MCHS Long Service Award recipients – back row: Kent Lessard (25 years), Carmen Huot (15 years), Patricia Cox (15 years), Colette Amyot-Loughren (20 years), Valerie Ferland (15 years), Kathy Jackson (15 years), David Garrett (30 years) and Lisa Appell (25 years). Front row: Susanne Christensen (15 years), Greg Boutestein (20 years), Cathy Whittal-Williams (25 years), Darcy Owen (15 years), Wade Michael (20 years), Neil Korotash (10 years). Absent: Sandee Blackburn (25 years). Collectively MCHS is celebrating 290 years of service with these 15 recipients. – Lucie Roy Photo

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Above: Notre Dame School Long Service Award recipients: Lena Bourgeois and Cyril Binette each 35 years, Marie-France Letourneau 25 years, and Jessica Miniaci (5 years). Absent: Sheri Crowston (10 year) and now retired Marlene Therres 35 years.

by Lucie Roy

Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools held their Long Service Awards at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre Thursday night. Ninety-six awards were given out for service ranging from five to 35 years.

Board Chair Noreen Radford gave the welcome and Assistant Superintendent Sean McGuinness served as Master of Ceremonies.

Twenty-four employees received 15-year awards, the largest category, followed by 22 receiving the 10-year recognition.

Three of the five 35-year awards were presented to École Notre Dame. Teacher Cyril Binette, Librarian Lena Bourgeois and (in absentia) Marlene Therres all received the honour.

“I have had the pleasure of educating and meeting the needs of a multitude of students with diverse learning needs while at the same time having the opportunity to make new friends and colleagues,” wrote Cyril Binette in a prepared statement, read by emcee McGuiness. “I have always believed that to be a good teacher you must have compassion for students, unlimited patience and understanding, a strong sense of humour and a keen desire to do your best to meet the needs of everyone around you.”

Binette was hired 35 years ago by Ray Pinco to teach Grade Six at Father Jan. Shortly after the interview he asked if he had the spare time as they were working on something in the gym. Binette said yes and the next thing he knew he was busy making plastic flowers and stapling them onto the Father Jan float. Pinco, with his passion for history, later became known as one of St. Albert’s well-known historians.

Binette said he also had the pleasure of teaching with Marie Poburan, who he described as a feisty French Canadian woman. “You could tell she loved kids, giving many a hug as she walked down the hallway,” he said. “When I was teaching at VJM, a retired Vincent J. Maloney walked through the door, in his early seventies by this time. He felt he just had to join us; he apologized for interrupting the staff meeting as he just wanted to tell us what a valuable service we were providing to the students and community of St. Albert. His encouragement and kind words meant a lot to all of us.”

Binette went on to recall many colleagues over the years, namesakes, who had positively influenced his teaching career and style.

“Their passion for teaching and the value they placed on teachers and teaching in our school community was second to none,” he said. “I have been fortunate to have always been surrounded by well-educated, enthusiastic and thoughtful colleagues who were always willing to share freely their many talents. I have truly been blessed to be able to teach for such a great School Division for all these years. After having mentored many student teachers and having worked with such dynamic colleagues, I have seen the enthusiasm and energy we all have for teaching. I only hope that I have been somewhat of a positive mentor for you as I was taught by the best.”

École Notre Dame librarian Lena Bourgeois said it was an honour to receive a 35-year service award from the district.

“My entire thirty years are with École Notre Dame as a Library Technician,” she said. “I enjoy watching the children grow, and it is awesome to see their faces when kids read for the first time. That never gets old.”

Bourgeois said the school library had changed over the years, evolving from a paper system to a fully automated computer system. “When students first started to sign out library books they printed their name on a card,” she recalled. “When the book was returned, the card was inserted into a pocket pasted on a book. I told a little student one time to put the card into his pocket, and he literally began to put the card into his back pocket. Today we teach the students how to use a mouse in the library.”

Another of the long-standing librarians memories were the merging of the Notre Dame and Vanier libraries and her fond memories of Christmas at the school.

“It is a special time where the halls are decorated, and concerts are the best where all students shine,” she said. “No one does it better. Also, I enjoy singing at the beginning and closing Masses with those special singing friends. Notre Dame is a second family to me; we support each other, and I look forward to making more good memories with my colleagues in the coming years.”

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Long Service Award recipients from Legal School were Vice Principal Cara Mazur (25 years) and Kathy Kieser (25 years).

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Primeau School Long Service Award recipients: Renate Karl (10 year), Colleen Durand (10 years), Jodi Ostafichuk (20 years), Jessica Workun (5 years), Cindy Vervynck (15 years) and Vince Falcone (20 years). Absent: Travis Hay (5 year award recipient).

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