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When students arrive for the new term at CCS, they're going to see some differences

New principal Kevin Snyder makes some last-minute adjustments to the equipment in the Eagle's Nest child care center opening this fall at Community Christian School. It's been a year of change at the Willmar school, which will begin the fall with not just a new child care center and principal but also its first class of senior students. Tribune photo by Linda Vanderwerf

Community Christian School will begin the school year on Sept. 8 with a new principal, a new child care program and its first class of seniors. The Christian school in Willmar will begin the year with about 225 students from pre-school through 12th grade, said Administrator Del Brouwer last week.

While some private schools have struggled in the recession, CCS has been able to hold its enrollment steady, and may even have increased a bit, Brouwer said.

Final figures won't be known until after school starts, as some families are still working through the application process.

Brouwer and new principal Kevin Snyder said the school is offering several new features this year.

"We're excited to be able to expand our programming in somewhat challenging times," Brouwer said.

A part-time Spanish teacher, Rhonda Holien, will be working with students in grades K-4 and also with the pre-school students. "We know they learn it so well at a young age," Brouwer said.

Other new staff members include a married couple, Nathan and Melissa Scheele. He is a sixth-grade teacher and will be the activities director, and she is an upper-level science teacher and volleyball coach.

A new child care center, called Eagle's Nest after the school mascot, will provide child care services for children in pre-school and kindergarten. The center will also provide academic enrichment activities.

The school has some new features to offer high school students, Brouwer said. The school has made arrangements with colleges with online courses to offer a Post Secondary Educational Operations program for its high school students.

The high school started with a ninth grade a few years ago and has added a grade each year, culminating in the first class of seniors starting school this fall.

"I'm just real excited to get to know how things are going," Snyder said. "I've enjoyed meeting the staff and the kids; the kids have been a pleasure."

There aren't any major changes in store for the school, Snyder said. His plans are to "see how we're doing things and what I can do to help."

Snyder moved to the area with his family from southern Florida. He spent more than 20 years as a teacher and administrator at a Christian school there. He is a native of Pennsylvania.

"I thought it might be time for a change," Snyder said, so he packed up with his wife and three children and moved 2,200 miles north.

So far, his family likes it here, and people have been friendly, Snyder said. Neighbors have been giving them vegetables, including "the biggest cucumber I've ever seen," Snyder said.

"We just think this will work out real well," he said. "We're enjoying a little bit different pace; a little bit different lifestyle."

For more information about the school, go to

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340