Palliser staff celebrate Opening Day

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Son Kyle holds his father’s prized Noble Central Blades jacket, while Perry Luchia’s wife Sandra, at left, prepares to accept his Wall of Fame induction.

VULCAN — A new school year brings with it many changes, and Palliser Regional Schools is certainly no exception.  Staff at Wednesday’s Opening Day Celebration, however, were reminded to keep doing what they do best.

“A brand new year is upon us now,” said Sherryl Loman, a career and academic counsellor bringing greetings on behalf of support staff, who account for nearly half of all Palliser employees. “Go. Be. Awesome!”

Board Chair Robert Strauss echoed those sentiments, praising staff for their past accomplishments. He also welcomed all new staff to the division, and informed them a new superintendent should be in place by Oct. 1, pending ministerial approval.

While Palliser can’t disclose the name of that individual until Alberta Education gives the nod, it was announced Wednesday that Brian Andjelic will assume the position of Acting Superintdent Sept. 1.  Andjelic recently retired as superintendent of Prairie Rose School Division following a 38-year teaching career.

Strauss applauded the job done by Dr. Garry Andrews, who resumed his retirement Aug. 31, after serving as Acting Superintendent for nearl y the past 15 months.

Among the highlights of the celebration for staff was the the introduction of this year’s recipient of the Palliser Ambassador Award, Julie Macklin. A travelling art teacher at several of Palliser’s Hutterite colony schools – who this year will teach Grade 5 at R.I. Baker Middle School in Coaldale – she was recognized for the passion she instills in her students, and her compassion for the larger community.

Macklin’s Journey of Healing raised awareness and support for the Southern Alberta Children Advocacy Center’s work with victims of sexual abuse. Her 100-kilometre walk from Vulcan to Lethbridge began in September of 2016. Cut short by an injury she suffered, Macklin completed the journey this past June.

Ken Garringer, Palliser’s Associate Superintendent of Human Resources, thanked Macklin on behalf of the young people whose cause she championed. Palliser spearheaded the effort to open a child advocacy centre in Lethbridge.

“Thank you for providing them with the hope that there is a better tomorrow; that in the face of adversity and challenge, there can be support; when your world is crashing in, there can be security; and most importantly, there is always love,” he said.

Palliser Regional Schools’ Wall of Fame, which honours former students and staff,  also grew by two with the induction of Doug Overes (culinary arts) and Perry Luchia (aviation).

Luchia, who passed away in 2016, became Palliser’s first Wall of Famer to be inducted posthumously. After attending Noble Central School from Grades 1 through 12, he went on to roles as a ground crewman for the Snowbird aerobatic team, an Air Force pilot and a production test pilot for Bombardier Aerospace.

His wife Sandra and son Kyle accepted the award on his behalf. They took with them to the stage the high school basketball jacket Perry so proudly wore for many years afterward.

Overes, who attended Sunnyside School just outside of Lethbridge and Kate Andrews High School in Coaldale, is an accomplished chef, who graduated from the Professional Cooking Program at Lethbridge College in 1987.

He was named a Distinguished Alumni in 1992 and program chair at Lethbridge College in 2013, and has also earned gold medals in world culinary competitions with both Team Alberta and Team Canada.

To read more about this year's inductees into the Wall of Fame, or those from past years, CLICK HERE.

Palliser also salutes staff through long service awards. This year saw saw 192 people recognized for a total of 2,050 years of service to the division, ranging from those with five years of experience  to a pair of teachers, Deborah Sherren (Jennie Emery Elementary School) and Karen Vandenborn (Calgary Christian Elementary School) with 35 years apiece.

With the addition this year of Horizon Elementary School in Calgary, the Palliser family numbers nearly 1,000 counting teachers, administrators and support staff.  The division will welcome back some 8,300 students on the first day of class Tuesday, Sept. 5.

Palliser Regional Schools is a public school system serving students from Coaldale to Calgary.