For 50 years, Linwood Public School has been a hub for the surrounding community, with students from multiple generations filling the classrooms of teachers that wouldn’t want to teach anywhere else.
The school’s milestone anniversary was marked last weekend with a party for the community, including barbecue, cake and a live band, as well as displays showing the school throughout the years and all of the major changes made as the student body grew.
Bruce Dammeier was a student at the school the first year it opened in 1967. He was in Grade 6 and was one of many students who were charged with picking colours, putting on a musical and more. He says a few things have changed since he was a student, but others have stayed exactly the same.
“The school is a lot bigger, and obviously there are more students and staff now. I still live in Linwood and my wife is an educational assistant here, so I still have that connection to the school,” he said. “(When I was a student) we came up with the school colours, the yearbook and the crest. All that stuff is still here.”
One of the big memories for Dammeier was the school musical. The first year the doors were open, staff and students took on the daunting task of putting together H.M.S. Pinafore, a classic Gilbert and Sullivan musical with plenty of work involved.
“I was coming from a one-room school where something like that just wasn’t possible,” he said. “So when I got here, we went all out with the props, the makeup and everything. It was a really big deal. That is the biggest thing that sticks out for me.”
His wife, Debbie Dammeier, known by her students as Mrs. D, has been an EA at Linwood Public School for three decades, watching students and staff come and go through the years. She says the school is a great place to be and she wouldn’t want to be working in any other community.
“We have had a great turnout (tonight) but that is because it is a great school. One boy that I worked with in one of my first years here, he has Down Syndrome, came up to me yelling, ‘Mrs. D!’ That feels really good,” she said, adding that she has seen the school grow over the 30 years she has been working in Linwood. “We have had a couple of additions over the years. Staff has changed, except me and a few others. When you come to Linwood, you stay here. It is a great school. It is fun to work here.”
Linwood principal Shawn Thompson has been at the school for the past three years. As a newcomer to the staff, he says it was a bit surprising to see the community come out in droves to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Linwood Public School.
“It is a community thing for us. We had a presentation earlier from three generations of families that had been through our school. For a small town, a school is a big deal. You can tell by the number of people that came here tonight,” he said. “We never expected this many people, but it just shows the connection we have made with the community, which is what we want.”
Part of the celebrations included opening a time capsule put together by students in 1982. The capsule remained sealed for 25 years waiting to be opened on the 50th anniversary. Some of the student predictions came true. Thompson was impressed with the creativity and foreshadowing coming from the 1982 students.
“We had one kid write about how he thought cars would drive themselves and cars would talk. He was right on,” he shared. “Another kid said that we wouldn’t use pennies and that we would have plastic money. We had a Mennonite boy say that in 25 years, kids will be playing video games against other kids from their homes. Again, right on.”