Inspiring Stories • Let Inspiration Shine

ATHLETICS

“I loved gym class. I am a jock at heart. Our coach was a phenomenal volleyball player and a great guy. He motivated us to excel.”

LOCATION

“I think location contributes to Westgate’s tight-knit community feeling. You’re downtown. Most of us commuted to the school. That meant we were not going home at lunch or right at the end of the day. We hung out at school with friends. We’d go out to eat together. Location is key to that feeling of community.”

STUDENT-TEACHER INTERACTIONS

“Teachers came from the same community a lot of times. If you had an older sibling, they taught them. They knew your parents. There were always those personal connections that led to students having a more personal interaction with teachers on a regular basis. At Westgate, you knew your teachers really cared.”

Kevin Warkentin (’87)
Corporate Director, Environment, Health and Safety,
Louisiana Pacific Corporation

CONNECTING STUDENTS TO CHURCH AND FAITH

“We are connected to particular churches and we’re accountable. That makes everything more real. We don’t just define Mennonite by some abstract definition. We’re trying to figure it out with the churches right now. We’re part of that discussion.”

CREATING HOPE

“Walking through places like Petra and Jerusalem during our trip to the Middle East and seeing the wonder on the student’s faces – it renews the experience for me every time. The debrief with our students later on has just been wonderful as they talk about situations like Israel and Palestine. That trip always makes me feel a bit more hopeful about situations in the world that feel like they’ll be never-ending sources of conflict.”

IMPACTING STUDENTS

“After they graduate, students remain a part of our community. I love seeing them coaching in the gym, helping out on retreats, making presentations in chapel, and even interrupting our classes to let us know what’s going on in their lives.”

James Friesen Westgate,
teacher and parent

LEAVING WESTGATE

“Westgate was like my second home for the past six years. It almost brings me to tears when I think about moving on. It is my family. I am really going to miss it a lot.”

INSPIRING SPACES

“Even students who were not heavily involved in music would go into the music room and make music together. Standing in that cramped little space, it felt like a sanctuary, like home.”

GIVING BACK

“The school has been there for us so we should be there for it as well. Parts of it are old, they need some updating. The school has had such a positive effect on students in the past. And I think with this redevelopment, the experience going forward will be that much more rewarding.”

Christina Thanisch-Smith (’15) Alumna,
first-year university student (Desautels Faculty of Music, the University of Manitoba)

DREAMING BIG

“The whole time you’re at Westgate, you look toward the future and how you’re going to impact the world. If you showed that kind of determination, the teachers would go all out for you. I gained this momentum being at Westgate that just carried through everything that followed.”

EMBRACING TECHNOLOGY

“Other schools in my neighbourhood had computer labs but Westgate at the time had one of the best labs in the city. I just remember going in at lunch and people were writing code and teaching each other.”

BOUNDLESS OPPORTUNITY

“Though it is known for religion and music, Westgate also has a really strong math and science program. A big part of where I am today are all those experiences I had around math and science there.”

Andrew Deonarine (’96)
BScH, MSc, MD, MHSc, PhD (Cantab), FRI, FRCPC CIP Chief Resident, UBC Public Health and Preventative Medicine Program

WORK ETHIC

“Westgate instilled in me the importance of attention to detail and challenged me to work hard. Especially in choir and band, where I learned how to constantly edit myself and make something new and better. Westgate does that with everything.”

SELF-DISCOVERY

“I would have never expected to have the musical part of my Westgate experience be so influential for me. For most of junior high and high school, I was more of a scientific person and interested in engineering or kinesiology. Then in Grade 12, things automatically switched.”

VOLUNTEERISM

“I would love to come back and help direct a musical or be an acting coach. I saw a lot of alumni help out with our musical. I would like to see what other passion for arts I can build in people, in the same way others helped build that passion in me.”

Nick Niebuhr (’15) Alumnus,
first-year university student (Desautels Faculty of Music, the University of Manitoba)

COMMUNITY

“My mom moved to British Columbia for a job during my last year of high school, so my sister and I were mostly alone in Winnipeg. I get emotional just thinking about how the staff rallied around me and supported me as a human being, not just as a student. A teacher helped me re-grout my bathroom once. It was real life stuff beyond the classroom.”

LESSONS

“I mess up all the time but I know that is okay. That God still loves me. I learned about that at Westgate for sure. It wasn’t just preached, it was modeled in the way everyone there showed love for you.”

EXPERIENCES

“Westgate instilled in me a real desire to explore. I went to the Middle East with Westgate. And that trip was so, so phenomenal. It inspired me to see people as human beings and not just as part of a crisis or a conflict.”

Chloe Bishop (’08) Alumna,
math teacher, R.B. Russell Vocational School

“A big portion of their friends are fellow Westgate grads. And when I look at how the kids are doing, they’re confident. It is not all about making about money. It is about, ‘How am I doing as a human being? How am I contributing? Am I happy?’ That’s huge. That, I see, largely coming from the Westgate community.”

“When I went to Westgate, the Principal greeted all the children there by name. He supported my concerns and assured me Westgate would give me what I needed: a community that would treat my girls as individuals and nurture their faith.”

April Hughes,
parent to Westgate grads Chlöe Bishop and Alicia Stick

LOVE CONNECTIONS

“I met my wife at Westgate and we basically fell in love during one of the operettas in Grade 11. I had the lead role, she was the supporting actress. We sent all four of our kids there. I am a friend of Westgate forever. How couldn’t I be?”

 

REDEVELOPMENT

“Westgate’s reputation is sound but a portion of the building isn’t. Let’s make them both sound. I think once we do that, then we can get on to the business of education. The students will have a greater sense of pride in their school.”

Martin Enns (’76) Alumnus,
Westgate parent, Captain, Station 26, Winnipeg Fire Department

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