Community Christian School: Personal responsibilty, a school fundamental

Recycling effort aims to save at least eight trees this year

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Eliza McCullough, 8, a third-grader at Community Christian School, gets comfortable while reading a book at the school recently.

Personal responsibility of students is fundamental at Community Christian School.

Earlier in the school year, Marsha Halbach’s fifth- and sixth-grade class started its own recycling program.

The students placed recycling boxes in all of the classrooms at the school, including the art, music and preschool rooms.

Cole Seehusen, 12, a sixth-grader, said every week the students collect the paper and weigh it. Every 1,000 pounds equals eight trees saved.

The goal is to save at least eight by the end of the year.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Cole Seehusen, 12, a sixth-grader at Community Christian School, collects a box of recycled paper from one of the kindergarten classes at the school Wednesday afternoon.

Students retrieve the boxes Thursdays at 1:30 p.m.

Seehusen said the class makes sure the recyclables are put out on the curb before 8:15 a.m. every Friday.

Levi Odor-Westrum, 11, a fifth-grader, said the project has brought the class together.

“We thought it would be fun and help us bond more as a class,” he said. “For the recycling, we can help the planet come together more, too.”

He added, “We want to help replace trees that have been taken away.”

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Leon Cook, 12, a sixth-grader at Community Christian School, front, weighs a bag of recycled paper at the school Wednesday afternoon. Cole Seehusen, 12, also a sixth-grader, looks on.

Abby Cook, 12, a sixth-grader, agreed.

“I think it’s cool that as a class we can all save trees together,” she said.

Brooke Evans, 11, a fifth-grader, said it’s a chance for the class to be leaders.

“I think it’s nice we can set an example for other classes and do it together,” she said.

Most recently, students helped start a new breakfast program, according to Principal Angila Moffitt.

“We started with sack breakfast and now we are implementing hot breakfast,” Moffitt said. “The students run that and now we have an adult volunteer to help us with that.”

She added, “I actually have a kindergartner that helps set up the tables. Everyone kind of pitches in.”

Students have also been running the lunch program.

Moffitt said having a small school equates to every student helping out.

“With a small school, the kids are really strong leaders and do a lot for the school because it is a small school,” she said. “Lunch they pretty much run the program except for the lady that dishes out the food.”

“There’s a lot of opportunities for every child because we are a small school and we need everyone,” she added.

After school, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., students have the opportunity to finish homework, have a snack, work on crafts, or play games, according to Moffitt.

“We just started that,” she said. “The school has never had anything like it before.”

Moffitt said the after-school program could raise enrollment.

“We don’t have a bussing or transportation system and most parents work until 5 p.m., but school gets out at 3 p.m.,” Moffitt said. “I really understand why some parents haven’t been able to send their kids here because of transportation.”

About 95 students, from preschool to eighth grade, are enrolled at CCS.

“We hope the afterschool program will grow,” Moffitt said. “It’s the cool place to be.”

Moffitt began as the school’s principal at the beginning of the school year.

At that time, she became one of the first CCS alum to return to the school as an employee.

She attended CCS from third grade through eighth grade in the 1980s before transferring to Fort Dodge Senior High, where she graduated in 1995.

At that time, CCS, a non-denominational school, was located in the basement of First Evangelical Free Church.

“I had a good experience there as a child,” she said. “I liked the small environment. The peacefulness. I wasn’t afraid to come to school. I had a lot of friends.”

After graduating high school, Moffitt went on to obtain her master’s degree and doctorate degrees in educational leadership and curriculum instruction from the University of Phoenix.

Prior to that, she taught at FDSH as a special education teacher. She also taught younger students.

“Coming from a teacher background, I have taught every level except for preschool,” she said.

After having children of her own, she shifted her attention to reaching students in an online format.

“I taught online for a couple of years for a high school online,” she said. “I taught for Kaplan University in the American College of Education.”

Moffitt continued teaching online courses until the opportunity came up at CCS.

Having a connection to the school is meaningful to her.

“Just knowing the history of the school and having a vision of the future here,” she said. “It helps a lot and knowing a lot of the supporters of the school.”

In 2013, CCS moved from First Evangelical Free Church to its own building, located at 2406 9 1/2 Ave. S.

“It was always a dream for CCS to have its own building,” Moffitt said.

The staff has also undergone a transformation.

“The longest serving teacher has been here two years,” she said. “We have all new staff here within the past two years.”

The school employs about 12 people.

Jean Black previously served as the school’s administrator. Black served as business manager for about a year. She has since taken a position as paraeducator elsewhere in Fort Dodge, according to Moffitt.

Moffitt hopes the school can retain its leadership going forward.

“We hope to get the stability back,” she said. “One thing that keeps me here is I have five kids that attend this school.”

She added, “I want to see it grow and develop.”

The biggest challenge for the school remains funding, according to Moffitt.

“Because we are a nonprofit and we don’t get funding from the government, we rely heavily on donations of supporters of this school,” she said.

But she is surprised at the number of contributors to the school.

“It has amazed me who all of our supporters are,” she said. “We have people in all different states who support and believe in this school.”

Moffitt enjoys the variety being a principal provides.

“It’s wild and crazy,” she said. “I never know what’s going to pop up.”

She spends the first part of her day meeting with teachers for devotion and prayer.

Other times she is busy with paperwork or visiting classrooms.

The kids make each day special. Some provide needed entertainment.

“We have a boy that loves to sneak into the office to tell us his favorite Bible verses,” she said. “I like the variety.”

One of her favorite parts of the day is greeting students as they enter the school.

“Being the first one to give them a smile to help set their day up for success,” she said. “Just giving that personal touch every day.”

Moffitt enjoys the bond she has with students.

“People ask me how many kids I have and I say five,” she said. “But as the year goes on and people ask me, I would gladly say I have 95 kids because everyone becomes family. I think it’s because I feel like my job is to protect them and help them with their education, while trying to keep everyone happy.”