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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - June 9, 1970, Lethbridge, Alberta TM.r UfTMni'irKVf MERAtr1 Tiiojrluv, .'urii Central School "greatest educational event" I i By JDI WILSON Herald Kducation Writer School in Uiose days start- ed around Aug. 21 and lasted until the end of June, al- though many rural children were students only from about mid-October to mid-May. Teachers with first class teaching certificates cculd make as much as S8-15.40 a year if they were -men1 (but only if they were wo- An average salary for an uncertified teacher was less than a month. The time was 1909, and Lethbridge was in the midst of its first student population and school construction ex- plosion. The city's two brick schools and five or more frame schools had become badly overcrowded, and His Leth- bridge Protestant P u b 1 ic since it would be the largest school in the city. For a time, however, it was called "the new Central School" since the former elementary school had had the same name. The older school, built a few years earlier was r.e- clesignated as The High School, and boasted four full rooms of students. The npnr Centra] School by W. S. Galbraith, Esq., a school trustee. Premier Rutherford con- gratulated Lethbridge citi- zens for their new school, and told them the existing teach- er shortage would soon be solved by the large numbers of teachers coming from Great Britain and the United States. The Lethbridge Daily Herald, a bit prejudiced termed the school's opening "the greatest event in the educational history of this city." The school had 12 rooms, and was described as "a noble building three storeys high, with a full basement." Each classroom was, and still is, equipped with its own "commodious cloak and the school had an "emer- jency room, in dainty white, and to the right of the south entrance is the lady teachers' room with its cozy chairs and restful couch." The prideful descriptions Ornate bannisters School Board had a year pre- viously ordered construction of a large new school. School trustees led by board chairman J. II. Fleet- wood decided to name their new building Central School, cost to build bor- rowed at six per cent inter- est according to Public School Bylaw No. 7 and vlO.COO to equip and furnish. Its cornerstone was laid "With Full Masonic Honours By The Grand Lodge of Al- berta, A.F. and A.M." on July 9, 1908, but formal open- ing ceremonies waited until April 13, 1S09. special guest at the open- Ing ceremonies was Alberta's first Premier, A. C. Ruther- ford, who was also minister of education. According to the program for opening day, guests were also treated to musical selec- tions from Harper's Juvenile Orchestra and "an address The- Bell Tower may sound somewhat trite, but the school was at that time one of the best in Al- berta, and cost more than most schools in the province. With Central School's open- ing, the city had 26 class- rooms, capable of accom- modating about 950 students, plus a small separate school. By the end of 1909 the 950 students were already in the schools, and school trustees decided another school had to be built as soon as possible. The new school was locally- designed and financed in 1910, and opened in the fall of 1S11. According to Public School Bylaw No. 11, the school cost borrowed at five per cent interest. Trustees departed from the relatively anonymous names ether schools had been given, and honored their board chairman, J. H. Flectwood, by naming the new school after him. Mr. Fleetwood had been active in Lcthbridge. educa- tion development sinee 1900, and had been board chair- man since 1905. He was also tile chief, organizer of the Al- berta School Trustees' Asso- ciation in 1907, and one its first presidents. Fleetwood School, opened Nov. 24, 1911, had eight class- rooms bringing the city's total to 34. It boasted all of the latest innovations in edu- cation, including adjustable desks that permitted students to sit up straight while prac- tising writing, instead of bending down. And Fleetwood, The Leth- bridge Daily Herald announc- ed proudly on the school's opening day, brought the total value of city schools to al- most SaOO.COO. {Today, t h e Lethbridge public and separate school districts own 22 buildings be- tween them, valued at more than million.) The enrolment in the city's nine schools in 1911 was students swelling at times to more than (Today it is about Central School today is Ills HISTORIC BOARD One of Lethbridge's most-commemorated school board-, was this one, which ordered construction of Heclwood School in 1 91 Standing wus superintendent VV. A. Hamilton, who started Alberta's first ianderaarten in wnat is now tne OldhnK'rs' Pemmican Ciub at 5th Ave. and 9th St. 5. He was also ono of the first three full-time schools superintendents in the province. Trustees from left to right: R. D. Wallace; Dr. and later Brigadier-General J. S. Stewart who was a Conservative MP for many years; Dr. S. Galbraith, who ciisa a city councillor; .1. M. Hcetwcod, board chairman, who was n major founder of the Alberta School Trustees' Association; G. !i. Bowman, school district secretary-treasurer; and O. D. Austin. chool Fleefwood Scnool "best ideas in school building" By Bryan Wilson oldest remaining school hi the city. The original Central School, which became the city's first high school, was eventually- demolished, but for several years had an interesting va- riety of uses. Shortly after the new Cen- tral School opened, for ex- ample, tiie older one was put to partial use as a hostel for transients. The city was being inundated by travellers at the time, and on some nights needed more than 300 extra beds. Hotels for some time after, Spring Fever sent travellers to the school tor the night when they full up. The hostel was oper- ated for the city by II. S. Skelton, who was paid S75 a month more than most teachers received. Most school costs in those years were born by city taxpayers. The city had to supply funds for all school construction, and the pro- vincial department of educa- tion supplied two thirds of the operating budget. A school could be establish- ed in any district with a minimum of 12 students. Two thirds of Alberta's 943 teachers in 1909 were women, and many people were lamenting the increas- ing co educational outlook of the schools. The Lethoridge Daily Herald, ill fact, wondered "whether it should be re- garded as an advantage or not that the schools have been fenu'nized to the extent that they have." Salaries in Western Canada were reportedly higher than in the east, and there was a new normal school to train teachers in Calgary. Led by Principal G. J. Bryan, it graduated 108 teachers in 1S08. A new university at Stralh- cona (now a part of Edmon- ton) had been started, and in 1908 it had five professors and 40 students. Lethbridge school trustees said they hop- ed the university would soon train teachers. Help wanted advertise- ments were seeking a good and "a good young lady to wait on the table" at 416 Round Street in Lethbridge. A "small new house" was available for rental for only per months, and other" houses were available at an average per month. Ty Cobb had just finished batting a .420 average for Detroit when the city ap- proved a new post office, to cost more than com- pletely furnished the one Lethbridge still uses. Complaints were common about "too many permit teachers" being allowed to teach in city schools. These the teachers without certificates who were simply allowed to teach. The problem was aggra- vated by the lack of high school graduates in the west only 20 per cent of stu- dents ever entered junior high school, and only about three per cent continued into high school. The elementary school was given substantial financial support, but high schools were for. the most part poorly equipped and only a sec- ondary priority where money was concerned. Most school officials were becoming concerned about the relatively weak high schools, and several moves were afoot to change the fin- ancing priorities so thay (hey could be improved. Qualified teachers wore at- tracted to the west by higher salaries and opportunities but according to the Lclh- bridge Daily Herald, "the attractions of business and of land-getting make the aver- age stay of a teacher about two years." A sign of the flexible at- titude toward school use In 191] was the official school board decision that "Janitor Wilcox will be given permis- sion to use one of the rooms of the basement for the win- ter." In 1911 Lethbridge welcom- ed its first home grown teacher, W. E. Frame, who after graduating from the Lethbridge High School and Calgary Normal School re- turned to take a job at ?SOO a year. The salary wasn't quite as bad as it sounds: live theatre cost 35 cents, suits were to <525, tail at the Alexandra Dining Salon was 10 cents, dinner was' 25 cents and "union, all white" help. The 1911 salary schedule was said to be "almost double" that of the first teachers in Lethbridge, era- Bros, and Wilson. Time moves on, however and after assisting almost Lethbridge residents (Max Moscovich, Claude Boulton, George Watson, Iva Hamilton, Nellie Robison, to name a few of .the first) the schools will soon be demolish- ed. The additiof- to the Susie Bawdcn Elementary School will be completed late ifl tha fall, and students from Cen- tral and Fleetwood will move to the addition. Fleetwood, which has had only two principals in 59 years (Chauncey BrandW from 1911 to 1939 and Joe Lalde from then to ths pres- will almost certainly be demolished, since the new Susie Bawden school will need the playground space. And Central, whose current And today, a staff room from the past ployed after the school board's first meeting on March 25, 1886, with Leth- bridge pioneer and coal miner William Stafford pre- siding as chairman. The first school building was in the liverbotlom, and mis a renovated and much older building from tile coal mining town. It was vacated in 1830 when the all-brick construction six-room "old" Central School was com- pleted. By 1911 the city toasted the old and new Central Schools, and the Flectwocd School, all built by Smith principal is Lloyd Flaig, will likely be sold to the highest bidder although many, including Mr. Flaig and Gait Museum dircc t o r George Watson hope it might be put !o use and maintained as a historic site. One suggestion currently being made is to convert Central into a transient hos- tel; others suggest using it as special museum. Central school is one of the most ideal locations in the city for any activity re- quiring a central location. Times move on ;