Thanks to the generous support of the Vickar Family, prominent friends of JNF Canada, a project to build an education and life skills centre was undertaken at Megiddo High School in honour of Tova Vickar, who was a student at the school after she moved to Israel from post-war Europe. The project includes a modern auditorium and centers for learning and acquiring life skills for students with special needs. The best news is that construction of the auditorium was completed a few weeks ago, and it is already in use! If work continues at the same excellent pace, students can look forward to the learning centres being operational during the school year that just began on September 1.
The impressive auditorium is located in the Arts Center, where construction was completed in early August. Roni Attia, the school’s administrative director, was thrilled to report that the place is ready for the school year: “Two hundred and twelve durable seats, which will be serving us for many years, were installed in the auditorium, as well as high quality video and sound systems. The place is also accessible for people with special needs, including entrances and a passageway that are suitable for wheelchairs,” Attia said.
The first assembly in the new auditorium, a meeting for the teaching staff, took place towards the end of the summer vacation. Judging by the teachers’ reactions, it would almost seem that Hebrew lacks sufficient superlatives to express how amazed everyone was. School principal Liron Zakai summed it up:
“Thanks to this auditorium, we’ll have a suitable place for presentations-for staff, for students and for parents-for better education.”
At the entrance to the auditorium, art teacher Ruti Weiner was busy setting up an exhibition for the art students. “We’ve been waiting for the Arts Center for such a long time, and we are thrilled. I’m sure this gallery will flourish, and we’ll have many exhibitions here throughout the year,” she said as she went back to work positioning sculptures and hanging pictures.
Around the auditorium, tractors are still working on road repairs and a new square. The new building inspired the regional council to invest in renewing the roads in the school vicinity. “We see education as the main topic on our agenda,” said Yitzhak Holavsky, the Mayor of the Megiddo Regional Council, “and are investing most of our resources and energy in it.”
But this isn’t everything. Not far from the Arts Center, the Learning Center and the Center for Life Skills will soon be built. The old buildings once served as children’s houses, and now they will be upgraded and transformed into beautiful and comfortable learning centers. The students at the Megiddo Regional High School number about 850 and come from the thirteen communities in the Council. “Some of the students come to us with educational gaps or emotional difficulties,” noted the school principal. “It’s very important for us to accept them and advance them within the regular school system.”
Construction work for the Learning Centre and the Centre for Life Skills is scheduled to begin very soon. “All the plans have been approved, and the contractor has already been selected,” stated Roni Attia. “We are hoping to finish the work by the middle of the school year, and then we can start using these buildings.”
The Learning Centre will upgrade the school’s ability to give the best education available to students with special needs. It will include eight small classrooms, each of which will serve up to sixteen students, so they can be provided with support for appropriate learning programs, personal attention and individual assistance. The Centre for Life Skills is to include five small classrooms with round tables, around which students may sit together in an intimate atmosphere and participate in workshops for emotional empowerment, in order to strengthen their feeling of capability.
Liron Zakai, the school principal, has no doubts whatsoever that the new centres will help the special needs students succeed in their studies and pass their matriculation exams. “We’ll be able to give them learning skills in accordance with their needs and have workshops for reinforcing their self-confidence. All this will help them become responsible adults who will contribute to Israeli society,” says Zakai.
Larry and Tova Vickar, who visited the school last year when they were on a family tour in Israel, are not just supporters from afar. Tova is intimately connected to the high school, where she had been a student after her family moved to Israel from post-war Europe. She lived at the time in nearby Kibbutz Ramot Menashe, and the encounter with old childhood friends after so many years was an especially moving experience for her. But this wasn’t just about Tova’s past. Now, thanks to her family’s support, the school is being renewed and upgraded, to provide high-quality education for all its students.
“Our school excels in its achievements and also in teaching the students about values,” said the proud Mayor of the Council. “We thank the Vickar family from the bottom of our hearts for their major support in promoting education in our region.”