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Providence Christian school turns sod for expansion

Students released helium-filled biodegradable balloons with notes carrying their names and reference to the sod-turning ceremony.

Students released helium-filled biodegradable balloons with notes carrying their names and reference to the sod-turning ceremony.

Students celebrate as the helium-filled biodegradable balloons float over Monarch.

Students celebrate as the helium-filled biodegradable balloons float over Monarch.

Students and guests lined up for cake at the end of the ceremony.

Students and guests lined up for cake at the end of the ceremony.

Janice VanMaanen, who was Providence Christian school's first Kindergarten teacher, and her husband John had the honour of being the first to turn the sod for the expansion.

Janice VanMaanen, who was Providence Christian school’s first Kindergarten teacher, and her husband John had the honour of being the first to turn the sod for the expansion.

Students, staff and long-time supporters celebrated Thursday as the sod was turned for a 9,000 sq. ft. expansion at Providence Christian school in Monarch.
The $1.3-million expansion will provide the school with a gymnasium, eight new classrooms, a commercial kitchen and offices.
“It is truly a pleasure that we can be here together on a sunny spring afternoon,” principal Hugo VanderHoek said. “There is already a sense of celebration in the air.”
VanderHoek opened the ceremony by reading from Psalm 126 which speaks about building, and that God is really the builder.
“It’s a joy to be at a spot . . . where this building is going to be and think of the fact the Lord God is present in this place, and that he intends good things for us,” VanderHoek said. “We have found all the evidence of that in the last months, weeks, the years of planning.”
Since the school was opened two decades ago there has been a desire to build a gymnasium to house sports as well as educational and community events.
The school society decided in January to move ahead with the project.
Fund-raising this year has generated $180,000 which, when combined with money set aside for the project in previous years, brought the school to more than half its $1.3-million goal.
Ian Donovan, who is campaigning for re-election as Little Bow MLA, praised the school community for taking on the project.
“It’s a truly proud moment when you see all the volunteers and all the time and effort that everybody has put into making this expansion possible,” Donovan said. “It just goes to show the pride you have in this community and your school.”
Coun. Henry Doeve sent greetings and encouragement on behalf of Lethbridge County council.
“To do the official ground-breaking we have invited people who have been long-time supporters of the school, who have been here from the very beginning,” VanderHoek said.
Providence Christian school’s first Kindergarten teacher Janice VanMaanen and her husband John put the first shovel in the ground Thursday.
The VanMaanens were then joined by their children and grandchildren, who are all past and present students at the school.
Long-time school supporters Henk and Sue VanRhee and their daughter Rachel were next on the shovels, followed by former principal Chris Heikoop and his family.
Site excavation is to begin immediately, with construction targeted to be completed next spring.
School board chairman Tim Meinen reminded the community of the support they had pledged for the project, and encouraged them to help with construction when called upon.
“As a community we’re going to need a lot of different talents to build this,” Meinen said.
Meinen said the project has already received strong support as shown by raising $180,000 in three months.
Meinen also praised the contributions of the ladies auxiliary, donors, the building committee and Westco Construction.
“I want to ask everybody to keep them in their prayers, because this will not happen without God’s help,” Meinen added.
Monarch Bethel Pastor Eric Moerdyk offered a prayer of dedication.
The students all had a chance to share in the sod-turning, and then released biodegradable balloons filled with helium into the sky.
The balloons carried cards bearing the names of the children and a note that they had been released on the day of the sod-turning ceremony.
“Maybe one of these days we’re going to get a note from Ottawa from someone who had found a balloon,” VanderHoek said.
School volunteers served cake to end the celebration.
At present Providence Christian has an enrollment of 110 students in Grade 1-12, with that number expected to grow in future years.

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