One of Cranbrook’s largest and most venerable elementary school is marking its 60th anniversary, and bidding welcome to all who passed through her doors and walked her hallways.
Amy Woodland Elementary School — named after one of Cranbrook’s legendary educators — is holding an open house on Thursday, Nov. 22, at its location at 911 6th Street South.
“The footprint of all the people who have a history with this building is huge,” said Principal Aaron Thorn. “One of the things that amazes me as the principal here over six years is everywhere I go someone says ‘Oh, I went to that school.’
“In a way that doesn’t completely interrupt our day here, we’re trying to tip our hat to the history of the building, the people who did their 25 or 30 years in education, the families that had three, four or five kids come through the school.”
Part of the open house project is trying to gather more of the school’s history, Thorn said. A lot of it has disappeared over the years.
Thorn has asked the Retired Teachers Association for help in this matter, with the loan of any artifacts or memorabilia.
“There are former teachers who were on staff here through the 1960s and ‘70s. Old jerseys, old T-shirts, old hats; bring those by so we can put those up in the gym.”
While the gym will serve as a collection of the school’s history, the humans at the school will also be involved. Teachers will ask the students to do art and writing projects around the theme of ‘What do you think school was like in the 1960s?’
“It will be a Spirit Day, so kids are going to be asked to come dressed in 1950s styles,” Thorn added. “I’m hoping some of the staff will rise to the challenge and come to school wearing skinny ties and tortoiseshell glasses.”
But the biggest thing is to allow people to come into the school and experience the poignant memories from their past.
“It’s like driving by your old house — how interesting would it be to go into that house, but none of us are ever brave enough to go knock on that door,” Thorn said.
“No one is going to wander around a school where nobody knows you, but we’re going to open up the doors, have a guest book for people to sign, then they can go through the gym to see what archive pieces we’ve managed to collect, and then go wander the halls. See the old classrooms, the library, check out those things you remember.”
One significant moment in Amy Woodland history occurred not that long ago, about 15 years past, when a long-term facilities plan proposed possibly consolidating some schools or even shutting down some schools — Pinewood, Laurie Middle School and Amy Woodland were all in that discussion.
But Amy Woodland is open and educating today, and in fact has grown stronger.
“When I got to the school six years ago there were 238 kids the day I walked in,” Thorn said. “We have about 40 more kids now.
“We’re up to 13 classrooms — we’re not as full as Isabella Dickens in Fernie, which is bulging at the seams, but we’ve become one of the larger elementary schools in Cranbrook. There are more than 40 adults that work here — it’s a pretty robust place now.
A Strong Start Centre is here — we have parents with month-old children coming to Strong Start, all the way to Grade 6 kids.”
The open house celebrating Amy Woodland Elementary School’s 60th anniversary is set for Thursday, Nov. 22, between 9 am and 5 pm.