Western Christian introducing new exchange program

Last year, Western Christian High School in Hull wrapped up a huge building and remodeling project. This year, principal Dan Barkel brings his full attention back to education.

“This year we’ll be thinking less about nuts and bolts, paint and plaster,” he laughed.

After 26 years at the school, six of them as principal, Barkel is still enthusiastic about a new school year.

“One of the most interesting and exciting things happening at Western this year is our new exchange program with Geijdanus School of Zwolle, Netherlands,” he said.

For three weeks during the fall, the school will be sending six students to Western. They will stay with host families in the area. In the spring, Western will send up to six students to the school in Zwolle for three weeks.

“The students from the Netherlands want to understand our culture and the people of the United States,” explained Barkel. “In return, our kids get to experience their culture and get to know that part of the world. I think it will be good for everyone.”

Zwolle has a population of around 120,000. The city, in its present form, was settled around the year 800.

Geijdanus School is a Christian school in the Reformed tradition with over 1,000 students and satellite campuses, according to Barkel. Western expects to have an enrollment of around 255 this year.

“A school that size would be a very different experience for our kids. And they take the students on day trips to European cities, such as Paris. It would give them a taste of the world beyond northwest Iowa.”

“Geijdanus School is committed to internationalization — studying cultures beyond their own — while keeping it in the context of a Christian education experience,” added Barkel. “Western is just one of many schools in the United States that they have an exchange program with.”

Barkel admitted he was a little concerned that students from Zwolle might think northwest Iowa was a little boring.

“But the people that I talked to from the Geijdanus School told me their students love a rural setting,” he said. “They have an exchange program with a school in Alberta, Canada, and kids from the Netherlands are very interested in seeing big ag machinery and large-scale farming.”

Western is in the process of establishing criteria for which students can be part of the exchange program.

Barkel is also excited about the new accreditation process the school completed last year with the help of Christian Schools International.

A few years ago the Iowa legislature began to allow non-public schools to seek accreditation through means other than the Iowa Department of Education. “We’re still an accredited school, we just used a different accrediting agency,” explained Barkel. “Most states use this route.

“This is a good process for us because it lets us focus on our mission statement and what we’re doing as a school — teaching through lessons of Christian faith. We still have site visits and an accreditation process, it’s just more meaningful for our situation.”

Through that process, Western crafted a school improvement plan that will guide it through education improvements for the next five years.

Students will see even more color in the building when they return to school. Western obtained another paint grant last spring and new shades were added to the cafeteria, classrooms and stairwells.

Barkel is also looking ahead to an ambitious spring project when the horticulture class plans to beautify the school’s courtyard.

“Cleaning up the courtyard and adding some plants will continue our plan to create a pleasing atmosphere at Western,” he said.

Comments are closed.

  • Funding needed for new nature center

    October 19th, 2017

    At the  Boyden Community Club meeting Wednesday, Oct.

    A lawn full of truck sunk to the axles

    October 19th, 2017

    A lawn full of truck sunk to the axles June De Wit | Staff Writer
    jdewit@ncppub.com jdewit@ncppub.com It’s not often a semi lands on your front lawn, but it happened Tuesday, Oct.

    Hull Helping Hull donations pile up

    October 19th, 2017

    Last Friday, students in both Boyden-Hull School locations, Hull Christian and Western Christian wrapped up their Hull Helping Hull

    Ten Haken helps Puerto Rico business after hurricane

    October 19th, 2017

    Puerto Rico’s extensive power loss in the wake of Hurricane Maria last month has left businesses struggling

    Kamies hired as Boyden city administrator

    September 28th, 2017

    Boyden has a new city administrator. Tami Kamies began her duties Sept. 5 and she’s excited about the new position. She’s looking forward to the change.

  • Winning the battle

    September 28th, 2017

    Allison Decker’s doctors have described her cancer as one-in-a-billion.

    Boyden-Hull celebrates homecoming week

    September 28th, 2017

    Boyden-Hull High School celebrated homecoming last week Sept. 18-22.

    New name, same face at Scott’s Auto Repair

    September 13th, 2017

    New signs replaced old ones on the former C&K Repair business in Hull last weekend. The business has been renamed Scott’s Auto Repair. Owner Scott Hansmann said, “I want customers to know that it’s a completely new business and not to expect what it used to be.”

    Bonestroos purchase Electric Beach

    September 13th, 2017

    For Stephanie Bonestroo, owning Electric Beach is a perfect fit. But the new owner of the tanning salon in Hull had no idea it would be as much fun as it is.

    Koele Inc. to celebrate 50 years

    September 13th, 2017

    Koele Inc. staff is excited to be celebrating 50 years in business. On Wednesday, Sept. 20, a free picnic supper will be served in Westside Park in Hull from 5-7 p.m. Door prizes will also be given away to help celebrate the occasion.

  • [Advertisement.]
  • What’s Happening

    Wolfpack pull out a 19-16 win over Blackhawks

    Western Christian0-0-19-019 Hinton0-10-0-616 HINTON-The matchup between Class 1A fifth-ranked Western Christian and Hinton, which has been receiving votes in the […]

    Local squads race against some of the region’s best

    SIOUX CENTER-The Sioux Center cross-country invitational at The Ridge Golf and Country Club Thursday, Sept. 21, was the biggest and most talented field of runners Western Christian, Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley and Trinity Christian would see this 2017 season.

    Ella M. De Zeeuw

    Ella De Zeeuw, 91, of Hull, Iowa, passed away Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, at Rose Estates Assisted Living Community, Overland Park, Kansas. Funeral services were Wednesday, Sept. 20, at American Reformed Church, Hull, with interment in Hope Cemetery, Hull.