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Nehemiah 3 details the biblical story of how individuals split the workload, and together built a wall. In this vein of thinking, Eastern Christian School administrators unveiled a Nehemiah “mini-grant” program last spring, which invited staff members to pitch their ideas. The desire was that through this initiative, school administrators could better equip our staff to build their sections of the wall. 

In the end, four staff proposals were accepted and approved for funding. Here is where each project stands now:

Model UN, Soli Nieves, Marchelle Roniet, James Uitermarkt

Eastern Christian High School’s Model UN launched this fall and students are anticipating attending two separate events this spring: the SHUMUN, hosted by Seton Hall University in February; and the Global Citizens Model UN in New York City in March.

The organization, which is composed of 27 students, meets weekly during SOAR and after school. During the events, students will role play as delegates and ambassadors to the United Nations and simulate UN committees in which they work together with members of other UN teams from other high schools. In preparation for the conferences, EC Model UN delegates are participating in simulations and preparing for debates. Students research their committee work and prepare position papers to actively participate in the conferences. Our students are excited to compete and participate in these conferences in the spring.

“In its first year as an organization, EC’s Model UN is actively learning how to work together to prepare for a successful conference experience in February and March. We are excited to see our delegates collaborating with other high school students and learning about international relations,” says Uitermarkt.

EC Literary Journal, Ryan Dykstra

Ryan Dykstra has been working with a student team of eight individuals once a week during SOAR. The group is actively soliciting art and literature submissions from the ECHS student body and is expecting to publish a journal at the end of the year.

“A literary journal enriches not only the students who work and contribute to it, but the entire community that it is distributed to. One of our defining characteristics of being human, and one of the characteristics that we reflect as image bearers of God, is our creativity. The literary journal blesses those who read it by reflecting a characteristic of God and directing the reader towards beauty,” says Dykstra. 

He adds, “We hope that students will become cultural influencers, however big or small, to redirect current cultural trends back toward the worship and glorification of the first creator,” says Dykstra.

Sensory Space, Janene Hall

The Wyckoff campus opened the academic year with the Sensory Calming Corner for students needing additional support. Utilized almost daily by both upper elementary and middle students, it serves multiple functions, ranging as a reward for students who accomplish difficult academic tasks, to a safe space for those who are emotionally overwhelmed.

The materials in the Sensory Calming Corner include motion-based calming supplies; tactile input to muscles; fine motor tactile input supplies; visual-based calming supplies; visual-motor calming supplies; auditory-based calming supplies; therapeutic art supplies; devotionals and inspirational wall messages. 

 “The space has been a daily blessing to the students at the Wyckoff campus and it has been a powerful tool in providing an environment that calms emotions and helps regulate the central nervous system very quickly. We are very grateful for the funding that made this space possible,” says Hall.

Conscious Discipline, Jessica Truran

The Nehemiah mini-grant was used to purchase a number of resources that enabled implementation of Conscious Discipline on the Midland Park campus. Conscious Discipline is a program designed to help educators implement trauma-informed practices to create safe, supportive schools.

“A number of materials were helpful in kindergarten as students learned about identifying their big emotions such as frustration, worry, and extreme excitement. After my class benefited from the “Feelings Buddies” that teach about recognizing emotions, I passed them onto preschool classrooms, which have found them effective as well. CD resources are also used daily to teach students healthy coping skills, including visuals for deep breathing and sensory activities that calm the nervous system and prepare students for higher-level thinking and learning. One resource that I look forward to introducing in the coming weeks are the “Active Calming Tools,” which include a variety of kinesthetic activities to help students learn to regulate their emotions,” shares Truran.

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