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St. Peter’s College reaches for new goals

By Paul Paproski, OSB


New stained glass windows in St. Peter’s College library have themes important to Benedictine education. The windows are part of an ongoing effort by the college to improve the learning atmosphere for students. Themes of the nine stained-glass windows include: love, prayer, stewardship, stability, conversion, obedience, discipline, humility and community. (Photo by Paul Paproski, OSB)

MUENSTER, Sask. — Students who spend time reading in St. Peter’s College (SPC) library now have a more pleasant atmosphere for their work, according to SPC president Robert Harasymchuk.

The library has nine stained glass windows that incorporate themes important to Benedictine education. The windows were funded by benefactors and are part of an ongoing effort by the college administration to offer quality education amidst a welcoming atmosphere, he said.

Plans are underway to find sponsors to place six stained glass windows in the hallway outside the library. The stained glass will bring more beauty to the walkway that connects the college to St. Peter’s Abbey guest wing and student residence. The college is already an impressive facility and the administration is always striving to make it even more beautiful, he remarked.

“It has already been 10 years since the college facilities were extensively renovated, with a $16 million investment in upgrading Michael Hall (the college building), the SportsPlex fitness centre and gym. We have state-of-the-art science labs, comfortable student lounges and study rooms, wi-fi throughout the buildings and great residences,” Harasymchuk commented.

Students have access to a curriculum that offers a large variety of courses that complete most first-year requirements for arts and science, business, education, engineering and a large number of professional programs at the University of Saskatchewan. New classes have been offered recently, in the Cree language (nêhiyawêwin}, religious studies, computer science, and writing. Student grades appear on University of Saskatchewan transcripts because SPC is an affiliate of the university.

The average class size at SPC is smaller than at the larger university, which means the student-teacher ratio is lower, giving students greater access to professors, he said. The average class size may have 15 - 18 students in the first year.

A two-year Writing Diploma program offers a large selection of writing and language classes, Harasymchuk remarked. The material prepares students for a career in writing and publishing, and it enables them to pursue a four-year degree program at the University of Saskatchewan.

The Student Services offices provide assistance in meeting the demands of course work and applying for more than $70,000 worth of SPC scholarships. Student Services personnel help plan events for students throughout the year, and is responsible, as well, for promoting SPC to communities across the province. The student recruitment staff will be expanded this fall — from two positions to three, he said.

The work of Student Services has helped increase enrolment over the past several years, in which more than 130 full- and part-time students have registered for classes each year. The college is anticipating enrollment to continue to be strong. Recruitment staff are promoting the college to a larger audience and plans are underway to offer a greater variety of courses.

“The college is always consulting with our alumni, donors, students, the Order of St. Benedict and the larger community to better understand the needs of our current and future learners. This helps to ensure we are always offering the right combination of courses and supports for academic and personal success,” Harasymchuk commented.

“We will be exploring some exciting projects for the coming years that will help us reduce our dependence on traditional energy sources and launch some innovative new programs.”

St. Peter’s College (Michael Hall) was built in 1921 when Abbot Michael Ott, OSB, was the leader of the Benedictine community. The building was named in honour of Abbot Michael who initiated the construction of the college. Michael Hall became a residential high school just after it opened in November of 1921. High school students lived in a dormitory on the top floor.

The building served as a monastery for the monks who lived on the third floor. They gathered for prayer in their chapel at the south end of the third floor. The other floors were reserved for offices and classrooms. Everyone ate in dining rooms on the bottom floor.

In 1926, the college became affiliated with the University of Saskatchewan. In 1968, it was registered as a corporate body. The 46,000-square-foot infrastructure was renovated between 2008 and 2012. The new fitness centre opened to students and staff in 2010.


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