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Leaving a legacy for students after leaving the classroom

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It started out as a fun-seeking retirees’ organization. Now it’s a dedicated group that meets twice a year right here in the community of St. Vital at the old Norberry School building on St. Mary’s Road and reaches out to students.

The St. Vital/St. Boniface/Norwood Retired Teachers’ & Support Staff Association (Riel Chapter) held its celebratory spring luncheon on April 25 at the Norberry Legacy Conference Centre.
Whew! Such a long title! But that’s what it takes to make it all-inclusive. We first called ourselves The St. Vital Retired Teachers’ Association in 1992. Soon the secretaries and other support staff wanted in, and the title was gladly amended to reflect that change.

Later, in 2002, when the St. Vital, Norwood, and St. Boniface School Divisions amalgamated and became the Louis Riel S.D., we lengthened the title again, pledging to continue holding our luncheons in late April and early October as before. Why give up these joyous, fruitful occasions?  

There’s such great camaraderie and community spirit, as our new superintendent observed in his after-luncheon speech in April.

It’s always energizing to meet up with former colleagues you’ve taught with, or curled with, or worked on educational committees with.  

(What was it Winston Churchill said about the no-no rule for ending a sentence with a preposition? "It’s the kind of nonsense up with which I will not put." Amen to that.)
We are now a formidable group — and our numbers are growing. This year, attendance at the luncheon was 117, the largest it’s ever been.

But we’ve grown in more ways than one. I wouldn’t be writing this article  except that I feel the public should know that the people who were hired to work in the area schools did not just go off to la-la land and forget the great privilege they had enjoyed in being hired by the divisions in the first place. Yes, they did try to catch up on some of the fun things they had always wanted to do — but they also remembered the school system that had helped make the present possible.

I am referring to the evolvement of the bursary fund that our committee set up to encourage present-day high school students to excel.

A brief history: First, the luncheons themselves have seen a surplus of funds, after a  canvass of the area for donations of door prizes. Some donors insisted that they be canvassed again for the next event — a worthwhile way to get their own services or goods advertised. As well, a golf tournament is set up each year in late September, with the proceeds again going into the bursary fund. Then there are the cash donations which are always graciously accepted.

Results: Each June we award three $500 bursary awards to high schools in St. Vital, and five $300 bursary awards to high schools in St Boniface-Norwood. The grand total of bursaries awarded up to and including June, 2012, was $18,000, which has helped 44 students with their post-secondary education.

Our retirees are proud to have aided these students. They in turn have expressed a heartfelt "Thank you."

It’s a mutually gratifying experience.

Anne Yanchyshyn is a community correspondent for St. Vital.

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