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Alumni Highlights

Les Vonkeman (Class of 1987)

Les Vonkeman has spent most of his life in Southern Alberta. Being born into a Cree family in the 1960’s, Les was a part of the 60’s scoop, which resulted in the government removing him from his birth family and Les being adopted into the Vonkeman family in Iron Springs. He attended Immanuel, graduating in 1987.

In 2000, Les applied to the Lethbridge College for the Criminal Justice Program and then entered the Lethbridge Police Service in January 2001. He spent the first ten years of his career on the streets as a patrol officer and then moved into the position of Diversity Liaison Officer in 2011.

As Diversity Officer, Les was given the opportunity to learn about his Indigenous culture. This began a journey for him which has included reconnecting birth family. Les has also created programs to bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous together, which benefits the Southern Alberta community. For this work, Les has received the Community Builders Award and the Queens Jubilee Award.

Les’ most recent initiative has been as a founding member of the Honouring Traditions and Reconciliation Society, a grassroots action-based organization working in Lethbridge to help spread Indigenous awareness and education in an effort to bridge the reconciliation gap.

Les remains a part of the Lethbridge Police Service, working once again as a patrol officer. He and his wife Jeanette (class of ‘89) have remained involved with the Immanuel community, with both of their daughters attending ICS, as well as many of their foster children. You can learn more about Les’ work with the Honouring Traditions and Reconciliation Society at their website, www.htrsociety.org.

Jordan Schellenberg (Class of 2002)

Jordan Schellenberg graduated from Immanuel Christian High School in 2002 and from the Criminal Justice program at Lethbridge College in 2009. He then went on to join the Boys and Girls Club in Lethbridge in 2012 as the Director of Youth Programs.

As Jordan continued to work with youth within Lethbridge, he became increasingly aware of one of the major obstacles facing youth – a lack of affordable, quality driven, mentorship-based programs supporting youth after school. Seeking to responding this problem in Lethbridge, Jordan and three friends founded Youth One, a grassroots organization dedicated to giving youth a central community of support which would be completely funded by the community. Since launching in 2014, Youth One has supported thousands of individual youth through their middle school and high school years. This has been done through after-school drop-in programs, support groups, leadership training, food services, life skill development & more.

Jordan began as the Director of Services in 2014 and today serves as the President and CEO. He and his wife Jodi have three children, two of whom will be students at ICES in the fall of 2023, much to the joy of their grandmother Terri, who is the ICES admin assistant. 

You can learn more about Youth One and support Jordan and the work he’s doing there at www.youthone.ca.

We want to celebrate our alumni community in whatever way we can. Do you know of a interesting ICS alumni story? Be sure to message us!

Tim Selles (Class of 2005)

Tim Selles was born in British Columbia, moved to Lethbridge when he was in elementary and graduated from Immanuel Christian High School in 2005. After graduation, Tim moved to Hamilton, Ontario to attend university and has remained there to this day. He lives there now with his wife and young daughter and teaches English & Music at Smithville Christian High School.

In addition to his “day job” of being a high school teacher, Tim is also an accomplished singer/songwriter with three albums under the name Timid, the Brave. Tim remembers one of his earlier musical experiences as being in the ICHS choir, singing bass.

Studying English in at Redeemer University gave Tim increased skills needed to write his own lyrics and he began performing his own songs at the coffee house at Redeemer. After spending a month walking the Camino de Santiago across Spain, Tim returned to Hamilton and began writing and producing more music.

You can find Tim’s music and follow his band Timid, the Brave, here: https://timidthebrave.bandcamp.com/album/vuja-de

We want to celebrate our alumni community in whatever way we can. Do you know of a interesting ICS alumni story? Be sure to message us!

Erin Elgersma (Class of 2015)

Erin Elgersma grew up in Southern Alberta and graduated from Immanuel Christian Secondary School in 2015, the first of three from her family. After high school, Erin was based in New Zealand for two years with YWAM (Youth With a Mission) before moving on to Trinity Western University (TWU), where she earned a BA in International Studies.

Erin is currently living in Ottawa, where she is a legislative assistant for Chris Lewis, Conservative MP for Essex. She assists Mr. Lewis during committee meetings and corresponds with people of his riding. Erin began considering a career in politics through her time at YWAM, as well as her first political science classes at TWU. Erin didn’t ever plan for a career in politics, but looking back credits high school Social Studies teacher Maureen Milne for seeing her passion for politics and international affairs before she even did. Erin said, “I think regularly, ‘If only Miss Milne could see me now’, and ‘How did Miss Milne know this is something I’d enjoy even before I did?’”

Cindy Bouwer (Class of 1980)

Cindy Bouwers, nee Stronks, is an artist and a designer whose love for art began in Junior High at Immanuel Christian School under Mr. Stelpstra. After graduating from Immanuel in 1980, Cindy went to the U of A and obtained her BFA in Visual Communication Design. She spent many years as an accomplished graphic designer, as well as teaching design courses at the Alberta College of Art and Design.

After a strong career in graphic design, Cindy decided to explore a long-buried desire to paint and pursue her own artwork. This has resulted in a rich body of work, informed by her design background. Cindy has been juried into a number of group shows in Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto and in 2019 won the Duggan Landscape Award presented by the Society of Canadian Artists for her landscape painting titled Gust and Flurry.

Cindy now has a studio in Airdrie, Alberta, and you can view and purchase her work at cindybouwers.com or follow her socials on Facebook www.facebook.com/CindyBouwersArtStudio/ or Instagram @cindybouwersart

Marten DeVlieger (Class of 2000)

Marten DeVlieger grew up in Taber, graduating from grade 9 at Taber Christian School in 1997 and then from grade 12 at Immanuel Christian High School in 2000.  Both Marten and his sister Karen were born with Cystic Fybrosis (CF), a fatal genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system.  Their mom had to manually perform chest physiotherapy on them daily to help clear their airways.  

After high school, Marten had big dreams, including becoming a helicopter pilot, and wasn’t going to let CF stand in his way.  Marten designed a chest device that would mimic the physiotherapy that his mom had been doing for his entire life.  Starting with random parts in the shop on his dad’s farm, Marten’s invention is now known and sold as the Monarch Airway Clearance System.  This invention has changed his life, as well as many others living with CF. 

Marten did get his helicopter license and flew in northern Alberta for the oil industry until his health made it too difficult and he had to give up his pilot’s license.  Today, Marten and his wife Janine live in the Crowsnest Pass with their kids. Follow Marten on his socials, Facebook and Instagram, to watch his adventures in mountain biking, snowmobiling and more. 

Kalyn Swihart (Class of 2002)

Kalyn Swihart, a group fitness instructor, founder of Ballet Beats, and ICHS alumni, has been recognized as one of Canada’s Top Fitness Instructors for 2023 for the second time – congratulations, Kalyn! 

“As a child, Kalyn Swihart was an entrepreneurial dance teacher. She offered her services as a ballet teacher to athletes in sports like gymnastics, figure skating, synchronized swimming and martial arts, who might benefit from ballet. This inspired her to combine fitness with dance and her Ballet Beats program was born. “I love teaching movement more than words can express,” she says. 

“I am passionate about creating a teaching environment that is for all bodies. One that starts with acceptance and self love and focuses on the movement, being our strongest selves and rebelling against the idea of an ‘ideal body,’” she says. “I think the world needs more of that to get all people moving and benefiting from exercise.” (taken from impactmagaine.ca) 

Kalyn attended Immanuel Christian Schools from kindergarten to grade 12, graduating in 2002.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts in dance with a major in ballet from the University of Calgary and Alberta Ballet.  Her education emphasized both dance and kinesiology which has supported the marriage of Classical Ballet technique and fitness to create a unique experience for her students.  Kalyn created Ballet Beats ®, a full-body workout experience, to break down the ballet barrier – making ballet accessible to all. For more information, please visit her website at balletbeats.com or follow her socials on Facebook or Instagram. 


Rebecca Van Dyk (Class of 2010)



Please tell us a little bit about where you grew up and what going to school at Immanuel Christian Schools was like for you as a student.

I grew up in Lethbridge and attended Immanuel from K-12. I have so many fond memories of my years there. At Immanuel I received a quality, Christ centered education that formed my worldview and helped to shape me into the person I am today. I enjoyed all facets of life at ICS and appreciated the many opportunities that were available for me to develop intellectually, spiritually, athletically and creatively.

When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?

I have always loved writing, but for a long time my poems and stories stayed hidden in my notebooks. Encouragement from my poetry professor and inspiration from my children’s literature classes gave me confidence to pursue publication. After a lifetime of reading many picture books and spending countless hours in the children's section of bookstores, I am thrilled to be publishing my own stories.

What inspired you to write your book “Something More”?

As a teacher and a parent, I have seen the importance of fostering imaginative, resourceful, self-directed play in children during the foundational years of their development. The flexible structure of pretend play allows children to flourish in essential areas such as problem solving, communication, self-expression, confidence, inquiry and motivation. I wrote this book as an aid to further encourage natural creativity and curiosity after seeing the world through the imaginative eyes of my students and daughters.

Tell us a little bit about your family life and how you balance teaching, writing, parenting etc.

I taught Grade 2 for five years until my first daughter was born. Now my most important role is being a mom. When I only had one baby at home it was easier to find pockets of time to write during the day. Now that I have 2 kids, most writing happens at night when the girls are in bed. The process of publishing Something More took longer than I expected, and I learned so much. After my maternity leave was over I also began teaching English online to students around the world. Doing this in the early mornings and evenings allowed me to continue to use my teaching skills while also staying at home with my girls and spending more time on my writing.

Why do you think reading is so important?

Teaching kids to read is important, but teaching them to LOVE reading is invaluable! Reading opens the world to children, provides the foundation for future academic success, expands their vocabulary and, of course, enhances their imagination!

Are there activities children and students can do after reading “Something More”?

Yes! Be sure to check out the resources page on my website where you can download free colouring pages and follow-up activities! More importantly, my hope is that reading Something More will inspire kids to engage in imaginative play and for adults to encourage and join them in this. Kids don’t need the newest, fanciest toys to have fun. With a spark of creativity, everyday objects such as laundry baskets and trash cans become vessels of discovery and exploration.

Is there something you would like to tell our students in terms of following your dreams?

Don’t only focus on your end goal but enjoy the process of learning, creating and imagining!

Will there be more books in your future?

I hope so! I have many stories on the go. Some never leave the idea stage. Some are outlines. Some are half finished. Some are finished and waiting to be edited. Now that Something More is out in the world, I can take steps towards publishing my next book!

Where and how can readers follow your career, and purchase “Something More”?

Find me on Instagram @rebeccavandykauthor or check out my website www.rebeccavandyk.com to follow along or to purchase a copy of Something More.