Mennonite institutions endure based on the hard work and dedication of those who believe in their impact on individuals and the broader community. On Jan. 31, 2018, Rockway Mennonite Collegiate will lose a passionate advocate for Mennonite education, one the school will sorely miss, when Dennis Wikerd retires as the school’s assistant principal after 39 years of service.
Following time with Mennonite Central Committee in Africa, Wikerd came to Rockway; in addition to leading the school through a variety of highs and lows, he built a strong language program and led the France/Germany Exchange for 21 consecutive years.
During those nearly four decades of service, he worked alongside five principals, who were uniform in their praise of his work and dedication to Rockway:
• William Kruger, the principal who hired him, noted that he was a great team person who understood the power of integrating faith and education, and was a strong diplomat when working with parents and teachers.
• Albert Lobe, principal from 1989 to ’96, commented, “Dennis was an anchor, consistently among the first to address challenges. He consistently rose above what tended to hold Rockway down. His vision, professionalism, dedication to kindness, attentiveness to honour, and his respect for students, faculty and staff were always on display.”
• Terry Schellenberg, principal from 1996 to 2009, noted that he was “deeply loyal, trustworthy and embodied ‘tradition’ in the best sense of the word. He gifted me with a commitment to memory—to an understanding of the patterns, commitments and rituals that shape a place like Rockway.”
• Betsy Petker, principal from 2010 to ’12, reflected on his personality, saying, “Although he has a quiet and reflective presence, his sharp wit often takes you by surprise; he can also cut right to the chase and say it like it is.”
• Ann L. Schultz, Rockway’s current principal, noted, “Dennis knows Rockway intimately and has lived out its mission in his faith and works. He has dedicated his career to Rockway, and it is clear that he loves it dearly. This has been demonstrated through his commitment to excellence in the classroom, his vision and passion for cross-cultural experiences and his love for students.”
On behalf of the thousands of students that he impacted, Rockway, its families and students say thank you.