At the end of the 2015-16 school year, four schools – in Standard, Hussar, Gleichen and Rockyford – will close their doors.
To mark this momentous occasion, Standard and Hussar both held farewell celebrations this past week where former and current students came together to reminisce about their time at these schools.
While these celebrations were to say goodbye to the old buildings, there was an atmosphere of excitement, as current students will move onto the new, centrally located Wheatland Crossing School, which is being touted as offering better opportunities and more programs for the students.
“You know what? Everyone is so excited about moving to the new school right now,” said Alan Larsen, Standard’s mayor. “It is more about the new school than sadness about losing Standard School.”
Standard celebrated their farewell on June 17 with a barbecue. The current school has stood in its present location since 1959, but the land’s educational use goes back to 1912 when 16 students took classes in a small wooden building.
Susan Moncks is a Grade 6 teacher at Standard who has spent 33 years teaching at the school. She also has strong ties to Hussar school, from which she graduated. While she is going to miss walking into the school she has walked into every year of her teaching career, she is looking forward to the new school.
“I am going to miss the building,” she said. “But the cool thing about this whole thing is that I am taking everybody with me. So I am not leaving the school body, just the building.”
Hussar had their farewell celebration on June 18, and it drew a large crowd of people who have walked its hallways in its 64 years of operation. Including Calgary Centre MP Kent Hehr, who was a student at the school between 1975 and 1977. There were even a few people sharing their memories of the school that came before the current building. Memorabilia and old class photos adorned the gym walls of all those who spent time in Hussar School.
“It has been the backbone of this community since we are celebrating 1949,” said Wendy Kaiser, who was the MC for the day’s festivities. “It’s a bittersweet day. You can see by the crowd of people in the building who have been through this school and enjoyed being here.”
Kaiser has spent most her life at the school, either as a student or helping out as a teacher’s aide, and as part of the parent’s council.
The reason for the schools’ closing is because the populations of the communities no longer warrant these separate buildings. Wheatland Crossing will increase the student population, which will allow for more programs. The new school will also have a larger gymnasium allowing more classes to be held there at once, and it will also allow for bigger basketball and volleyball teams.
The new school will also feature a large, well-equipped shop for the CTS program, as well as a commercial kitchen on offer to give kids healthy meal options, especially as most will no longer be able to run home at lunch.
These new amenities are in part thanks to the Friends of East Wheatland Society which has spent the past three years fundraising to improve the basic school facilities.
“We are very close to our main goal which is a $500,000 commitment to the extra square footage required for the gym,” said Kathryn Brown, chair of the Friends of East Wheatland Society. “We have also equipped the gym with bleachers, and in our theatre, there will be retractable bleachers as well. Our playground is well on its way; unfortunately we won’t make it in time for September, but it will be up in the spring for the kids to play on.”
Wheatland Crossing will open in September 2016 and will have students from Kindergarten to Grade 12.