Expansion, both physically and in the types of programs on offer, was the impetus for Woodland Christian High School’s acquisition of 72 acres adjacent to its Breslau campus.
The deal with Weiland Investments Inc. closed September 1, just ahead of the new school year. But its roots go back to the start of the pandemic, as Woodland’s board of directors looked to increase the programming options at the Spitzig Road location, says the school’s principal.
“Historically, there’s been a lot of things that we’ve done really well: provided a strong academic program, prepared students well for next levels of education. If there has been a weakness, it’s we’ve not been able to offer students who are going more into the skilled trades as many opportunities as we would have liked,” explained John Van Pelt.
“In the last strategic plan, after consulting with all kinds of stakeholders, it became clear that we needed to begin to address that, so that started the conversation. It was a ‘How can we meet the needs of a larger group of parents who want Christian education? And how do we diversify our program and ensure we have the facility and the space to do that?’”
That process led to talks with the owners of the adjoining property under the auspices of Weiland Investments Inc.
“There was land available to us through the Weiland family. It was a favourable position, and they were happy to work with us. Actually, I think to some extent, kind of excited to see land that had been in their family for a long time be used specifically for this kind of purpose,” said Van Pelt.
Having decided that expansion was in order, Woodland carried on some specific fundraising that allowed for the purchase. More fundraising will be needed to construct the new tech centre planned for the new property, with Van Pelt looking to the fall of 2025 as the target date, noting “there’s a lot of things that have to work favourably for that to happen.”
In the meantime, the 42 acres of forested area will provide outdoor space for physical education, science classes and a host of other options, he added.
Designated as agricultural, much of the property will continue to be used as such, including the current lease for cash cropping.
“Agriculture is a big part of it. There’s also a maple syrup bush in the back that a company rents out to make maple syrup. So the long-term potential for the school, who knows what could go in there. Community gardens? The market would be agricultural,” said Paul Branan, Woodland’s advancement director.
“There are all sorts of opportunities for our woodshop to go over there. Perhaps some space for a robotics program. We’ll cross those bridges when we come to it, but this was the first step,” he said of the land acquisition.
“All of what we do with it has to be come in line with appropriate uses for agricultural property. We’re committed to that,” said Van Pelt of maintaining the agricultural focus.