On Thursday, Jan. 31, St Boniface Diocesan High School on Dubuc Street will undergo one of its biggest changes in the last 41 years.
I’m not talking about a new paint job or a renovation. Steve Boyko, the school’s science teacher for the last 41 years, will be hanging up his lab coat for the last time.
The Catholic co-ed high school is about to lose an extraordinary physics, chemistry and math teacher. He has written or co-authored courses in Grade 11 and 12 physics for Manitoba Education’s Distance Learning Unit and served on committees that helped create Grade 11 and 12 chemistry courses currently in use in Manitoba high schools. There is no one who knows his subjects better.
Steve’s knowledge base is exemplary, but it’s his gentle and persistent way of sculpting souls that will always be remembered by his students. They appreciated how hard he worked with them to build their science and math skills.
Sheila Lynch-Mondor, a 1983 grad, recalls how much Boyko worked with her in Chemistry class: " Mr. Boyko spent every break and lunch hour to get me through that course. I’ve never forgotten his dedication."
2013 St. B. student, J.P. Austria, thinks of the high school without Mr. Boyko: "His classes have the highest reputation for getting students ready for university, we’ll miss him. He’s practically a legend."
Steve is more than just a science teacher. This year, he’s helping a team of students create a hovercraft for the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Discovery Competition. Over the years, he coached volleyball teams, built props and stages for drama productions, completed a stint as acting principal in the school, and even sang lead vocals with the staff air band during such memorable tunes as Wild Thing and Splish Splash.
The veteran teacher has some fond memories of his time at St. B.
"Teaching is a gift," he says. "I’ll miss it — serving the kids, trying to keep their attention, getting them to comprehend something that, at first, is difficult. Helping students, that’s why I stayed so long."
Steve will be a tough guy to replace. But the school thinks they’ve found a good candidate. Geoff Richardson, a 1995 St. B. grad and current teacher in the school, will take over Steve’s science course load in the new year.
"Mr. Boyko was my teacher, I have so much respect for him. He sparked my love for learning science," Richardson says.
The passing of the torch should be a smooth one. After all, Geoff was groomed under the kind and knowledgeable eye of his mentor.
Steve will miss his life as a teacher.
"I’ll miss the staff and the closeness of working on a team, and I’ll really miss teaching my subject’,’ he says. "There is never a dull day in a classroom."
In retirement, Steve will continue to work with students as a tutor-marker for Manitoba Education’s Distance Learning Unit. He also looks forward to spending more time with his three grandchildren.
The school intends to hold a formal farewell in the spring.
Adriano Magnifico is a community correspondent for St. Boniface. You can contact him at email@example.com.