A Grand Opening event was held at Northlands Parkway Collegiate (NPC) in Winkler on the afternoon of November 7, 2013. Parents, students, GVSD staff, government dignitaries and business representatives came together to celebrate and mark the official opening of GVSD's and Manitoba's newest high school.
GVSD Superintendent, Vern Reimer, commented on the significance of the day and the process that the community has gone through:
The official ceremony began with the playing of O Canada by the NPC Jr. Band, followed by the Invocation by Edwin Guenther, GVSD Board Chair, and the recognition of guests by Supertendent and Master of Ceremonies Vern Reimer. Following the opening, the history-making ceremony involved a number of special presentations from numerous guests and stakeholders.
The Honourable James Allum, Minister of Education, was the first to bring greetings on behalf of the Manitoba Government. Relatively new in this portfolio, Minister Allum acknowledged that he was now "standing on the shoulders" of those who have come before. He also acknowledged the deep emotions experienced by many in the last weeks, as the NPC community has rallied around those who have experienced sorrow. "It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a community to build a school," stated Allum. The Minister also praised the project for its success in producing a very energy efficient school. The school is ultimately for the students, and the Minister encouraged the students to see that the future "starts now, and it's every day." Special remarks were also made by Winkler Morden MLA Cameron Friesen. Friesen noted that, while NPC was 4 years in the making, it was really 8 years in the making if you count when local advocacy efforts began."We are standing in this place today because of those advocacy efforts," stated Friesen. Friesen thanked the former trustees, who's efforts were instrumental in making NPC a reality today. Friesen concluded with the Benjamin Franklin quote that "an investment in knowledge pays the best interest."
City of Winkler Mayor, Martin Harder, also brought greetings on behalf of the city. Harder noted that the school division staff and students represent "the pillars of the future." Harder also took a moment to acknowledged the difficult "valleys" that have also been a part of NPC's startup experience, and expressed hope that everyone in the school community could grow through these difficult experiences and become stronger as a result of it.
GVSD Board Chair, Edwin Guenther, thanked everyone who had contributed to the completion of NPC. The Board Chair wished "wisdom for all" in moving forward from here. Guenther thanked the teachers and staff, in particular, for "creating a great learning environment."
NPC's first principal, Tammy MacDonald, also expressed gratitude for the constant guidance and expertise she received throughout NPC's planning and construction phases. She noted the wide range of challenges and tasks along the way, such as placing students and staff, planning escape routes, learning about furniture, and picking colours, to name a few.
The new students at NPC played a key role in the celebration. NPC's first student council co-presidents, Taryn Olfert and Rachel Suderman, highlighted the unique opportunities that lie ahead for NPC students. NPC is "our own" and a place where students can "broaden their horizons and follow their interests." Describing NPC as a school still needing to form an identity, the co-presidents affirmed that both current and future students will contribute towards creating a "great sense of identity and a place to learn and belong." Performances by several NPC student groups brought energy and celebration through music. The Jr. Jazz Choir performed "Fix You," followed by the Sr. Jazza choir performing "True Colors." The Sr. Choir concluded the set with "Ave Maria."
Prior to presenting the Key to Tammy MacDonald, presentations were made by Manitoba Hydro, Penn-Co Construction and Prairie Architects Inc. Dudley Thompson, Principal Architect for Prairie Architects, described the new standards being set by NPC. More daylight, more community, and classroom clusters are a few of the design features built into NPC. Moreover, "a sustainable school is all about health," stated Thompson, and having "less asthma and less environmental illness." Ryan Aubry from Manitoba Hydro presented a Power Smart Award to NPC. Aubry shared that NPC's energy efficiency is actually 67% better than the national energy code requirements. This is the equivalent to "taking 43 cars off the road for each year that the school exists," stated Aubry.
To commemorate the day, a time capsule was placed into the school building's cornerstone. Tammy MacDonald identified some of the objects that were placed into the time capsule, which included:
- a list of NPC's first staff
- a list of NPC's first parent advisory council
- a digital copy of the yearbook
- some newspaper articles featuring NPC
- a photo of NPC's first Zone banner
- the flyer announcing the Grand Opening
The ribbon cutting ceremony concluded the event, and was conducted by the Honourable James Allum, Edwin Guenther, Tammy MacDonald, Taryn Olfert, and Rachel Suderman.
See photos of the event below:
Photos courtesy of Golden West Radio