Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
March 16, 2009
Edmonton Catholic schools mark 120 years
WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER
Grade 5 Student Celia Sweetland rings a handbell at St. Mary School March 10 to mark the 120th anniversary of Catholic schools in Edmonton.
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON – On Nov. 2, 1888, three sisters from the Faithful Companions of Jesus began teaching at Edmonton’s first Catholic school.
Now, even 120 years later, Catholic schools in Edmonton are still preparing children to use their God-given talents to serve the world.
“Catholic education in Edmonton has a proud tradition. It dates back to before Alberta was a province,” said Margo McGee, principal of St. Mary Elementary School.
McGee explained the school district’s history, from its humble beginning to the present day.
“In the 120 years that have passed, since the first school bell rang at St. Joachim School, the Edmonton Catholic School District has grown from one school with 23 students to 84 schools with approximately 32,000 students and about 3,000 staff members.”
Marking the historic moment, celebrations were held across the city on Tuesday, March 10. This particular day was chosen because it is the 120th day of the school year.
“Those people had a dream way back in 1888. Just like we dream about a bright future and we look ahead, those parents wanted something special in their community, which was a Catholic school,” said McGee.
“Now we continue our tradition of believing in Catholic education. We are people of spirit and adventure, and we work together to create a beautiful world, not only for ourselves, but everybody else around us.”
All of the district’s schools celebrated in the morning with one minute of chimes.
This coincided with chimes at City Hall, St. Joseph’s Basilica, and other Roman Catholic parishes and Ukrainian Catholic parishes throughout Edmonton.
At St. Mary Elementary, 22 students rang handbells in the school’s atrium as the rest of the students and staff made their entrance into the gymnasium.
Once there, a short service was held. A video was shown commemorating the school district’s history.
The school’s other principal, Marie Whelan, said, “You will see the old wooden desks that many, many years ago children sat in, unlike the desks that we sit in today at our school. It is a very exciting celebration of the Edmonton Catholic School District.”
Every site school unveiled a plaque that had their school name and the year the school opened. Another special plaque was unveiled at the district’s meeting of principals at St. Anthony’s Meeting Centre.
The plaque lists all of the current and former schools, from 1888 until present, and the date they opened. It has space for new schools to be added.