Small school was focal point of community

From our March 2012 issue

By Olga (Lukawesky) Hrycun – Penticton, B.C.

My first posting as a teacher in Alberta was in 1942 at Hollow Lake School. The school was one mile west of the post office and 10 miles south of Waskatenau on what is now known as Highway 831.

I taught at the school until 1945 and again for a year in 1954.

The school originally was in the Smoky Lake District but became part of the Thorhild County School District in 1947.

The school closed in the mid-1950s and was sold and moved to a local farmer in 1957. A small sign now designates where the school once stood.

The school was about five acres and contained a small ball field, water well, small teacherage for resident teachers, and an outhouse.

There were about 30 students from Grades 1 to 8 in this one-room school.

It had a small entrance for hanging clothes and lunch buckets and a water pail with a common community dipper.

The school was heated by a wood stove situated in the centre of the large room. The desks were single type and some were double ped-estal.

A janitor was usually hired for schools and quite often was one of the older students. The annual salary was about $25.

The janitor was responsible for starting the wood stove fire during the 30-below mornings. The janitor also cleaned the school after classes were over.

I often helped the janitor so they could get home sooner during the cold dark afternoons.

I was responsible for teaching all 8 grades. The older students often helped the younger ones with tasks such as reading and spelling.

I was also responsible for events as noonhour ball games, Christmas concerts, picnics, and collection of funds for the Red Cross.

I played the mandolin and enjoyed putting on those special events with the students. Parents were also active in the school by baking pastries for dances and volunteering their time and skills if they played a musical instrument.

The school was the focal point for the community.

The children rarely needed severe discipline as most were excited about studying and helping out.

The hand strap was still in use during this time, but I felt if the strap was used it was more the failure of the teacher than the student.

I rarely used the strap and now feel it should have been eliminated much sooner from the school system.

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