The classrooms and hallways at Hatzic elementary are buzzing this week as students, teachers, and volunteers prepare for the school’s centennial celebration April 16.
The processional, led by piper Jamie McGrath, will enter the gym at 1 p.m., followed by an aboriginal welcome and art ceremony by carver Johnny Williams, and presentation of a button blanket by Ms. O’Soup. Students Ms. Osborne and Ms. Jones will address the visitors, followed by greetings from alumni. At 1:35 p.m. the Centennial Choir will perform a medley of songs from the 20th century. At 2:30 p.m., there will be a special Earth Day tree planting ceremony at Hatzic Park, organized by Communities in Bloom and the District of Mission.
Although the oldest two classrooms in the school opened in 1911, this was not the first schooling available to children in the Hatzic area. About 1890, construction of St. Stephens Anglican Church was started, and a classroom opened in 1899; by 1902, school trustees Arthur McTaggart, J.A. Catherwood, and James Lawrence were approving expenditures of $145 for repairs to make the space suitable for school classes — $10.20 for firewood, $35.97 for furniture and desks, and $17 for putting in blackboards.
By June 1910, the enrolment had increased and the Mission School Board approved $3,000 for a new school; tenders were being received the following year, and on Jan. 4, 1911 a concert and dance were held to celebrate the completion and opening of the new two-room school. By the end of the month, an additional teacher was hired. Lists of students who attended include many familiar pioneer families.
In 1923, the school board appointed Miss Christine Morrison as principal — the first woman to hold such a position in the district. Morrison had attended Hatzic Elementary School herself; after normal school, she returned and had many “firsts” in her 46-year career within the Mission school system.
In the following decades, Hatzic elementary survived the difficult years of the “Dirty Thirties.” One former student remembers coming to school in 1942 and all the Japanese students being gone; his teacher explained they and their families were being sent east of the Rockies because of the Second World War. Following the war was a time of rapid expansion of post-war boom. In 1954, one room and new water chlorination were added to the school, and in 1959, a two-room addition was built for $33,026.
By 1978, another three-room expansion was needed; when the tender was awarded to J.C. Kerkoff and Sons Contracting from Sardis, the local Construction and General Labourers Union held an “information picket” outside the school board office. Construction went ahead, at a cost of $106,425.
During the past four decades, the school has continued as the heart of the local community. The school logo and house team murals were added, and the new Hatzic Huskies mural in the gym is one of the centennial legacy projects. Outside, the community garden has been started with large barrel planters.
Throughout all these years, the Parent Teacher Association was busy with raising money for Christmas treats, sports days and field trips. On April 18, they will be helping throughout the school. Activities and demonstrations include a “modern” classroom, aboriginal cultural room featuring bannock and dried salmon, the Mission Literacy bus, sun hang do demonstration, Japanese origami cranes project, Adopt-a-Block and information of the school’s Centennial Legacy Projects. A timeline of historic and archival photographs and news clippings will line the hallway.
Everyone in the community is urged to attend — meet old friends, share stories of your school days, and experience the excitement and achievements of today’s students.
Submitted by Sharon Syrette