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Inaugural WMS Builder Award and recipients announced

WINNIPEG, Manitoba—Winnipeg Mennonite School (WMS) is excited to announce the creation of the WMS Builder Award and its first inductees. The awards will be presented at the WMS Gala on May 2, 2024.

WMS has thrived for 42 years thanks to our community's hard work and generosity. Many individuals have contributed to the school’s success in significant ways throughout the years. The WMS Builder Award was created to acknowledge these individuals' contributions publicly.

The WMS Builder Award will be presented each year to individuals who have made outstanding, significant contributions to Winnipeg Mennonite School's ongoing success. WMS parents, staff, and Board members can make nominations during the school year. The award recipients will be determined by the WMS Board in March of each year and presented at the WMS Gala.

As this is the award's inaugural year, the WMS Board has chosen six recipients for the 2024 WMS Builder Award. This year's award winners are the five founding members of WMS and CEO/Superintendent Lawrence Hamm.

Five Founding Members

WMS was founded by five Mennonite community members who recognized a desire for an independent Mennonite elementary school. Dave Epp, Helmut Harder, and John J Enns met in November 1980 to discuss the possibility of starting a Mennonite elementary school. Within six months, the three of them had built the foundation of WMES Inc., paving the way for the first 50 students to enter Landsdowne School in September 1981. Epp oversaw the initial committees, providing leadership and guidance for the group. Enns worked closely with the Manitoba government, securing everything needed to start a new private school. Harder played a vital role in shaping the philosophy and faith of the new school and was heavily involved in the initial staff hiring process.

Dr. David Friesen agreed to fund the fledgling school, giving WMES Inc. financial stability through its first five years of operation. The Friesen Family Foundation agreed to underwrite any financial shortfalls for a period of five years and went above and beyond by donating additional funds towards the bursary program, allowing all families to attend. Katherine Friesen, a career teacher, provided substantial ongoing support throughout the years, leading the WMES Inc. Board to name the Fort Garry campus in her honour. 

Lawrence Hamm

Lawrence Hamm joined WMS as Superintendent/CEO of Winnipeg Mennonite Elementary Schools Inc. in 2007. Hamm was an educational leader in RETSD before transitioning to WMS. During his leadership, the Bedson Campus building was officially purchased, and a daycare was added. The Katherine Friesen Campus saw multiple expansions and renovations, including the large addition in 2019 that added grades 7 and 8. Hamm is actively involved as an executive member of the Manitoba Federation of Independent Schools and an advocate for both WMS and independent schools across Manitoba.


Hamm served as the full-time Superintendent/CEO until he took medical leave in 2021. He continues supporting and guiding WMS and serves as a Foundations for a Lifetime Capital Campaign Honourary Co-Chairperson. 



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