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Valley Schools are back in session


Last Thursday and Friday (Sept. 7 and 8) 1, 483 students walked through the doors of Valley schools to start a new year.
Earlier this year the division brought forward a challenging budget that saw the loss of the junior Kindergarten program, as well as some cuts in a few areas that were not quite as drastic, but none of this overshadowed the first day excitement of the youth.
“There is still lots of great stuff happening in our schools,” said Swan Valley School Division Superintendent Tim Mendel.
“We still have quality band and music programs as well as drama productions in a number of the facilities. We also have all kinds of extracurricular sports activities. I would compare the opportunities our middle years sports program offers to anywhere in Manitoba. We have tweaked this budget wise but the majority of it will still go.”
“The board is really looking to be progressive to keep what we have through the next 50 years,” he said.
The Division is celebrating 50 years throughout the school year and will be marking the occasion in a variety of ways.
“It’s a big year for the division and with it we are starting our first full year with our new strategic plan,” said Mendel.
“We are really working hard with our communication and keeping the public informed. One of these pieces was our websites which we have completely updated. We are using these to interact with our parents and students and want this to be a place to go for information on the division and our schools.”
Mendel hopes that the public will take note of everything happening in the education system and support the many extracurricular activities the students take part in through the year.
“There is lots of talent in our school division and that often gets overlooked,” he said.
“I welcome not only parents but the community in general to come out and see our youth. The dramas, band performances, sporting events and all the other functions we put on are filled with amazing talent and it’s a great way to spend an evening whether you know a child in the school or not.”
Reflecting back on his first year as Superintendent, Mendel joked that he survived the first year, which he sees a positive.
“The division has lots to offer and the children get incredible options for programing,” he added.
“Every school has a niche and they are all quality schools for children to attend. Every school has a different flavour and them all do things a little different which makes they special in their own way and separates them from the others.”
SVRSS update status
Similar to that of the ESRSS last summer, the SVRSS also saw some major updates to the building’s exterior with the replacement of a number of windows, doors and the metal cladding around the building’s upper perimeters.
“Toward the end of October or beginning of November we should be pretty much all done with the exterior,” said Mendel. “This depends, of course, with materials showing up on time and the weather cooperating.
“They have made pretty good progress but we are still waiting for some of the doors and that stuff.”
Further to brightening up the exterior, the interior has also seen some enhancements with windows being added to bring in natural light to the gymnasium and both stairwells.
“The idea is to expose our students to more natural light and you really notice this in the stair areas,” Mendel said. “You will also notice a change from orange doors to grey in the majority of the building.
“The main office receive a major renovation with some new cabinetry and floor. It’s not completely done as we still have the ceiling and the flooring in the principal offices as well as some painting but we will look to get this done over Christmas break.”
Construction Trades Building
Other than a few minor projects to complete, the Construction Trades Building is basically complete.
“We are in the process of getting all the paperwork finished so that we can officially take possession,” said Mendel. “Then, we can start moving all of the equipment in.
“We will have a couple of students starting in there but it will not be full time quite yet. We need to give our instructor, Sebastian Lacasse, some time to get the programs setup and modeled after other successful programs in Manitoba.”
The Division hopes this building, as well as the Heavy Duty Mechanics shop, will not only be used just by school aged students but by community members going through their higher levels of apprenticeship programs.
“The goal is to have Swan River be a training centre, not just for high school but for post secondary and industry,” said Mendel.
“We want to use education as an economic driver for the Valley and we will do this by forming partnerships with schools like University College of the North and through our own initiatives.”