Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 14, 2007
Vegreville joins in St. Martin School's centennial party
Founded 100 years ago by the Daughters of Providence, the school walks the Catholic talk
By RAMON GONZALEZ
- WCR photo by Ramon Gonzalez
Grade 3 student, Gregory Mallet shows his rendition of his school.
Students, staff and parents at St. Martin's elementary marked the centennial of Catholic education in their school May 2 with a birthday party they'll remember for years.
Wearing colourful birthday hats, the 288 students and their teachers sang happy birthday to St. Martin's, prayed over their school and watched as principal Margit Varga blew out the candles of a large birthday cake.
The solemn part of the day came when kindergarten student Kimberlee La Pierre, 5, unveiled a large ceramic tile mural made by students and staff to mark their school's 100th anniversary.
The 100th anniversary celebrations at St. Martin lasted for almost a week, beginning April 30 with a pancake breakfast and continuing the following day with students contributing items to the local food bank.
On May 3, following an anniversary Mass at St. Martin's Church, the school hosted an evening celebration for former staff, students and supporters.
Pictorial displays depicting the early history of St. Martin's at the rectory and the convent were set up. Also on display were 40 miniature models of St. Martin's School made by Grade 3 students.
Throughout the celebrations, the school paid homage to the Ukrainian Catholic Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate. The sisters provided teachers for St. Martin and St. Mary's schools from 1943 until 1985.
Varga is proud of her school and said despite the changes that have taken place over the decades, it remains a bastion of faith, respect and excellence in education.
"We share our faith with our students; there is a spirit in our school," she said.
Students walk the talk by helping the needy in town and in other parts of the world. In 2003-04, the school spelling bee raised more than $5,000 and the funds were used to buy two wells for a poor village in India.
- WCR photo by Ramon Gonzalez
St. Martin's principal Margit Varga blows out the candles of the birthday cake.
Half of the student population at St. Martin's is non-Catholic.
"Many choose St. Martin's because of the morals, the respect and the teachings that we give our children," Varga said.
Varga also thinks there is a sense of family at St. Martin's because teachers go above and beyond what is required of them to make students feel home.
"They are like mothers and fathers to them and I see that daily in their interactions," she said.
Students and parents seem to appreciate those connections.
"I love all the teachers," said Grade 6 student Cora Pawluk. "They teach me something new everyday."
Attending the May 2 birthday party was Mary Kisilevich and her granddaughter Kelsey, 5, who will begin kindergarten at St. Martin's in September. "We are three generations going to school here," she noted.
Kisilevich, a local hospital nurse, didn't attend St. Martin's, but remembers the stories her husband told. "When my husband came to school he didn't speak much English: he only knew Polish and Ukrainian, and so he was very scared," she said in an interview.
"When I walk into the school, one of the memories that I have is envisioning my husband running up and down the stairs and the nuns chasing him because he is scared and he is running away."
The Kisilevichs have always held St. Martin's in high esteem, she said. "The education is superb and we are very intimate with the teachers. Whenever there is a problem, we all band together and work it out."
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