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September 29, 2016 — After two and a half years of planning and preparation, Gonzaga Middle School (GMS) opened its doors to its first Grade 6 class this September becoming the second Jesuit endorsed Nativity-model school in Canada.   The opening of GMS represents an exciting opportunity for children from low income families in Winnipeg’s North End and North East Downtown. Like its sister school, Mother Teresa Middle School in Regina, GMS will help students develop to their full potential, to break the cycle of poverty and to become leaders for the service of others through its delivery of a Jesuit Nativity-model middle school education. 

In keeping with the best of the tradition of Jesuit education and the spirit of reconciliation called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, GMS is committed to being inclusive and respecting the faith and spiritual traditions of its students. The first Grade 6 class of 17 students of diverse backgrounds will be the lead group of students who will become the first Grade 7 class next year and the first graduating Grade 8 class the following year. 53% of the first class are from First Nation backgrounds, and 17% of Metis background, 17% are Newcomer Canadians of African heritage, 17% Canadians of European heritage and 6% Canadians of Asian heritage. Upon graduation, GMS will continue to provide support to students at the high school of their choice, independent or public. However, both the Sisters of the Holy Name of Jesus and Mary high school, St. Mary’s Academy (SMA) and St. Paul’s High School (SPHS) have agreed to accept and fully support qualified GMS graduates. 

gonzaga students

The school opening this September comes about thanks to the steadfast commitment, generosity and hard work of many people and the ongoing guidance and wisdom of the thoughtful, highly qualified Board and broader Advisory Committee.  In particular, it is thanks to the initial financial backing and support of Mr. Mark Chipman as Chairperson, Mr. Bob Puchniak as Vice-Chairperson and Mr. Steve Chipman as Secretary of the founding Board that GMS’ opening was made possible. The practical collaboration and logistical support of St. Paul’s High School, and especially President Fr. Len Altilia SJ, Business Manager Mr. Richard Pelda, Director of Information Technology Rob Merello and Librarian Jonine Bergen has also been instrumental in the successful opening of GMS. 

It is only with the support and engagement of the local community, GMS Board and Committee members, the Canadian Jesuits, alumni of SPHS and alumnae of SMA, the larger Winnipeg community and people of many faiths and backgrounds that GMS will thrive and serve its mission. We look forward to the exciting first year of GMS’ journey!

[Source: Gonzaga Middle School]

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