It has been nearly six decades since the last elementary school opened in Steinbach. This week, dignitaries were on hand to throw the first scoops of dirt, officially commencing work on Steinbach's newest school.

According to the Manitoba Historical Society, Woodlawn School was the last elementary school to be built in Steinbach, opening in 1964 at a cost of $270,000. Prior to that, Elmdale School opened in 1954 at a cost of $130,000 including furnishings and before that, Southwood School in 1947 at $75,000.

Ron Falk is Board Chair for Hanover School Division. He says these used to be called elementary schools but today they are referred to as early years schools, educating children aged kindergarten to grade four.

"This is a very exciting day," says Falk, referring to Wednesday's sod-turning ceremony. 

The new school is scheduled to be completed in 2025 at an estimated cost of $39.7 million. It is going up on the west edge of Steinbach, off McKenzie Avenue. 

The school will provide space for 500 students and be capable of expanding to 600. Falk says it will certainly not be full when it opens. 

Drawings of new Steinbach school

If you have seen posters or signs regarding the school, you may have noticed it being referred to as West Steinbach Elementary School. Falk clarifies that is just a placeholder. He notes deciding the eventual name of the school is something that the Building Committee will work on. 

He notes there is an awful lot of work that needs to take place in addition to constructing the building. Everything from selecting teachers for the new school to hiring administration and custodial staff, to deciding what desks will be used, what books will fill the shelves in the library and what sort of equipment is needed in the gym. Not only that but there is also the fine-tuning of colour schemes.

Danielle Funk is Chair of the Building Committee. She says the goal is to create a transformative learning environment that nurtures growth, creativity and knowledge for all students who pass through the halls. 

"Our vision is to create more than just a building, it's to establish a hub of knowledge, creativity and growth," says Funk. "We want to provide our students with a space that inspires curiosity, fosters collaboration and allows them to explore their unique talents and passions."

Shelley Amos is Superintendent for Hanover School Division. She says Wednesday's sod-turning ceremony marks "a truly momentous occasion." She notes it was more than ten years ago when they started planning and envisioning a new early years school for Steinbach. 

"With immense gratitude and excitement, I stand before you to express our deepest thanks to all who have made this long-term vision a reality," adds Amos. 

The Superintendent says this new school will allow the division to create the conditions for an optimal, emotionally and physically supportive environment in order to provide opportunities where children can learn, thrive, explore and play. 

Steinbach MLA Kelvin Goertzen was also present at Wednesday's ceremony. He says this was one of the schools that he had the opportunity to announce, back in 2019 while he was Education Minister. 

"When you think of the growth of Steinbach and then you realize there hasn't been a new elementary school for decades built in this community, and so the need is obviously there," says Goertzen. "We know the need will continue because there is growth."

Goertzen says he has very strong and positive memories from his years at Elmdale School as a child. He says it is exciting to know that children will one day be creating their own memories in this new school and that these children will hopefully grow to become leaders in our community.

Meanwhile, Steinbach Mayor Earl Funk says with all of the sod-turning ceremonies that have happened in recent months, this one is very special because it has to do with education. 

"When you educate someone, you set them up for a lifetime of success," says Funk. "And that is what is so exciting about this."

Funk says this new school will continue to support the growth of Steinbach. He notes as our city continues to grow by leaps and bounds, it is great to know that our provincial government has chosen to make this investment which will set up Steinbach for success. 

Having attended Woodlawn School decades ago, Funk says a very special memory he has of that school was when Principal Wally Rempel allowed him to help paint the lines on the asphalt for their Pedal Pushers Club. 

"And I've held that memory forever, ever since grade six," he says. 


With files from Adi Loewen