UMEI was born as a solution to a problem. The problem 75 years ago was that Mennonite young people were being pressured by the demands of WW2. Mennonites have always put great value on the education of their young people, and the founding of a new school, UMEI, was their response. At first, in a church basement, then in a new building on Concession 6 (1947), a new auditorium (1950), a chapel dome (1971…now gone), a new gymnasium/lab (1974), and a new chapel (2000), the school educated its students in a Christian context in order to prepare them for the demands of a changing world. Of course, lots of problem-solving happened along the way over 75 years. How could the costs of educating these young people be borne? How could the school be built and rebuilt and maintained? Where would board members be found? Where would generous donors be found? Where would qualified, gifted teachers be found? Where would students be found? Each of these questions, supported with prayer and diligent consideration, continue to be solved.
75 years later the school is still solving problems, still educating young people, still operating on the sixth. Although it is fully sanctioned and inspected by the Ontario government, ironically, no government funding has ever been offered. That challenge, along with many others, has kept the school and its supporters busy over three-quarters of a century!
Solving problems has never been easy work…but for the supporters of UMEI, this has been important work. The 1200 graduates of this little “School on the Sixth” are UMEI Christian High School’s contribution to solving the problems of the world. Somehow, UMEI students, in their academic studies, but also through absorbing the culture of the school, and in the promises of our Faith, have become ambassadors in problem solving. In this year we celebrate 75 years of facing issues and solving problems, and of teaching these skills to our students and our community and the world.
- Vic Winter