Menno Simons bids farewell to $4.5-million mortgage

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Principal Byron Thiessen and Vice-Principal Bev Wiens prepare for the Mortgage Burning Celebration.

Students, staff and long-time supporters of Menno Simons Christian School celebrated the retirement of the Mennonite Educational Society of Calgary’s $4.5-million mortgage at a special ceremony Friday, March 4.

The mortgage helped the society purchase property on Springbank Hill and build a 38,000-square-foot school, which welcomed students for the first time on Sept. 4, 2001.

The school first opened in September 1983 with 56 students who attended classes in rented space at the St. Patrick’s School building. Over the years, students and staff relocated to three other school buildings – St. Charles, Wildwood and Manchester. In 1997, the society purchased property on Northmount Drive, quickly outgrowing that site, before purchasing and building on the current location at 7000 Elkton Drive SW, Calgary.

The society formed a partnership with Palliser Regional Schools and Menno Simons Christian School became a faith-based alternative program in Palliser for the 2006-2007 school year.

The last two Sweet Interlude Fundraisers allowed the society to make a lump sum payment on the mortgage of $100,000, and the final payment was made on June 30, 2015.

Rudy Janssen Sr., who served on the initial society board, was among guests at the Special Mortgage Burning Chapel service.

"I watched as the students entered the building on the first day and I stood to the side and wept tears of joy,” he said, recalling the school’s opening. “I couldn't believe it was really happening."

Today, the school serves about 210 students from kindergarten through Grade 9. Two of Janssen’s great-grandchildren attend the school.

To celebrate this milestone, individual letters spelling “Mortgage Deed” were burned.

Students, staff and guests, including Palliser Trustee Esther Willms and Director of Human Resources Ryan Brennan, were invited to add their fingerprints as leaves on a tree. The resulting unique work of art reflects the school’s spiritual theme for this year, “From the Roots Up Leadership.” The art will be displayed at the school.