Ebenezer Canadian Reformed School (ECRS) has been celebrating its 50th anniversary this school year.
ECRS is an independent, parent-organized and run, K-12 school on Viewmount Road South in Smithers with more than 200 students, 15 full-time teaching staff and a number of part-time teachers.
Principal Derek Stoffels said the school has come a long way from its humble beginnings.
“The people that started the school were immigrants from Holland, post-World War Two immigrants and their faith was a huge thing for them and they felt in light of their faith they needed to have education that was consistent with their faith,” he said.” They started a Christian school as soon as they could.”
He said the biggest change over the life of the school is the ongoing growth of the student population which has led to multiple additions to the school building.
“This year we are at 238 students. That is kindergarten through Grade 12,” he said. “When it opened fifty years ago, there were two teachers and 58 students.”
The parents who established the school chose the name Ebenezer Canadian Reformed School. According to the school’s website Ebenezer means “stone of help” to reflect that the school was started in faith, knowing it would only be in God’s strength that it could be established and only in God’s strength could it continue.
“The school’s name is something we’ve highlighted for the 50th anniversary. As we look at our anniversary that is certainly something we’ve focused on, how God has been faithful and how He has sustained us from the origins when immigrants with not that much sacrificing significantly to get something started to 50 years later having this school society and the structure,” Stoffels said.
Last week, as part of the anniversary celebrations, the school hosted a pancake breakfast and fundraiser to raise money to renovate its library.
“It is a big building, there is always ongoing maintenance,” he added. “This past summer we revitalized a whole section of the school. In 2015, we added our gym and converted our old gym into classrooms. These funds at the pancake breakfast are being targeted towards the library. We want to improve the existing library, making some changes we’ve been looking at for a while but have always been pushed aside by other projects.”
Last Monday’s fundraiser, which included a silent auction, brought in $6,673 for the library.
“We are incredibly thankful for all those in our community who supported this event,” said silent auction coordinator Jody Schouten. “We did not have a specific goal to reach, but this will definitely go a long way to reaching our renovation expenses.”
She said the renovations at the library include new shelving, increased storage space, fresh paint, a mural, a reading nook and an upgrade to the heating system.