Forty years ago, Gordon Terrace Elementary opened its doors in Cranbrook.
Now, the busy elementary school is celebrating its milestone anniversary with a look back at four decades of educating young minds.
On Friday, Feb. 14 at 11:15 a.m., the school will host a special assembly commemorating the 40th anniversary.
Named after long-time Cranbrook fire chief Jimmy Gordon, Gordon Terrace Elementary was built in 1972 at a cost of $184,000 on 25 acres that was originally destined to be a subdivision.
Gordon Terrace first accepted students in December 1972. There were four classes with 142 students in kindergarten to Grade 3.
Just one year later, when the school was officially opened by the Department of Education in November 1973, an addition had already been built on to the school, adding another six classrooms and a full-size gym and expanding the school up to Grade 6.
It was the sixth elementary school in Cranbrook, joining the now-defunct Central School, 10th Avenue School and Muriel Baxter, and the still open TM Roberts and Amy Woodland.
Now, Gordon Terrace is celebrating how far it has come in those 40 years with a special assembly Friday with invitations for students, families, past and present staff, school district officials, and members of the Gordon family. Anyone is welcome to attend the occasion.
The school’s first principal Bruce Williams will share stories from Gordon Terrace’s early days. There will be a slideshow of photos spanning the school’s 40 years, and birthday cake to be shared.
Students will perform songs from the ‘70s, including a special version of Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water”. Current music teacher Larry Dureski, who was also one of the first students at Gordon Terrace, has re-written the classic rock song to tell the school’s story, and it will be performed with his students.
Principal Michelle Sartorel said that, for her, one of the most touching aspects of the anniversary is knowing that the school has helped create a sister school in Nepal, also called Gordon Terrace, which opened last spring.
Students from Cranbrook’s Gordon Terrace raised $18,000 to help build the school for students in Dhulikhel, Nepal. It opened last year, right around the 40th anniversary.
Sartorel said she knows that in their lifetime, some of her students will have the opportunity to visit Nepal and see the school they helped build.
“The kids are so caring and giving and the families are amazing,” she said.
Sartorel said that the Gordon Terrace community is awesome.
“Am I ever proud! I feel so privileged to be the principal of this school,” she said.
“I look at all the things that happen here – the dynamic teachers, the passion that comes forward – they are lucky, lucky kids.”
More than just a building, Gordon Terrace is a place to build young people, she concluded.
“We have such an opportunity to impact and touch the lives of so many kids.”