The Annual School Tea, which traditionally takes place on the first Sunday in February, is by far the largest event on the school’s annual calendar. The Tea is primarily a fund raising event, but because its success depends entirely on the volunteer work of IHMS families, it has a secondary benefit as well – it brings parents together to work cooperatively towards a common goal, and in the process creates a sense of unity and fellowship within the IHMS community.
|Grade 7 volunteers opened the front door and welcomed visitors to the School Tea
|The setup in the gym shortly prior to the opening of the Tea
|The Annual School Tea also attracts a wide range of visitors beyond the families currently attending IHMS. Since the Tea is open to everyone, it’s a great way for former students to revisit the school to meet old friends and acquaintances. If fact, most of the table servers at the Tea were either present or past students of the school.
|This year, the Tea took place on Sunday, February 4, 2018 from 1:30 to 4:00 pm. The theme was:
Although the Tea officially began at 1:30 p.m., a lot of people arrived well in advance, sometimes directly after attending Sunday Liturgy services, in order to get a good seat in the gym for the opening speeches. People also came early to view the displays in the Exhibit Room, to enter tickets for the Basket Raffle, and to visit the Bake Room before it was sold out. Parent volunteers seen throughout the school (and many more working anonymously behind the scenes) kept things running smoothly to accommodate all the visitors to the Tea.
|An example of the poster used to advertise the Annual School Tea
It’s been a custom for years for the school to showcase examples of student artwork on the theme of the Annual School Tea. This artwork is displayed on hundreds of placemats arranged on the tables throughout the gym. Every student in the school created at least 2 colourful placemats based on the topic “Honouring the Ukrainian Catholic Woman’s League of Canada”
|Examples of placemats covered with student art
The Tea began at 1:30 p.m. with a call for attention by Mr. R. Picklyk, the principal of IHMS and Master of Ceremonies for the event. Mr. Picklyk asked everyone in attendance to stand and welcome a group of dignitaries that entered the gym and processed to the two main tables at the front. The procession was lead by Sr. Ruth Aney, SSMI.
|Sr. Ruth Aney, SSMI, led a group of dignitaries and speakers to the head table at the front of the gym at 1:30 p.m. Mr. Rod Picklyk, the school’s principal and Master of Ceremonies for the event, was already standing at the podium and welcomed them to their seats.
After welcoming everyone to the Tea, Mr. Picklyk introduced Most Reverend Lawrence Huculak, OSBM, Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in Canada who lead everyone in an opening prayer.
After the opening prayer, Mr. Picklyk introduced two dignitaries who spoke briefly on behalf of the group they represented. First was Mr. Arnold Dumlao, president of the IHMS Parent’s Guild, who thanked everyone involved in the Tea for their hard work and dedication, especially the two co-convenors, Mrs. Donna Sikorsky and Mrs. Patricia Maruschak, He also thanked the coordinators who organized parent volunteers in various areas of the Tea, especially Mrs. Donna Nowosad and Mrs. Penny Spewak who organized the main raffle, and Mrs. Kelly Bik and Mrs. Jenna Mendoza who spent several days putting together the basket raffles. Mr. Dumlao also thanked the donors for the basket raffle, the parents for the homemade baked goods, and all the volunteers who made this year’s Tea such a success.
|Mr. Arnold Dumlao, president of the IHMS Parent’s Guild
Secondly, Sr. Jean Zemliak, SSMI, a member of the IHMS Board of Trustees, spoke on behalf of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, the religious order who own and operate the school. She was very grateful and expressed this gratitude to the UCWLC, the Parent’s Guild (for fundraising), the many volunteers at the Tea, the principal and administrative staff of IHMS, the teaching staff, the Board of Directors, and the parents of the children at our school. She wished everyone a good time at the Tea, and ended with the SSMI motto: “Glory to God, Honour to Mary, Peace to us”.
|Sr. Jean Zemliak, SSMI, a member of the IHMS Board of Trustees
|After each dignitary completed their speech, Mr. Picklyk used the interlude to briefly discuss a few different topics of interest. He began by referring to the centerpiece logo for the UCWLC on the gym wall. Anyone interested in learning more about the significance of the logo can read about it on the UCWLC website – it’s very complicated but also very interesting and full of meaningful symbolism.
|Mr. Picklyk then informed everyone that all the placemats at the Tea were designed and drawn by IHMS students. Every student, from Kindergarten to grade 8 drew two different placemats on the theme of the Tea – “Honouring the Ukrainian Catholic Woman’s League of Canada”. Since most students would find the idea of a Ukrainian Catholic Woman’s League rather vague and difficult to conceptualize, classroom teachers explained the topic to their students and brainstormed ideas of how to draw the placemats.
|Mr. Picklyk was very impressed to see so many former students (alumni) volunteering at the Tea. This is always the case, especially with recent graduates who are excited about returning to IHMS to reconnect with old friends and former teachers. A few alumni attended as guests, but most of them graciously volunteered to work as Tea servers.
Also, although most people already knew, Mr. Picklyk reiterated the fact that the school’s new play structure, which was installed last summer, has been named in honour of the school’s recently retired long time Director and Kindergarten / Sadochok teacher, Sr. Anne Pidskalny SSMI.
Mr. Picklyk then announced the more recent news that IHMS will be terminating its current Sadochok program next fall and replacing it with a full time Kindergarten program. Immaculate Heart of Mary School will continue to operate a Nursery (Sadochok) School Program at St. Anne Ukrainian Catholic Church, located at 35 Marcie Street in North Kildonan.
Finally, Mr. Picklyk introduced the main speaker, Mrs. Sophie Manulak, UCWLC President, Archeparchy of Winnipeg Executive.
|Mrs. Sophie Manulak, UCWLC President, Archeparchy of Winnipeg Executive
|Mrs. Manulak began her speech by giving a short history of the UCWLC and how it’s assisted various other organizations over the years.
|For example, in 1956 the UCWLC was involved in the conversion of the old Children’s Hospital building on the corner of Main Street and Aberdeen into the current Holy Family Home. Another example: during their 1952 convention, the UCWLC resolved to help fund-raise in order to purchase new desks for St. Nicholas School (the school that eventually became IHMS).
Mrs. Manulak began her speech by giving a short history of the UCWLC and how it’s assisted various other organizations over the years. For example, in 1956 the UCWLC was involved in the conversion of the old Children’s Hospital building on the corner of Main Street and Aberdeen into the current Holy Family Home. Another example: during their 1952 convention, the UCWLC resolved to help fund-raise in order to purchase new desks for St. Nicholas School (the school that eventually became IHMS).
Currently, the UCWLC has11 branches in Winnipeg and 11 in rural Manitoba. Every one of these branches is involved in promoting and expanding the Ukrainian Catholic faith – they help keep churches operating through fund-raising, they’re involved in routine cleaning, performing regular maintenance, and many other essential duties in the day to day operation of a church. It’s possible that some of our current Ukrainian Catholic churches would have ceased to exist many years ago without the generosity of the UCWLC.
A group of hard working, visionary, and dedicated parishioners like the UCWLC can have a huge positive effect on the operation of a church. Unfortunately, as Mrs. Manulak noted at the conclusion of her speech, the future looks bleak for the UCWLC. Fewer women are becoming members, and the current membership is aging. Despite this, Mrs. Manulak is proud of the 75 years of good service that the UCWLC has provided for the Ukrainian Catholic faith.
The Tea was officially opened after Mrs. Manulak lit the two centerpiece candles. Of course, the Tea had already been in progress during the speeches. However, the ceremonial lighting of the candles is a symbolic gesture, and it signals the servers to begin begin serving the Tea.
|With Sr. Jean’s guidance, Mrs. Sophie Manulak officially opened the Tea by lighting the two centerpiece candles
The Annual School Tea is such a huge event that it can only happen through the hard work and dedication of a lot of people. Although everyone involved with the school played an important role in the Tea’s success (including teachers and students), the majority of the work was done by parent volunteers. A lot of these parents dedicated most of their weekend preparing for the event, while others worked tirelessly with the cleanup and reorganization of the downstairs classrooms after the event. A large group of parents also kept everything running smoothly by working anonymously behind the scenes during the Tea.
The Tea was organized by two very dedicated and talented IHMS parents, Mrs. Donna Sikorsky and Mrs. Patricia Maruschak – the sixth consecutive year for Mrs. Sikorsky and the fifth year for Mrs. Maruschak.
These two convenors spent countless hours co-ordinating the dozens of volunteers necessary to run the event. The results of the Tea speak for themselves because the two convenors obviously did a spectacular job!
|A few examples of the beautiful table settings at the Tea
Some of the volunteer co-ordinators and their areas of responsibility:
- Main Raffle – Donna Nowosad and Penny Spewak
- Basket Raffle – Kelly Bik and Jenna Mendoza
- Kitchen Coordinators – Melanie Arndt and Liezel Jacinto
- Reception Coordinator – Maryann Lee
- Server Coordinator – Leanne Olafson
- Bake Room Coordinator – Nataliya Demkowicz
- Children’s Room Coordinator – Halyna Shpak-Ivaniv
During the Tea, each of the K-3 classrooms on the first floor of the school were used for a special purpose.
|The grade 3 classroom was the “Bake Room”
The Bake Room has always been one of the more popular attractions at the Tea because everyone likes baked goods. Pastries, pies, and other goodies that were generously donated by the families at IHMS were sold here. Every family contributed 3-4 items for the Tea, and while some were used in the Tea room, the rest were sold in the Bake Room. With well over 100 families in the school, there was an incredible selection to choose from!
|The grade 2 classroom was the “Basket Raffle Room”
There are actually 2 separate raffles at the School Tea – the major Tea Raffle (with three Grand Prizes) and the Basket Raffle.
The Tea Raffle is one of the most important fund-raising components of the Tea. Tickets for the Raffle are printed and distributed to every family in the school to sell. In December, every family is given 2 booklets of tickets to sell. Most families end up purchasing the two booklets of tickets themselves.
In the “Basket Raffle”, families donate items that are wrapped, itemized, and then raffled off. Tickets were:
- 1 sheet of 25 tickets for $15
- 3 sheets (75 tickets) and 3 Grand Prize Ballots for $40.00
- Grand prize ballots were $5.00 each or $10.00 for 3
|The Basket Raffle Room
|The grade 1 classroom was the “Cloak Room”
Student volunteers made sure that visitors to the school had a safe place to keep their coats while at the Tea.
Grade 7 student volunteers Bethlehem T. and Amit G. took good care of everyone’s coats while they visited the Tea
|The Kindergarten classroom was the “Children’s Room”
Children whose parents were busy volunteering were kept busy playing games under the supervision of Mrs. Halyna Shpak-Ivaniv. Mrs Shpak-Ivaniv is the same parent who runs the school’s very successful “after school program”.
|The “Children’s Room” didn’t appear very busy this year, but Mrs Shpak-Ivaniv made sure that everyone was happy and kept busy with different activities.
Since the School Tea takes place during the coldest time of the year in Winnipeg, weather is always an important factor for visitor turnout. The afternoon temperature on Sunday, February 4, 2018 was very similar to last year’s School Tea – mild and overcast with grey low hanging clouds. It was a bit dreary but reasonably good weather for the school Tea.
|The weather was grey and dreary on the afternoon of the School Tea
|On the afternoon of the School Tea, the temperature was -17 C and the windchill was -25 C, very typical weather conditions for the beginning of February in Winnipeg.
By the end of the day, hundreds of visitors passed through the school’s front doors, making the 2018 version of the Annual Tea a complete success. The hard work of everyone involved in the undertaking of an event this large is a testament to the strong community spirit and sense of volunteerism that has held Immaculate Heart of Mary School together for over 112 years. Thanks to everyone who helped to make the Tea such a success, and see you again next year!
|Hundreds of visitors passed through the doors of IHMS, making the 2018 Annual School Tea a spectacular success!