New high school in Waverley West helping with overcrowding in city’s South End

Pembina Trails collegiate is helping alleviate overcrowding from Winnipeg's Vincent Massey and Fort Richmond collegiates, and principal Jacqui Kroeker says the staff and students are working on building a collaborative environment. Joanne Roberts reports.

After years of complaints Winnipeg’s south end does not have enough schools, the Pembina Trails School division has opened a new collegiate in Waverley West.

“The Waverly West Ward is the fastest growing quadrant in the City of Winnipeg. Our schools are overcrowded,” said Janice Lukes, Councillor for the area.

Jacqui Kroeker is the principal at Pembina Trails Collegiate, which currently teaches Grades 9 to 11. When she walks through the halls, she greets many students by name, and they seem glad to see her. Kroeker says it’s all part of the inclusive and collaborative environment the school is trying to build together.

“Our motto is ‘Creating innovative pathways for students,’ and so we really wanted to bring that innovation, sustainability – the school is being modeled in that way – and so we wanted to bring that alive for students.” Kroeker.

And that’s what we want. We want students to be empowered, to be in control of their education.

It’s clear students are responding to PTC’s way of teaching. Skye Kun is part of the school’s technical vocational programming – the first of its kind in the school division.

“I think that the community here is a lot more welcome and it feels, honestly, like a second home to me,” said Kun, a Grade 11 student.

Grade 11 Skye Kun stands beside a video game machine in the cybersecurity classroom. (Photo Credit: Joanne Roberts, CityNews)

Kun is finding community in the program and is currently working on building arcade machines with the class that will be part of future fundraisers for the school.

“It’s important for me because I’ve always been interested in IT software. Having the experience to come to PTC and help be a part of building these machines … I’m so glad that I got the opportunity to be a part of this,” explained Kun.

Kroeker says not only are staff and students working together, but there are visual reminders all over the school to ensure everyone knows they’re welcome… from a reflecting room to gathering spaces in the hallways.

“Students need to be prepared in a different way for society and life nowadays. School’s different from when we went to school and we wanted to bring that alive here. We had a blank slate so we thought, let’s just do it,” said Kroeker.

Vice Principal Jane Bachart, Grade 9 teacher Bryce Edie, and Principal Jacqui Kroeker at Pembina Trails Collegiate. (Photo Credit: Joanne Roberts, CityNews)

Staff say they’re also benefitting from the collaborative environment. Grade 9 teacher Bryce Edie says the experience he sees his students having is very different from his own high school experience.

“Sometimes I just sit back and watch … If you were to walk into my classroom today, you would probably never see me sit in my teacher’s desk other than to do attendance, and sometimes I even do that while I’m standing with my laptop around the room,” said Edie.

“You’ll see a busy classroom oftentimes, you’ll see students up and moving, that’s very different from what I experienced (in high school).”

Edie says it hasn’t been easy adapting to this non-traditional model of teaching, but he’s seeing everyone benefit.

“These students are wanting to ask questions, wanting to solve problems … When we have activities in the classroom and when we’re collaborating and when we’re asked to take part in these projects, it’s been very student-driven. Student-led,” said Edie.

“Something I’ve been used to as a teacher is kind of that narrow pathway and not having the opportunity to collaborate as much. Here at PTC, we get to and we need to collaborate … that allows us to go deeper with our learning.”

Lukes says the new school is long overdue for a neighbourhood seeing so much growth with new immigrants and families.

“This new high school, it’s fantastic because it’s alleviating the pressure off Vincent Massey Collegiate and it’s alleviating the pressure off Fort Richmond Collegiate,” said Lukes.

Grade 12 will be added to the school next year, and PTC says it’s looking forward to the new families that will find the school to be their new second home. 

-With files from Steve Anderson

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