Earlier this year, Mother Teresa Middle School (MTMS) achieved a milestone when members of its first graduating class completed their high school education in June. Many of these students are now attending university.
It was a crowning achievement—both for the students and for the school, which caters to vulnerable inner-city youth in Regina in grades six to eight.
The students of MTMS come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. But they also have something else in common—a determination to learn and succeed. That determination paid off in spades for many of them this past spring.
MLT Aikins has been a supporter of MTMS since its inception and is pleased to have played a part in these students’ success. But it was the students themselves who proved that, no matter one’s circumstances, achieving greatness is possible through hard work and dedication.
Making a Real Difference
MTMS was founded by Paul J. Hill, president and CEO of Regina-based Harvard Developments Inc., eight years ago. It is modelled after similar schools found in some of the poorest neighbourhoods in large cities in the United States.
Students at MTMS receive uniforms, transportation to and from school, meals and snacks, in addition to a variety extracurricular activities and summer programs. They enjoy a world-class education from some of the best teachers available, with access to modern equipment and computers. They can even access complimentary dental care, optometry and mental health services thanks to volunteers from the community.
Maurice Laprairie, Q.C., a partner in the Regina office of MLT Aikins, is intimately involved with MTMS. He has been the school’s photographer since day one, and has personally taken, edited, printed and framed every school photo, from the day MTMS opened its doors up to now. He is also one of several MLT Aikins lawyers who volunteer at the school and are active in its mentoring program.
“We became involved primarily because I became aware of the school and was blown away by its incredible mission and wanted to be part of it,” Maurice says. “This school is making a real difference in the lives of inner-city children and their families.”
Maurice has witnessed that difference firsthand. Starting in grade seven, all students at MTMS are paired with a mentor from the business community. Maurice became a mentor to one such student seven years ago—a student who graduated high school earlier this year and is currently enrolled at the University of Regina.
Other lawyers at the firm—Turner Ralston, Lynsey Gaudin, Kristél Kriel and James Rose—have also served as mentors, and can attest to the positive impact MTMS has on students’ lives.
A Helping Hand
In addition to volunteering at MTMS, MLT Aikins has been happy to support the school in other ways.
The MLT Aikins Bursary, currently worth approximately $300,000, was established to provide financial assistance to MTMS students six years ago. The fund is replenished annually by donations from MLT Aikins lawyers.
Each year, approximately $15,000 is disbursed to the more than 150 students who are currently enrolled in MTMS or studying in high school or university. The fund covers everything from bus passes to graduation expenses, clothing and extracurricular activities—everything the students’ parents would pay for if they could afford to do so. The bursary is also used to defray some of the costs of post-secondary education.
Lawyers from MLT Aikins have been active supporters of the Regina Food Bank for well over 25 years. For the last five years, the students and staff of MTMS have joined in an annual MLT Aikins Christmas event—Volunteer Day at the Food Bank. This year, about 60 lawyers and staff from the firm were joined by another 60 students and staff from the school to bag a staggering 750 kilograms of rice, donated by financial contributions from MLT Aikins lawyers.
But the firm’s contributions have paled in comparison to the tenacity and work ethic displayed by the students who have passed through the doors of MTMS.
MLT Aikins applauds MTMS on eight years of success, and looks forward to seeing the school continue to enrich the lives of children in need for many years to come.