Early School Days
The first school in our immediate area was built two and one half miles east of Elk Point on the south east corner of the quarter section of land now owned by Zane Sheplawy.
It was a one room school built in 1909. The children of our original settlers as well as the children living in Elk Point attended this school. The first teacher was Mrs. William Rockwell. This school was in continuous operation until the late 1920s and was then moved into Elk Point. A west wing was added on and it then became Elk Point's first high school. This building is still standing behind the United Church Hall and is currently used as a rummage store.
I first attended school in 1927. The school was actually a church, which was located about where Andy Miller now lives. My first teacher was Mrs. William Rockwell. She was also the first teacher of our first school. Sounds confusing, doesn't it? This school burned down when I was in grade two and a temporary school was set up in an old hall building located down the hill. I will always remember this school, especially the Christmas concert held there that year. I had to recite Simple Simon and I thought I knew my lines, however it didn't turn out that way. When the curtain opened up I was sitting on a high stool with a fishing rod in my hand and a pail of water resting on the floor. When I looked down on the crowd I developed stage fright. I managed to remember the first two lines of my recitation and there I sat, repeating the same line over and over again about four times. The crowd started to snicker, then laugh, and about then I was long gone. That ended my career as an actor. No one could ever get me to go on a stage again after that.
In 1929 a two room school was built just north of where our town hall now stands. Miss Veronica Miller taught one wing and Mrs. Hattie McQuillan taught the other wing. I spent five enjoyable years in this school and then graduated to the high school to the east of it. Mr. Jack Jensen and his wife Della were the teachers of this high school at the time. They had previously taken over from Jim Munn. Mr. Jensen and his wife remained at the head of this high school until 1941. He resigned soon after and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was followed by Mr. R. E. Beattie. About this time a third school was in operation in the vicinity of where our Royal Canadian Mounted Police barracks now stands. It was used as an elementary school.
In those days, there were no school buses operating. The children walked to school, rode a bicycle, came by horse and buggy or were driven to school in a car. Somehow they managed to get there. There was no school auditorium, the wide open space outside was our playground. When I attended school, the strap was commonly used when you didn't behave yourself. Now and then some parents would strongly resent when their child received a strapping, however in most cases they felt the teacher had a good reason and they left it at that. I got my share of strappings in school and when my father found out I usually ended up getting a second helping at home.
Most early schools had a pot belly stove to provide the heat. If you sat too close to the stove, you roasted and if you were too far away you froze to death. There were no drugs floating around in our schools in those days. When some one mentioned "grass" they meant the kind you cut with a hand lawn mower.
We didn't have much in the way of entertainment outside of a school dance once a month which was held in one of the two high school rooms. It was usually supervised by the school principal and was a well behaved event that was enjoyed by all.
We certainly didn't have the comforts that are known in schools today. We didn't have running water and it seemed the water in the dispenser was either too warm or frozen. Outdoor toilets were used at the time and you had to signal to the teacher by holding up your hand in order to get her permission to leave the room. Sometimes she didn't notice your signal and you ended up snapping your fingers as loud as you could-this really bugged her.
The strap is no longer used today. It seems someone convinced the school authorities that the children's constitutional rights were being violated when they were strapped, and so the use of a strap ended. I wish someone had thought of that sooner it would have saved me a few strappings.
It is hard to believe that all this happened over fifty years ago. We certainly didn't have everything going for us like the children have today, but somehow we still managed to get some kind of an education.