in a round ball. I hope you have a good day Diamond. You are a goofball like my brother. Do not run away again!” -Lincoln

“When we play he tries to escape my hands, but I’m too fast for him. I move my hands so he can’t escape me.” -Braydon

The Great Outdoors

“For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made…” Romans 1:20 NIV

Once a week, our kindergarten class walks to Howe Creek to learn in and from nature. From dead leaves to new buds, from tiny snails to giant skunk cabbages, from rushing waters to a playful breeze – God can be found in the harmony of it all.




When we use all our senses to experience our surroundings, we not only remember things better (perhaps for journaling later), we also ground ourselves in the present moment, calming anxious or restless minds.


Maybe it is time we all make space to soak in our natural surroundings and experience the sensory symphony of God’s creation.


Possibility Thinking in God’s World – Kimberly Lindsay


For the past three years our concert band has watched in silent wonder if there would ever be another band tour. The thought of when was always present, but the thought of wonder was almost lost. It is this thought of wonder of possibility thinking that I’m writing to you today. The idea that sometimes, just believing in an idea that is greater than yourself is just enough to create a positive change.

It all started in the fall of 2019, when young eager minds began dreaming of a band tour that would take them to Seattle Washington for the spring of 2020. They would work hard for the next two years fundraising for this event. People from all over the city would invest their time, an

d money in fundraising and campaigning for a high school tour. As Covid became more evident in the lives of our community so did the understanding that there would be no tour. And so, it began the journey of wonder. Would there ever be another tour for the students that had worked so hard in their efforts for this dream.

To understand the loss that our class has experienced in the past few years, you must first understand what they have gone through. For the past two years our bands have worked hard learning new music for music festivals that continued to be cancelled. They have had fundraising campaigns for tours that did not happen and had cancelled venues like the Evening of the Arts that celebrated their hard work. As a school we have lamented the absence of these community concerts and the joy that each event brought to our school. To call our program “The Performing Arts”, and yet not perform has been heart breaking for both the students as well as myself.

So, this year when we started planning for our tour, most students didn’t believe that it was going to take place. But God had a plan for this class, and on this journey, He would lead us to trust and be obedient on Him alone.

Proverbs 3:6  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct thy paths.”

The morning that we were to leave students arrived eager to load the buses and get going. Our first day of travelling was quite jovial with roads clear of snow and little traffic along the way. Our morning devotions were focused on making space for God. So, we did, we prayed, and we thank God for allowing the tour to take place. Yet we had no idea the space that God was calling us to have for Him.

The second day of travelling we set off for Edmonton Alberta. The air was crisp and cold, and the darkened sky spoke that winter was not yet over. As we travelled through the mountains it soon became clear that we were in a dangerous winter storm. The icy roads and the blizzardy air kept both the bus as well as my car far apart. As the students slept the chaperones began to pray for our safe travels through the Rockies. Hours later, as we reached Jasper, we would soon learn that both highway routes to Edmonton were closed and had not been open for 24 hours. It would take a miracle for anything to be opened within the next day.


Tired and hungry, the first part of our faith journey as a band had begun. First the storm, now another physical barrier, a road closure. Knowing that help was a phone call away, I quickly phoned Edgar and asked for prayer and guidance. The thought of overnighting on a highway on a bus and vehicle while waiting for the road to be cleared didn’t excite me; nor did the thought of turning back and going into the storm to return home. After council from home, and food in our bellies we prayed for God to create a miracle for us and open the highway system once again.

So off we went waiting to see the next miracle and boy did God deliver. He parted the skies and for us and once again the roads were bare. Soon we passed the site of the closure and continued making our journey into the city.

When we arrived at the hotel, I noticed many new voice mails from King’s University. After a quick phone call, I soon learned that our tour was in jeopardy. All the time spent on creating workshops, concert venues as well as being adjudicated were falling apart as I learned that some of the clinicians were now in self isolation due to Covid-19.

Once again, I brought all the students and chaperones together. I spoke to them about how God was at work, and that we were going to pray for another miracle as God is never in short supply of hearing our prayers and giving us what we need for the day. Within minutes of praying in the front lobby, my phone rang again. This time with great news. Kings had called on the Edmonton orchestra, and there were clinicians that were willing to come to run each clinic.

The next day we arrived with excitement at the university, only to find that one of our students’ instruments was not brought onto the bus. Quickly our chaperone/ bus driver jumped into action. Within minutes he was back from a music store (a block away) with a tenor saxophone in his hand.

There were so many more miracles that happened on our tour; like wallets lost in the Edmonton Mall only to be returned with all the contents in them, phones lost and then found again, and friendships formed. The positive belief in everyday miracles was seen each day and all the students were watching these miracles happen in a tangible way. This is why “possibility thinking” in something bigger than you is so very important. It allows you to trust that God is going to do something BIG!

“Dear God, thank you for allowing us to dream big, and trust in you always!”

Thank you


A big stone was dropped in the middle of our community.  At first, we saw the splash, and then the ripples started:

A father devastated.

A driver traumatized.

A partner and family crushed.

First responders and clean-up crews heartbroken.

A coroner distraught.

Friends inconsolable.

Classmates confused.

Parents at a loss.

A school administration team walking a tightrope while juggling student welfare, teacher welfare and their own welfare.

Teachers challenged to deal with their own grief while holding young hearts in their hands.

Co-workers and clients who depended on a ray of sunshine in a drugstore, now left in the dark.

Community members frozen in grief, as they were reminded of their own tragic losses.

Highway users stranded.  Who missed important appointments?  Who were reliving the trauma of being in an accident in the past?  Who narrowly missed the collision?

And the ripples keep coming…


It is easy to want to sink to the bottom of that dark pool and perhaps surface only once the ripples have subsided. But staying with the pain and the loss and the sorrow this week, this is what we got to see through all of our tears:



Grief counselors listening to trembling voices at school.

Teachers and support staff showing that it’s OK to be vulnerable, it’s OK to not be OK.

Elementary students creating memory walls as they work through their emotions.

High school students having listening circles to voice the feelings that were stirred up by the ripples.

An old dog named Sadie, comforting kids.

A grieving father coming into the classrooms of his children to listen to the memories of their friends and share their burdens.

Parents and supporters bringing delicious meals for teachers as they navigate a week that was never taught during teacher training.

Community members sending flowers, cards, messages and emails, expressing love and support.

Other schools sending coffee, food and heartfelt notes from students.

A bagpiper dad who came for a preschool St. Patrick’s Day tune, but ended up with preschoolers, K-12 students and teachers skipping around him in joyous abandon.

The whole school wearing tie-dye and camo for the last day of school – trademark looks of Kylie and Ashton.

Grace being extended to all and by all.

This stone will always lay at the bottom of our pool and has forever changed our landscape.  We are not the same as before – not as individuals and not as a group. The waters aren’t quiet yet and they might not be for some time, but thank you for being in the water with us: in community, in Christ, in love.



“How does my dog keep me warm?” – Grade 3

In our grade 3 classroom, we began the month of February with a unit on thermal energy. As with most of our units, we start by gathering questions. Questions range from “How does my dog keep me warm?” to “What if we had no sun?” This inquiry process helps us know what students are curious about and where our teaching and learning can take us. As we delve further into the unit, we talk about God’s design for energy and how we use it in good and damaging ways. Students were challenged to be earth keepers of the energy God has given them. Through hands-on experiments and exploration, we discovered that there is order in God’s creation. 

Later in the month the students had the opportunity to apply their understanding of thermal energy with an exciting at-home project. Each student was given the challenge of creating a thermos that would keep tea warm for a period of time. At first, many students felt daunted by this task. When I explained the project to them, I heard exclamations of, “I don’t think I can do this!” and “How will I ever create a thermos?”  However, with time and thought, the students were able to successfully apply their knowledge about insulators, to successfully create their own unique thermoses.  The class was instructed to use an empty soup can, a small container, and to choose their own materials for insulating the can. When the day arrived for the Thermos Challenge, the students eagerly brought their homemade projects to the classroom. The sound of excited children showing off their thermoses and praising each other’s work could be heard all around the classroom that morning.  


When it was time to begin the challenge, I safely poured boiling water into each student’s soup can. Next, the students carefully secured the top of their thermos into place. After 4 hours, it was time to measure the temperature of the water in each can. Every student came to check the temperature on the thermometer that had been placed in their can. After reading the temperature, they colored in their part of the class bar graph. Finally, our class compared the final temperature of the tea in each can, to see which materials kept the tea the warmest. What an excellent learning experience it was!  


At the end of all their hard work, the class enjoyed a cup of peppermint tea together, and shared their reflections on what had worked well in their projects, and what they would do better next time.  Here are some of their reflections: 

Making my thermos was fun because we had to cut a mattress.” 

“I did well making the thermos because I kept the water slightly warm.” 

“I did well because I wrapped a lot of tin foil on the cans and the lid.” 

“I would’ve used insulation but we didn’t and I would have used it because it is built to keep stuff warm.” 

“Making my thermos was hard because it was very wiggly.” 

“I would use different kinds of insulation, like the kind that doesn’t itch.” 

“I would use real insulation because we use it to keep our house warm.” 



Carnaval de CCS! – Lucy Roseboom



Winter is for Carnival! Which is why the Grade 8/9 French class recently put on a “Carnaval de CCS”  for the Grade 1/2 students. The students recreated many activities from this year’s Carnaval de Quebec, including street hockey, a scavenger hunt, learning a popular song about Bonhomme en français, making a Bonhomme replica, ice sculpting, and enjoying la nourriture like poutine, tire d’érable and a special winter drink. Metis finger weaving was also a challenge to learn and even more of a challenge to teach the young ones! But once they had their Bonhomme Effigies, the grade 1/2 students had an exciting day, moving between all the stations.

The sunny winter’s day provided a beautiful backdrop for French to become more than a language – it became a cultural experience. When we get to connect with each other, collaborate to plan activities and then carry them out for the benefit of others, learning goes so much deeper.


This is what the grade 8/9 students had to say…
“J’aime beaucoup le Carnaval de CCS et j’éspère les enfants l’aiment aussi.”
“It was fun to learn about this fascinating culture and to see the kids enjoy it so much.”
“I helped set up and ref multiple games of hockey in the gym and made them fair and enjoyable.”
“Me and my group were working together to teach Gr. 2 how to finger weave.”
“I think I most enjoyed going around with my 1/2 group during the Scavenger hunt and ice sculpting.”

Spontaneous celebrating and beyond! – Jeff Lehman

Long, long ago……way back to last year, December, our grade 6-7 class received some inspiring correspondence from a great distance: a group of individuals all the way across the hall in the Grade 1-2 class. From this connection several great things have quickly gained momentum.

First, in response to the letters we received, the students in Grade 6-7 enthusiastically wrote back and also happily created some elaborate Christmas cards for their new ‘pen pals’ across the hall. When we went to deliver our cards to our new friends in Grade 1-2, they were very happy to see us and receive the cards we made BUT then they spontaneously extended invitations for us to come and stay to play games, build with blocks, read books, draw & colour! We had simply planned to deliver our cards and then return to our class to play games before the Christmas holiday but instead we stayed and had so much fun connecting with the Grade 1-2 class for half an hour. Talk about Community Building!


Since then, we have been having a great time continuing to connect with our friends in Grade 1-2 every other week, enjoying books and art and other activities when we get together on Fridays. The best part of all this is how it has been mostly student led. In the weeks just before and after Christmas I heard many students asking about when we would have a chance to do reading buddies with a younger class. There is great enthusiasm among the grade 6-7 class now that we have a regular routine to connect with these reading buddies.


The rapid development of community among our class and the Grade 1-2 class is such a great example of genuine community building and hospitality. It is an encouraging example of how God desires all of us to be not simply looking to our own needs but also the needs & interests of others (Phillipians 2) and also what’s written in 1 Peter 4.
“8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one
another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”

Given this example from the students spontaneously, genuinely connecting with one another, it makes community building look ‘easy’.

Let’s follow their example!

Sweet Lessons – Grade 6/7



As part of their ADST (Applied Design, Skills and Technologies) unit in baking, the grade 6/7 students spent a few days in the kitchen to practice what they have learned. What the curriculum required, was that students will learn about basic food handling and simple preparation techniques and equipment.  Judging by the satisfied looks of parents at the November Society Meeting who got to devour the baked goods, the class met their learning targets admirably.




But there are things we learn that can’t be dictated in a curriculum or measured on a report card, and these are the lessons that we most treasure at CCS. A child may say “I learned to bake cookies, cupcakes and loafs”, but this is what they actually learned:


  • Math is important, but not more so than problem solving, creativity and collaboration.
  • There is much joy in making something wonderful and then giving it away.
  • Art is more than drawing – it can be frosting a lemon loaf, decorating a cupcake or arranging donuts in just the right way.
  • In a kitchen, there are no male jobs and female jobs. Just jobs.








  • Some kids excel at thinking, some at talking, some at doing – the world needs them all to work together.

The CCS Vision

At Centennial Christian School, we hold a “world view which recognizes everyone as created in God’s image.  We seek to support each other in nurturing the unique gifts of all students.  Through example and instruction, we equip each student with knowledge, skills, and understanding, challenging them to exercise discernment and stewardship in all aspects of life.  We intend the entire learning environment to reflect the diversity and unity of God’s creation.”

This has been our vision statement for many years, but what does this look like practically?

Created in God’s image

Liberal, anti-vaxer, hipster, addict, feminist, refugee, homeless… our world is full of labels and caricatures.  Our society is so used to organizing people into neat little categories that we sometimes forget that behind every label is a human being, each with their own loves, fears and stories.  Each created in the image of our living God.  When we start education from a knowing – not a head-knowing, but a heart-knowing – that Christ is in all, we cannot do anything else but listen to, learn from and love each other.  It is from this point that we aim to start all learning.

Example and instruction

Listening, learning and loving are of no use as theories.  They need to come alive in real-life interactions.  Students are instructed on the importance of listening to understand in stead of listening to reply.  They are taught that you only really understand something when you can explain it.  But teaching and instructing stays in the head, whereas learning in an environment where teachers set an example of civil discourse in the way they interact with each other, with parents and with students – that learning goes to the heart.

When students are given the task of debating against a matter in which they are in reality in favour of, it gives them the opportunity to see through somebody else’s eyes.  When they are expected to work together on projects, not only with their close friends, but also with those with whom they don’t see eye to eye, they are challenged to find common ground to reach a common goal.


Challenging students to use discernment is the opposite of teaching them absolute truths.  It is an invitation to go to Scripture for wisdom, not weapons. It is a bidding to stop saying “you’re wrong” and start asking “help me to understand how you see it”. Discernment takes a black-and-white world and colours it in with all the shades and nuances that God intended in creation.

Diversity and unity

Jesus prayed for the unity of all believers, so it is our responsibility as Christ followers to find a way to live in love with all the possible manifestations of the image of God, whether they are like you or not.  There is after all a difference between unity and uniformity and the metaphor of the church being the body of Christ, with many different parts, illustrates this very well.

 A CCS Christmas wish

We might all live in the little boxes that society put us in to try and separate us from each other, but we have a choice to place our little boxes under the tree of life called Jesus Christ and together be a gift to mankind, each in our own unique way.

2021 A Vaccine for Hard Things – Tom Hartl

“COVID has been a vaccine for hard times” a statement made by Suzanne Lombard, one of our grade eight students, when asked to present their 2020 year in review. At first, this statement was catchy and interesting, but as our class continued to navigate the COVID-19 Pandemic we found this statement more and more applicable. In class, we found our conversations steadily building on how we can ensure that ourselves, and people in our community, are finding ways to create a “vaccine” for their Mental Health.

One practical way our class has expressed their thoughts on the subject is through writing and designing a “Zine” (pronounced zeen, as in magazine). A “zine” is a self-published miniature Magazine that showcases the authors thoughts and opinions. A zine can be crafted in many ways but the heart of it is the chance to present the writers perspectives on a topic of their choice.


Each student was tasked with coming up with an idea that they could focus six different articles on. Each article inside the zine were written on a range of topics including Social Media, Mental Health, and how their idea can impact the world. This idea would be their overarching theme throughout the entire zine. The students were able to use these guidelines to come up with some truly unique writing pieces.


The Zines were a chance for the students to offer their thoughts and solutions to the rising Mental Health issues that many are facing over these last two years. Through writing these articles and designing the zines students have been able to offer practical solutions to battle the Mental Health pandemic and contribute to the “vaccine for hard times”.










Here are some article titles and quotes from the students’ Zines:

Art and Mental Health:

“Art gives one the ability to express themselves through what they create, this can be therapeutic.”

-Olivia Colborne Grade 8


Beauty Creators:

“Design can be done for many reasons, one of those reasons is to glorify God… I see this whenever I put colour on a page, glorifying God through my art.”

-Gordon Lyndsey Grade 8





“I want to seek justice for the hurting and mourning families and friends of these women (MMIW) and help build a community that is aware of these events that take place around them.”

-Brianna Anderson

Grade 9





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