Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 12, 2008
Our Lady of Peace school marks 50th
Schoolís mission based on child and the community
- WCR photo by Ramon Gonzalez
Grade 1 students Christopher Fletcher and Samantha Beauchamp twirl a 1950ís dance step they learned for the celebrations.
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Fifty years after it opened, Our Lady of Peace Catholic Elementary School continues firm in its mission of educating children and building community.
Liturgies, religious instruction, and an emphasis on respecting the dignity and worth of each individual are keynotes of the school, which Principal Kathy Kiss describes as child-centred and community-oriented.
"We have a very strong community here - a very caring and supportive community," says Kiss, the principal for the past three years.
The school at 15911-110 Ave. marked its 50th anniversary May 2-5 with a series of events, most of them involving the community at large. The celebration kicked off May 2 with a '50s dance in the gym.
The ceremonies also included a Sunday Mass at Holy Spirit Church, an open house, a '50s dinner and the opening of a time capsule from the 40th anniversary.
Kiss says the school's 50th anniversary finds Our Lady of Peace much stronger than five years ago when it was slated for closure due to low enrolment. It now has 190 students served by 28 teachers and support staff.
"Parents get very involved here; it's a very family oriented school," noted Kiss. "We have lots of community events."
Because few families take their children to the parish for catechism, sacramental preparation is provided in the school during religion class with assistance from the parish, explained the principal.
The school also offers First Reconciliation in the gym.
And given Our Lady's high aboriginal population, a Cree Leadership Academy, named after an Aboriginal elder Eva Bereti, opened with kindergarten and Grade 1 last year. It currently has 26 aboriginal students.
Our Lady of Peace opened in September 1958 as the seventh school in the Jasper Place separate school system.
As classrooms were not ready when the school opened, students attended classes at Holy Cross School until the end of October 1958.
The staff taught for the first two weeks of November without heat in the classrooms, with temperatures at the time hovering around 5 C in the morning.
Among the first students in Grades 4 to 6 were 22 children from the Enoch Reserve who were bused to Our Lady of Peace. The Enoch students in Grades 1 to 3 were integrated into Our Lady of Peace in 1965. Students from Enoch attended Our Lady of Peace until they got their own school in 1978.
Kiss said Our Lady of Peace tries to provide students with activities they may not have access to outside the school, including sports, cultural events, arts and crafts and music.
Among other things, Our Lady of Peace features a guitar club, a robotics club and a knitting club.
The school is also known for its strength in softball and math.
"I'm very proud of this school," added teacher assistant Elsie Mahoney.
"It makes our community better. Students as well as their families feel welcomed and relaxed here."
Grade 6 student Shae Lanovaz, dressed '50s style, described Our Lady of Peace as a school where students feel comfortable.
"Teachers here are all very friendly and pay attention to you," she said. "In a way, it's like being home."