I want to take us on a flashback to Archie School #744 as we knew it. The little yellow coloured school was situated on a hill with a farming district all around. Marking the landscape was a barn, a garbage barrel, a flagpole, a ball diamond and a beautiful row of pine trees.
The school was a small but unique entity. It was situated north of the Trans-Canada highway up PTH 41 to road 78 and then west toward the Saskatchewan border. The school was run by an elected School Board who were parents of the students. They made all the decisions that affected our social and educational lives. School Board meetings were held at least once a month. The teacher attended the first part of the meeting to give a report of how things were progressing, to express concerns and give input.
The curricula were set out by the Department of Education and were to be followed for each grade level and subject. The Department had regulations on the opening and closing activities, O Canada, bible reading, the Lord’s Prayer, and God Save the Queen. It was the responsibility of the teacher to report marks for each child for fall term, spring term and final marks prepared for June.
How was evaluation done? A school inspector visited the school three times a year. He talked to the students and asked to see their notebooks and workbooks. He questioned the children about different subject areas and asked them to read to him. Keeping work corrected was very important. The teacher’s daybook was inspected to see if it was followed and filled out daily. Inspectors earned their money!
The small school did not have a custodian. How was the school maintained? By the students and the teacher. One student would bring the water for drinking and washing our hands. We were all responsible for the neatness of our own desks. We cleaned the windows, swept and washed the floor, burned the garbage and cleaned the blackboard and brushes. All the surplus and left over water was put down the long, deep chemical toilet.
We were a small but close-knit school and we learned to get along, work together and learn from each other.
Archie School students participated in many special events and activities. At the Elkhorn Field Day we marched in the parade and competed in individual and group sports. On one special day for Archie, Billy Murphy and Doreen Gregg won trophies for their categories. Yeah!
At community celebrations for Halloween, Christmas concerts and year end picnics, children invited the whole district and would cater the lunch.
At the Virden Festival of the Arts, we participated in choral reading, spoken poetry, piano playing and folk dancing like “The Sailors’ Hornpipe”. There were no school buses to the event and children were driven to festival by parents. Gas was about 18 cents a gallon. Those were the days!
We went on nature hikes where we painted trees, gathered flowers and caught tadpoles from the sloughs. We all remember the ping-pong tournaments, the Friday meals at noon hour and the special tobogganing on Vargo’s Hill all the way to the ravine.
These are a few of my memories from Archie School days and I’m sure many of you have many wonderful stories to add.