Friday, 13 July 2018 04:05

Community group supports Wymark School through ongoing fundraising

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SWT representatives visited Wymark School on June 28 to make a cheque presentation. From left to right, SWT farm marketing representatives Justin Senicar and Dave Elviss, Wymark School Principal Stephen Boss and Vice-principal Gay Rushka, and Wymark Futures Group Treasurer Peter Neufeld. SWT representatives visited Wymark School on June 28 to make a cheque presentation. From left to right, SWT farm marketing representatives Justin Senicar and Dave Elviss, Wymark School Principal Stephen Boss and Vice-principal Gay Rushka, and Wymark Futures Group Treasurer Peter Neufeld.

The efforts of a dedicated group of community members are helping Wymark School to make improvements to facilities at the school that benefit students as well as the wider community.

The goal of the Wymark Futures Group is to raise funds to sustain the viability of the school. The money is seen as an investment into the sustainability of the community through improvements that will be beneficial to academic and athletic programs at the school.
Peter Neufeld, a board member and treasurer of the Wymark Futures Group, said their main mandate is to support the school, but they will also consider the broader benefit to the community.
“When we look at a project, we look at a project that has more coverage than just the students of the school, but also to the community and to the parents and the various groups that are in the community,” he said.
The most recent fundraising initiative by the group is a good example of that philosophy. The Wymark Futures Group received a donation of $5,041.51 from South West Terminal (SWT) in support of the school's basketball program. The money was used for the installation of new basketball hoops and backboards in the gymnasium.
“This donation is huge,” Wymark School Principal Stephen Boss said. “We directed a lot of our funds towards this backboard project and a lot of items within our gym, but as a small school we can only put so much towards it. So to be able to put some of this funding back into our phys ed program means a lot for the kids.”
He noted that community members also benefit from this most recent upgrade as well as previous improvements to the school's gymnasium.
“We have different user groups that come in and rent our gymnasium,” he said. “We have a gymnastics group for example, we have different youth groups that come in and so we allow them the use of our equipment. It just makes a much nicer atmosphere for them when they come into a better gym and the facilities are better.”
According to Dave Elviss, a SWT farm marketing representative, the company wants to support the communities where they do business.
“We build our locations in smaller rural communities and it’s giving back to the community, that’s what we are,” he said. “That’s a goal of our company to give back to the communities and help the smaller rural communities prosper.”
This was the first time SWT made a donation that directly benefitted the school in Wymark.
“It’s investing in our youth and if’s there’s no youth coming up in the rural communities, it’s tough to keep them around,” he said. “So we like to see the community buildings and everything else prosper.”
SWT's business presence in the area has increased with the opening of a new fertilizer warehouse and retail location near Wymark along Highway No. 4 about two years ago.
“We’ve built it from ground up,” he said. “We never had existing business in the Wymark area. So when we were looking at our trading area, we have a location in Hazenmore, Gull Lake, Cabri, Shaunavon. So we wanted to put something in the middle and Wymark was the logical choice.”
The Wymark Futures Group is a non-profit, registered charity. It was established in June 2005 through a motion by the Wymark School local board, which determined that four school board members will be directors of the Futures Group along with five members of the Wymark community.
“One of the main needs we saw was that rural populations are continually eroding and with them the student populations,” Neufeld said. “We wanted to create a more sustainable future and more viable future for Wymark School in particular, and we knew that government funding was continually being cut to our school boards and that some of the needs that we might have would be seen more as wants and just couldn’t possibly be fit into the budget with the limited resources that the school board has.”
The Wymark Futures Group will approach businesses to ask for financial support, they submit applications for funding to the Saskatchewan Lotteries community grant program, and they organize fundraising initiatives.
“We have a silver collection at each Christmas concert that generates around $600 to $700,” he said. “We really are thankful for the support that the local community has for our group.”
Every year the group awards two $300 scholarships to former Wymark School students who graduate from the Swift Current Comprehensive High School. The criteria for these scholarships include academic achievement, community service, and displaying the values of Wymark School.
Since its inception the Wymark Futures Group has disbursed a total of $121,500 to the school for various improvements, including $80,000 for the construction of a stage in the school auditorium, $12,000 to purchase a security grill for the stage, $5,700 for a screen and projector, $6,000 for the purchase of new chairs for the auditorium, $6,700 for a new score clock, and $4,000 for new gymnasium wall padding.
“We always have goals that exceed what we have done, and I think that’s a good sign for any organization to have goals that exceed what you have done,” Neufeld said. “We would like to do more, but we too are limited by the resources that we can collect. I think overall we have achieved something that we can still be proud of as a group.”
Wymark School provides education for students from kindergarten to Grade 9. There were 146 students during the past school year. For Boss the word that comes to mind when he thinks about the Wymark Futures Group is partnership.
“A lot of the supports that they provide are in addition to the supports that the school division provides,” he said. “Our school division does a wonderful job assisting our school, and our Futures Group comes in to help fill any gaps within our building or in our area that would help. It just supplements what our school division is able to do.”

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Matthew Liebenberg


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