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School artifacts bring back memories for students, teachers

The archives room at A.E. Peacock Collegiate showcases artifacts from schools in the former Moose Jaw Public School Division, which operated from 1884 to 2005

Former King Edward School student April Warner-Slater was excited to find her name in a yearbook that was published before the school closed and that now resides in the A.E. Peacock Collegiate archives room.

Warner-Slater was in Grade 7 when the school closed in 1977. The book was a final collection of stories students wrote about their time at the school, along with other information such as the names of intramural sports teams; BTO, Nazareth, and KISS, anyone?

Warner-Slater’s contribution was about how much she enjoyed her teachers. She thought it was interesting to come across her words, which brought back memories of her time at the former elementary school.

“I was not happy I had to go to Empire (School) for Grade 8 before going to high school,” she chuckled on Oct. 24, while visiting the archives room with her husband Ron, who was in Grade 8 at King Edward in 1977.

The archives room’s open house was part of the school’s Education Week celebrations. The room is open when the school is open. To visit, call 306-693-4626 and speak with principal Dustin Swanson.

While Peacock Collegiate hosts the archives, the room itself focuses on the schools that made up the Moose Jaw School Division, which existed from 1884 — at the time, the oldest in the province — until 2005. Many of the objects are from schools that closed over the decades and from some that still stand today.

Prairie South School Division sprang into existence in 2006 after surrounding school divisions amalgamated with Moose Jaw.

Walking through the room brought back memories for retired teacher Leslie Fielding, who noted she had similar items in her classrooms over the years. She began teaching in 1983 and worked at King George, Ross School, and Palliser Heights until retiring in 2016. She taught French immersion for more than half of her career.

“I just noticed a book I used to teach with, so that’s pretty cool,” she said. Fielding then picked up another book, “Stories of Old and New,” used to train students to read. The book was written in 1965 and helped her learn to read as a student.

Bill Shiers attended three elementary schools as a child — Prince Arthur, King Edward and Empire — before going to Peacock for high school. He lives in Florida now, but saw a Facebook notice about the archives’ open house and thought he would visit.

“I never would have thought this placed existed,” he added. “I never knew they had all this stuff … A lot of stuff brings back memories.”

King Edward School was still standing when Shiers and his family moved to South Hill, he said, so it was a shame the school was torn down. He pointed out that in every picture taken looking toward that neighbourhood, the school “stands out like a sore thumb.”

Shier’s sister Crystal Froese was excited to see a desk that she would have sat in while attending Peacock and from which she graduated in 1985. She slipped into the seat and found it just as comfortable as ever.

“It (the room) is great, especially to see the different eras and the typewriters and equipment,” said Froese. “The technology has changed so much.”

Most of Froese’s family attended Peacock over the decades, she said. She began attending the school before it received major renovations; once the new gym was built, it seemed everyone wanted to attend.

She recalls being taught Shakespeare by an English teacher who let the students learn outside if the weather was nice. Sometimes class was held at Crescent Park, while other times students would simply open the classroom windows and go sit on the adjacent roof.

“Everyone (also) knows Mr. J — Lyle Johnson,” Froese added. “He’s famous. If there was a teacher of the century, it would be Mr. J. He was one of those fair, easy-going teachers who brought out the best in kids. All the students loved him and still do.”

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