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Official start on new collegiate

Participating in the sod turning ceremony were (from left) Mayor Martin Harder, Morden-Winker MLA Cameron Friesen, division chair Sam Berg, Education Minister Nancy Allan, Garden Valley Collegiate principal Scott Jantzen and GVC student council co-presidents Jacylyn Janzen and Kelby Loeppky. (Winkler Times photo by Steven Sukkau)

By Don Radford

The sod-turning for the $30 million Northlands Parkway Collegiate is the beginning of the last part of a long process, Garden Valley School Division chair Sam Berg said last Thursday.

Addressing several dozen people who attended the ceremony in northeast Winkler, Berg described the sod-turning as the last leg of a relay race. He acknowledged the many people who have been part of the race, including past and present division trustees, administrators and local and provincial governments.

"I believe this will be a great facility to carry out our mission statement - to facilitate excellent education for children to become good neighbours, workers, and citizens," said Berg.

Being built to accommodate 800 students in 24 classrooms, the 112,00 sq. ft. Northlands Parkway has been designed with the future in mind and can be expanded to house another 200 students in eight new classrooms.

"This has been a long journey," said Education Minister Nancy Allan, adding, "Many of you here participated in that journey."

She said that journey involved hard work by many people, singling out former board chair Hilda Froese and superintendent Vern Reimer for their involvement.

"This facility will be a legacy for your community," Allan said, "And will serve your community for years and years to come."

Also participating in the ceremony were Mayor Martin Harder, Morden-Winkler MLA Cameron Friesen, Garden Valley Collegiate principal Scott Jantzen, architect Dudley Thompson and Penn-Co Construction project manager Len Letkeman. Letkeman noted his long connection with school projects in Winkler - his father was involved with the construction of Garden Valley Collegiate, Letkeman himself was site supervisor for the J.R. Walkof project and he is now working with his son on the NPC project.

Garden Valley Collegiate co-presidents Kelby Loeppky and Jaclyn Janzen said students were excited to see the NPC project underway and that the new school would mean the end of GVC's crowded hallways and long line-ups.

Hilda Froese, who served as division board chair during the years in which NPC was lobbied for, approved, planned and finally funded, said she was "super excited" to see the sod-turning.

She reflected on the long process that led to this point. "The need (for a new school) was identified. It (the need) was huge," she said, and the new school "had to happen."

She said she always felt "this building has to come. I had that vision all along."