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.
|The 2016 Tea Opener – Mr. Tom Lussier, principal of St. Paul’s High School
|The setup in the gym shortly prior to the opening of the Tea
|All of the tea servers were either past or present students of IHMS, and all were volunteers
This year, the Tea took place on Sunday, February 7, 2016 from 1:30 to 4:00 pm.
|An example of the poster used to advertise the Annual School Tea
|Mr. Picklyk and Sr. Anne were ready to greet people as they entered the Tea
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 event as large as the as the Annual School Tea requires a lot of hard working volunteers to keep things running smoothly. In the above photos, all the volunteer tea pourers are current students of IHMS
|The lettering on the wall of the gym for the Annual School Tea
|Grade 7 students were the “greeters” as people entered the front door
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 ”Holy Year of Mercy”.
|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 main table at the front. The procession was lead by Sr. Anne Pidskalny (the school’s director), and including Mr. Michael Banias (the school’s vice-principal), Most Reverend Lawrence Huculak, OSBM (Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in Canada), Mrs. Donna Sikorsky (Tea co-convernor), Mrs. Patrucia Maruschak (Tea co-convernor), Mr. Arnold Dumlao (vice-president of the IHMS Parent’s Guild), Mr. Slawomir Waplak (Chairperson of the IHMS Board of Trustees), and of course the Tea opener, Mr. Tom Lussier (current principal of St. Paul’s High School).
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.
|Mr. R. Picklyk, the principal of IHMS was Master of Ceremonies (top photo) and Most Reverend Lawrence Huculak, OSBM, Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in Canada said the opening prayer (bottom photo).
After the opening prayer, Mr. Picklyk introduced two dignitaries who spoke briefly on behalf of the group they represented. First was Mr. Arnold Dumlao, vice-president of the IHMS Parent’s Guild, who thanked the convenors for all their hard work, the coordinators for the different areas, the donors for the basket raffle, the parents for the 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. Anne Pidskalny, SSMI, the school’s kindergarten teacher as well as its director, greeted everyone on behalf of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, the order of Ukrainian religious sisters who own and run the school and have been doing so for over 110 years. Sr. Anne spoke briefly on the Holy Father’s declaration that this year, 2016, will be known as the “Holy Year of Mercy”. Sr. Anne went on to equate mercy with the greatest of all virtues, love. When the spirit of mercy is directed toward others who have wronged or offended us, we are actually showing much more than simply mercy – we are showing love!
|Sr. Anne Pidskalny, SSMI, the school’s kindergarten teacher and director
Mr. Picklyk then spoke briefly about the school, including it’s amazing 110 year history and its association with the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate. He also explained the setup in each of the classrooms for this year’s Tea, which including the Bake Room, the Display Room, the Raffle Room, and the Cloak Room in each of the downstairs classrooms, as well as a Children’s Room upstairs in the grade 4 classroom. He also mentioned that the Christmas Concert DVD’s and tickets for this March’s fund-raising dinner are available in the Display Room, as are copies of the school’s 100th anniversary book.
|Banner on the school website advertising the March Fundraising Dinner
Finally, Mr. Picklyk introduced this year’s Tea opener, Mr. Tom Lussier. Mr. Lussier is the current principal of St. Paul’s High School, and as of the beginning of the 2016-17 school year this fall, the Executive Director and principal of the Gonzaga Middle School in the Point Douglas neighbourhood of Winnipeg.
|This year’s Tea opener, Mr. Tom Lussier, principal of St. Paul’s High School
Mr. Lussier, who has been the principal of St. Paul’s High School for over 30 years, began his speech by mentioning some of his connections to Immaculate Heart of Mary School. For example, his brother Lorne started his teaching career at IHMS almost 36 years ago in 1980. In addition, since IHMS sends many of its graduating grade 8 boys to St. Paul’s High School every year, Mr. Lussier was very familiar with most of them, and mentioned the surnames of dozens of students who transferred to St. Paul’s after leaving IHMS, including our current vice-principal, Mr. Banias.
Mr. Lussier then addressed the theme of the Tea – The Holy Year of Mercy. He mentioned that the older he gets, the more he realizes something important – we all need God’s mercy because we’re all sinners. For 2016, the Holy Father has asked us to demonstrate mercy and compassion toward everyone, including those on the margins of society.
Mr. Lussier went on to mention a new school project he is currently involved in – a Jesuit run Nativity Model School in the Point Douglas area of Winnipeg. The school, called Gonzaga Middle School, is planned to open this summer and will be available to a limited number of carefully selected at-risk students growing up in Point Douglas, an area of Winnipeg with one of the lowest graduation rates in the city – only 55%. At the present time, there are 60 different Nativity Model Schools in operation around the world (Canada has one other in Regina), and these schools average an amazing graduation rate of 90%.
Gonzaga Middle School will operate out of the parish hall of St. Andrews Ukrainian Catholic Church, 160 Euclid Ave. So far, a million dollars have been spent on renovations.
|Photos of St. Andrews Ukrainian Catholic Church taken from the front (on Euclid Ave.) and from the side showing the parish hall
The school will begin operating this July with an introductory summer camp, and will have an extended school day and an extended year. Transportation to and from the school will be provided – students will be picked up at home and bused to school. The curriculum will be faith based, and it will have a long term adult mentoring program similar to Big Brothers. Registration is completely voluntary, and every application will be carefully considered for approval. The Gonzaga Middle School provides low income parents of children living in the Point Douglas area with a unique educational opportunity to break the cycle of poverty.
The Tea was officially opened after Mr. Lussier lit the two centerpiece candles.
|Mr. Lussier officially opening 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.
|A few of the parent volunteers who kept the Tea running smoothly
The Tea was organized by two very dedicated and talented IHMS parents, Mrs. Donna Sikorsky and Mrs. Patricia Maruschak – the fourth consecutive year for Mrs. Sikorsky and the third year for Mrs. Maruschak.
|Tea convenors Mrs. Patricia Maruschak (left) and Mrs. Donna Sikorsky (right)
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:
During the Tea, each of the K-4 classes were used for a special purpose.
The grade 4 classroom was the “Children’s Room”
In addition to making use of the usual 4 classrooms on the first floor of the school (the K-3 classrooms), this year another room, the grade 4 classroom on the second floor, was used as a “Children’s Room”. It’s been about 10 years since the school has had a “Children’s Room” as a part of the Annual Tea, and it seems to be a great idea! Children whose parents were busy volunteering were kept busy playing games (such as bingo) or watching videos under the supervision of Mrs. Justine Kruz and her team of helpers.
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! This year, in addition to baked goods, copies of the old IHMS Cookbook were also sold in the Bake Room for #10 each.
The grade 2 classroom was the “Display Room”
This room contained an assortment of displays. It included a display of items for sale from Oseredok, the Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Center located at 184 Alexander Avenue. Oseredok sells items that are either made in Ukraine or made by Canadians with a Ukrainian heritage. The Oseredok display had an assortment of beautiful and interesting items for sale.
|Items for sale from Oseredok, the Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Center
At another display table Mrs. Dudych, the school’s secretary, was selling tickets to the March fund-raising dinner, DVD’s of the Christmas concert, copies of the IHMS 100th anniversary book, and copies of “First Star” by Orycia Tracz, a collection of Ukrainian Christmas traditions. There was also a video on the soon to open Gonzaga Middle School.
The grade 1 classroom was the “Basket Raffle Room”
In the “Basket Raffle”, families donate items that are wrapped, itemized, and then raffled off.Tickets were:
In addition to 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.
The Kindergarten classroom was the “Cloak Room”
Student volunteers made sure everyone had a safe place to keep their coat while at the Tea.
|Grade 7 student volunteers in the cloak room
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 7, 2016 was around -11 degrees Celsius and relatively mild, but very blustery with a blowing snow advisory. This may have made driving difficult for some people.
|The weather on the day of the Tea was blustery with blowing snow
By the end of the day, hundreds of visitors passed through the school’s front doors, making the 2016 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 110 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 2016 Annual School Tea a spectacular success!