Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION

The mom with 850 extra kids

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A community is made up of many intricate puzzle pieces, all fitting together. A high school is one piece, and within high schools are staff members who make up additional pieces of the puzzle. Each and every staff member plays an important role in ensuring that the school day runs smoothly.

Patti Melnyk has been school secretary at West Kildonan Collegiate for three years. Prior to working there, she worked at West St. Paul School.

Some of the students who attended West St. Paul have attended West Kildonan and she is in awe of how mature and grown up they have become over the years.

"They become young adults and what’s even better is when they come back to visit while in university or whatever path they have chosen after high school," Melnyk said.

She describes the staff and students at West Kildonan as one big family that takes care of each other. As the West Kildonan "greeter" — as she characterizes herself — she is the first person people talk to when they enter the office.

"I feel like a mom to 850-plus students and I thrive on the interactions that I have with the public, parents, staff and students."

Melnyk hears and sees a lot in her role as school secretary and is eager to help by directing students and parents to other staff members who can help them further.

She recalls how, on occasion, some students have not been able to afford lunches  She alerts a staff member and the school ensures that these student have lunch.  

Melnyk has offered hugs to girls going through their first heartbreaks and shared in the joy of looking at pictures of grad dresses. She has offered looseleaf from her home supply to a student who did not have any.

Students feel comfortable coming into the office and talking to her about the little things. With Patti at the front desk, teenagers feel more inclined to reach out for help when they need it from the school. She says she will do whatever she can to help get a student through school.

She insists she is just a tiny piece of the puzzle , surrounded by wonderful staff.  But every job and role in a community is important and Patti is "just doing what I do."

"I love my job!" she said.

☐ ☐ ☐

The Paws for Prevention Walk takes place on Sunday, April 7 at 10 a.m.

The walk starts at the Rivergrove Pet Valu, 2595 Main St., and will continue to Kildonan Park along the east side of Main Street, and then return to Pet Valu.

Pledge forms are available for pick-up at the store. For further information, please call 204-334-5544.

Christina Hiebert is a community correspondent for Riverbend and Rivergrove. You can contact her at christina.hiebert@gmail.com.

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