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Collage of 80s grads

Excelling in the Eighties

As part of our 60th anniversary celebrations during the 2022-23 we are sharubg stories from valedictorians across the years.  In this blog post you’ll hear from some of the valedictorians during the eighties!

Luke Seerveld (81)

The time spent attending TDCH expanded our consciousness of the world; we became more of who we would be as adults. It was in High School that I grew to love movies and venture out with my friends to create narrative stories in super 8 film. We put together a film with knights and damsels in distress that we called In Search of the Holy Fruit Basket. We learned how to knit with metallic-looking yarn to make “mail” vests, and crafted swords and helmets out of wood and metal.

After graduating from Dordt and twists and turns in my career I began Seerveld Media in 2005. At the end of 2014 I also started a vlog on YouTube called Meet The Gaffer. Sharing my expertise with others has allowed me to become part of a much larger community, a global community.

Looking back, it’s clear that many things shape you: beyond family, friends, and colleagues, the institutions of learning that coach you along a path or pull you into avenues you may not have chosen on your own can have a profound effect. TDCH was a wonderful place for me. I wasn’t one of the cool kids, but I wasn’t completely invisible either; I was encouraged to shine here and there, and allowed to be anonymous as well. That’s how I’ve continued to go through life. When you’re taught that you are a child of God, you understand that you are important to God while at the same time having the very same worth as everyone else. Sometimes the spotlight will swing around and land on you and you will be asked to witness to the truth that the Holy Spirit has shaped in you, and sometimes it falls to you to serve those next to you, while the spotlight is trained on them. TDCH was highly instrumental in instilling this awareness in me and preparing me for service in God’s world. May this legacy of educational service continue.

Teresa Hofstede- Aukema (84)

Hello, I am honoured to send a little note as the valedictorian from the graduating class of 1984! I’m looking forward to celebrating 60 years of God’s faithfulness through the generations at TDCH.

At graduation my name was Teresa Hofstede, I lived in Georgetown at that time and enjoyed an hour bus ride to TDChristian with many I had gone to school with for 12 years. After graduation I chose to work, I enjoyed many different jobs before finding one as a receptionist, something I had enjoyed doing while at TDChristian with Mrs. Hartholt, Mr. Barneveld and the office staff, where I learned much. Mrs. Rooks was my English teacher and at that time we were asked to do journal entries, I still have many of them, and so at the time and years later appreciated when reading them, her replies, of caring loving guidance, as a 17 year old unsure of her future she provided such wisdom to her students.

I married someone from our class, Ed Aukema, we have been married for 34 years. My husband and I own a farm, started off milking Holstein cows and now our focus is on cash cropping. We are blessed with two sons who also went to TDChristian, classes of 2014 and 2020 – both married girls from their classes! We have two of the most cutest grandsons, Papa & Grandma get to have them over quite a bit and we adore our time with them.

Like others, life has brought with it ups and downs, loss of loved ones, trials, there has also been growth in Him, a favourite song of mine is “My Story” by Big Daddy Weave he sings about hope, love, life, grace, mercy, victory, We ALL have a story. I love looking at and being reminded of God’s weaving of many people, places, verses and songs into mine. To tell you MY story is to tell of HIM. All my life he has been faithful.

What is your story?

Glenn Van Zeumeren (85)

Glenn Van Zeumeren was the Valedictorian of 1985 and his legacy lives on in his eponymous award.

“During his 4 years at TDCH, Glenn immersed himself in the full high school experience, from playing on sports teams, to joining the athletic council, to running an extracurricular fundraiser. He was a kind, gentle, passionate team player who was well respected by both his peers and teachers.

After TDCH, Glenn went on to get his Bachelor of Business at the UofT, and shortly afterwards he married his wife, Michelle (née Exelby, 86’). They had three children who eventually went to TDCH as well; and Glenn jumped right back into the community. An avid athlete, triathlete, and Ironman, Glenn took up the position as cross-country coach, quickly gaining the respect and friendship of both students and teachers.

In September 2010, Glenn was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder for which he would need a stem cell transplant. He underwent a transplant transplant in Aug 2011, but his body rejected it and his health declined. On November 12, 2011, Glenn went to be with his loving Saviour. Glenn is survived by his loving wife, Michelle, and children Ryan (‘10), Collette (‘12), and Sierra (‘15).

TDCH was monumental in shaping Glenn to be the well-rounded, caring, compassionate, and loving man that he was. If he were here to write this today, he would only have good things to say about the school that so greatly impacted his life. After he passed away, the staff, teachers, and community at TDCH proved to be a tremendous support system to his family as they mourned. In the spring of 2012, Michelle and a few of the staff at TDCH created the “Glenn Van Zeumeren award” which has been awarded each year to a male athlete who shows exceptional leadership qualities, putting team play and fair play first, leading teammates by example.

Glenn left behind a legacy and a big imprint on many people’s hearts—his final words before he went to meet his Saviour were “Shout it from the Mountaintop.” Glenn spent his life living for the Lord, and wanted us to shout about God’s goodness from the highest mountaintops for all to hear.”

Reflection by daughter Sierra (Van Zeumeren) Kooy.

Peter Schuurman (87) 

My experience at TDCH was torturous on multiple levels, but I have ironically since then made Christian education the core of my life and vocation. Not only did I have my leg badly broken on TD’s soccer field in grade 11, but I was in a grisly car accident in my grade 13 year that erased a semester from my high school career.

I was a late bloomer at TDCH and it seems that trend continued through much of my life. I entered university a year later than my peers and still haven’t left some 30 years later. I’ve accumulated a few degrees, including a PhD (Waterloo), been a campus minister (Brock), an adjunct faculty member (Redeemer), and now I’m executive director of Global Scholars Canada, serving Christian professors around the world.

I always knew the bricks of TDCH were put together by folks with a passion for an education inspired by the wonders of faith in an awesome Creator of Everything. This God also knows the torture and tragedy of earthly existence, and so the combination of a wonder-full and suffering God have stuck with me my whole life and been part of what I preach, teach, research and write to this day.

I was also a late bloomer to marriage, finding my wife in my early thirties. Coincidentally, my first child and only son was born on the same calendar date as my car accident decades earlier. My first daughter, coincidentally, was also born on that same date two years after my son.

Our final child was not born on that date. She was born on Reformation Day, October 31st. We named her Grace to summarize the mysterious movements that mark our life, and which are also the deep convictions of our church and Christian education. We hope to live more deeply into these divine mysteries as the decades roll on, Lord willing.

Tracey-Ann (Pypker) Van Brenk (88)

Tracey-Ann grew up in Scarborough and attended TDCH from September 1983 to January 1988 working as a teller at a bank full time for a semester after graduation to help fund her seemingly endless desire for learning. She subsequently enrolled in the University of Toronto’s (UofT) Bachelor of Science degree and graduated in 1992 with an honour’s specialist in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. She married her TDCH high school sweetheart, Bert Van Brenk (TDCH ’85) in 1990 during her undergraduate studies and his medical school training at UofT.

After graduating, Tracey-Ann worked at both Kinark Child and Family Services in Whitby as a social worker and the Institute of Family Living as a child and family therapist. Their son Noah was born in 1996 in Toronto and after moving to Peterborough, Ontario for Bert’s work, their son Erik and daughter Hannah were born in 1999 and 2001 respectively. In 2002 Tracey-Ann discerned a desire for a deeper life in God, so she enrolled in Tyndale Seminary and completed her Master of Divinity degree in spiritual formation in 2009 and has enjoyed working as a Spiritual Director ever since. Now that her children are all young adults, she has dabbled once again in academic life and is presently enrolled at the Institute for Christian Studies towards a Master in Worldview Studies.

She credits long and deep conversations with her family around the dinner table and her formative years at TDCH as the inspiration for her love of learning. Significant learning memories at TDCH include William Groot standing on a ladder, using the corners of the room to explain the algebraic concept of vectors, as well as Cathy Vanderheide and Fran Joosse instilling a life-long love of the French language and culture through their enthusiastic teaching methods. The grade 13 trip to Washington DC, lunches in the Commons with friends, and a stint on Student Council are all fond social memories.

She is grateful to God (and her parents for their financial sacrifice) for the gift of attending TDCH and the indelible impact it has had on her life.”

Frank Romp (89)

Frank Romp’s parents share seven memories about Frank’s time at TDChristian.

1) Frank selected James 4: 13-15 for his valedictorian address. He loved TDCH despite traveling on the bus every day from Orangeville.

2) In his last year at TDCH we moved to Orillia, a long trip each day to Toronto and back. He never complained, just loved all the students and staff at TDCH.

Frank graduated in 1989. After graduation he stayed with his brother in Orangeville. He worked with him in construction.

3) Frank planned to go to Redeemer College and he did apply. Received the Redeemer Foundation Scholarship, but changed his mind and wanted to first serve one year with YWAM. The Lord had something different in mind and took Frank home to be with Him on October 23, 1990, in an accident at work.

4) At the time of the accident the family lived in Orillia. Frank stayed in Orangeville. Was active in church and president of the Orangeville Young Peoples.

5) Frank was especially fond of Mr. Syd Hielema, who Frank said, taught him to be himself. He loved music, band, and choir.

6) His friends at TDCH were many, but especially Tim Schuurman, John Aukema, Jason Knox and his girl friend, Jenn Smele.

7) Frank was a joy to have around. We are so thankful that Frank loved the Lord or better yet that he was loved by the Lord. That has been and is our comfort. We truly can say now; Thank you Lord for the 19 years we could have him as our son.