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Our Lady of the Way turns 25

By Ken Johnston

This Wednesday a special Anniversary Mass will be held at Our Lady of the Way School in Stratton.
It will mark the 25th Anniversary of the separate school and mark more than 102 years of such a school’s presence in Stratton.
When it opened in 1987 it was built to replace two smaller separate schools in Pinewood and Stratton. At the time OLWS Principal Mark Hyatt said, “We have a faith community with roots better than three-quarters of a century deep,” noting the first Stratton Separate School opened 77 years prior.
OLWS took nearly seven years to complete. Then Separate School Board Chair Dan Pierroz said, “Thank you for seven years of patience (parents) while (you) waited for this facility... because (you) believed in quality Catholic education.”
The completed school had a price tag of $1.2 million and featured a gymnasium, a library, a special education room, a soccer field and a baseball diamond.
Several dignitaries were on hand for the grand opening. They included Dir. of Education Garry Bates, Maurice Tremblay from Min. of Education, Anne Wilson and Delbert Horton from RR First Nation. Crucifixes for the classrooms and the classrooms themselves were blessed by The Very Reverend Monsignor Reginald Carroll.
The school also had three names when it opened to recognize the multicultural blend of students. They were Bakite Baabigwan (Ojibway for White Water Lily), Ecole Notre Dame du Chemin and Our Lady of the Way.
When it opened it had 128 students enrolled, a number that has declined this year to less than 20.
While enrolments have dropped, the school’s spirit is still alive and well. This Wednesday the public is invited to participate in an Anniversary Mass at the school at 9:30 a.m. A social will follow which is also open to the public.