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Arden Leigh School District 5015 | Preface | Understanding the Sign | Acknowledgments | Chronology of Activities | Chapter 1 - Decision to Build a School | Arden Leigh Residents | Chapter 2 - Construction | Chapter 3 - Trustee District Leadership | Chapter 4 - Teaching/Learning in a One Room School | Appendix A | About the Author | Source | Complete | Complete | Downloads | Map | Mirror Site | Contact
|Tony Bourget(C)||Elmer Nystrom(S-T)|
|H.W. Clark (S-T)||Hilda Perry(C)|
|Clarence Chandler(C)||John Sokolowski|
|Ed Bunz||Mike Sokolowski|
|Clarence Cota||Sigurd Sundberg(C)|
|Sam Gugins(C) (S-T)||Non-Trustees as Secretary-Treasurer|
|Chas. Hemrick(C)||Nina Prentice|
|Wm. Joss||Chas. Owens|
|Katie Kattler (C)(S-T)||Betty Doull|
|Alfred Mitchell||F.S. Lucas(was also the School Inspector)|
|C - also served as chairman of the board||S-T also served as Secretary-Treasurer|
The board of trustees had extensive powers over taxation including setting property assessments, setting the annual tax rate, sending out tax notices, demanding land tax assessments for non-resident students and setting tuition fees for residents' children that didn't own land. The tuition fees incidentally were set at a daily rate payable in advance; once for 7 ½ cents and the other for 8 cents per day.
Betty Doull, who boarded at Kattler's, could go to the board meeting since they were held on Saturday. Her assessment of the meetings: "Usually, they went quite smoothly, but occasionally there were lengthy and heated discussions! Local school boards were completely responsible for the operation of the schools in those days".
Unfortunately they could not set teachers' salaries. Those salaries were set by the Department of Education for three classes of teachers: 1st Class had completed grade 11, 2nd Class had completed grade 10 while the 3rd Class had completed grade 9 and each of the three classes received a few months of teacher training. Since there was a serious shortage of teachers from 1935 to 1956, partly caused by the war, the department increased salary levels very rapidly in hopes of attracting more teachers into the profession.
The salary for1st Class teachers were increased from $350 per annum in 1936 to $700 in 1941 and $900 in 1943. This represents a total salary increase of 157% in five years or 31% per year.
To fund these salary levels the department gave boards a teacher grant of 50% of the salary of a 1st Class teacher. Trustees were expected to make up the shortfall through local taxation, but the board struggled to do so because of the low land assessment resulting from poor land in the area. An example of the assessment of Mr. Chandler's quarter section was $944 in 1935.
The Arden Leigh trustees used every means possible to meet salary obligations. They employed 2nd and 3rd Class teachers where possible since they were cheaper. They also made partial payments on salaries with promissory notes, sometimes with interest for the balance or with a draw on the next government teacher grant. They also negotiated with teachers to pay them less than the salary level. With these delayed commitments the board was not only paying the current teachers, but some previous teachers at the same time. Apparently they always met their obligations since there were no reports of disgruntled teachers showing up in the minutes.
One teacher's reaction to her salary level is as follows: "My salary was $70 a month, the minimum in teachers' salaries. I felt rich. Out of that I paid Mrs. Clark $18 a month for room and board. With the rest that year I was able to buy a complete wardrobe of clothes, including a gorgeous $55 silver fox fur piece (which I still have), Christmas gifts for my family and students, and a bicycle for myself, as well as save enough money to go to Summer School." (Idamay Standish)
While growing up, I had always wanted a bicycle, but never had one. Buying one was one of my first priorities. It cost $49 from Eaton's Catalogue. I used to take it to school and let the kids learn to ride on it. Three years later, when I got married, I sold it. I heard that one of the Cook boys bought it. (Idamay Standish)
The larger school unit which came into effect in 1945 resolved the board's problem of paying teachers' salaries. The unit had a larger tax base because of better farm land with a higher assessment which made more funding available. The larger school unit did not, however, solve the chronic teacher shortage.
Another government attempt at resolving the teacher shortage was a six-week normal school training course. Any grade 12 graduate taking this course would be given a job if they wanted it. The hope was that it would attract returning veterans and those previously employed in the war effort. My brother-in-law to be, Everett Gerrard, took the offer; his reaction: Around "October 15th, 1946 I found myself facing a class of pupils at Arden Leigh School…and hopelessly unprepared for the job. Our normal school training was too short to be of much practical use as they were unprepared to teach a short course on teaching". (Everett Gerrard).
During the early 1950's the teacher shortage was still evident. In 1953-54 no qualified teacher could be found for Arden Leigh. A study supervisor, Muriel Plaskan, was employed. Her job was to supervise the students' program of correspondence courses. Although the supervisor was paid less, the teaching process was not much different. In fact with the use of correspondence courses there was likely more structure and so more complete programs could be given to students.
On June 8th, 1954 I graduated as a qualified teacher from Saskatoon Teachers' College in its first year of operation. Prior to that these institutions were called Normal Schools - which was true of similar institutions in the four western provinces. They were called normal schools not because you had to be normal to enroll or that they developed you into a normal human being, but because the graduating teachers were qualified to teach students to attain particular standards or norms.
Jobs were plentiful after I graduated, so I didn't immediately start to look for a position. Soon, though, I was contacted by the school unit sub-division trustee for my home area. He wondered if I would be interested in an arrangement whereby I would transport the children from my home school, Arden Leigh, east to Stove Creek School some seven miles away and teach the students from both schools there. Arden Leigh had only eleven students initially while Stove Creek had a similar number so it was possible and practical to combine them rather than trying to hire two teachers during a severe teacher shortage.
After considering the proposal for a short time, I let Mr. Galbraith know that I was interested enough to begin to explore the details. To do this he picked me up one day and we paid a visit to H.S. Nadurak, the school unit secretary-treasurer, who was the real power in the Sturgis School Unit. The most significant detail for me was the amount that I would be paid. According to the salary schedule my pay, as a teacher was $156.75 monthly while the stipend for transporting the students was set at $7.50 per day or $157 per month. For this arrangement where I drove fourteen miles round trip per day I would be paid almost as much as a teacher's salary. Needless to say, I accepted the contract which is attached as Appendix A.
To accomplish this contract I immediately went out and purchased a three-year old 1951 Mercury panel truck and prior to the beginning of school I got my driver's license! Imagine no driving experience and having the responsibility of transporting eleven children, three being my younger sisters and one brother.
The School Bus and Brother Cliff
Purchasing gas from Henry Rachkewich for 38 ¢ per gallon or 8.4¢ per litre
My friend, Fred Buglas,with my brand new GMC bus
Quite often when I was bringing the children home at night, I would pick up my pre-school sister, Susie, and she would go for a ride to the end of the route and return to home. Unfortunately on the second day of Saskatchewan's November safe driving week, I hit some loose snow and cleared out the bridge railing as well as the under carriage of my school bus. The kids got an unscheduled week's holiday while the bus was being repaired and Susie and I have had something to reminisce about ever since!!
Usually all went well with transporting the children unless it rained since the road was not gravelled. Driving on a clay road was very treacherous until others using the road made ruts and then you just followed the ruts at 10-15 miles per hour, like driving a train. Since there was no municipal snow plowing, my brother, George, built a wooden snow plow mounted on the front of a tractor. He and I would plough the route at night, hoping that it would still be clear the morning.
A standard practice of the board for filling the janitor's position as well as purchasing the yearly firewood supply was to let them out for tender. The result of this tendering process was that costs were kept down and all ratepayers were given the opportunity to be considered. Furthermore instead of using scarce cash for these goods and services, ratepayers' were permitted to reduce their tax bills by the owed amount. Thus, saving cash for items requiring it. For a few years after the school first opened, my grandfather was usually awarded the janitor's position mostly because he had other skills, namely plastering skills, which were also required in the new school building.
At one point the board divided the janitor's position into morning and afternoon shifts. The going rate for the morning for lighting the fire was 10 cents per day and the same for sweeping in the afternoon. This provided some young people in the district an opportunity to earn some money.
My brother, George, was awarded the tender for the janitor job in 1947. He spent the $54 he received to purchase a bicycle from the Eaton's catalogue which provided our family with many fun hours learning to ride a bike.
With my siblings, Cliff and Hazel
My friend, Ervin Nystrom's account of being a janitor showed his ingenuity: "The year I remember the best at Arden Leigh was when Mom was janitor and I used to do the work for her. I would be the first one to school in the morning and the last one home at night. It was kind of fun, though because I could get out of some chores at home. I remember one cold winter morning I was a little late getting the fire started and it was still only about +25 F when it was time for the kids to start arriving. There was a big thermometer hanging on the back wall and the teacher would check that as soon as she walked into the school. I was a little scared of a talking to that morning so I got the idea if I could raise the temperature on the thermometer nobody would believe it was as cold as it felt. I lit a match and held it under the bulb of the thermometer, boy the mercury started climbing in a hurry, in a matter of seconds it blew right out the top. Well, at least no one could prove how cold it was in the school that morning! A lot of people wondered what happened to the thermometer, but I don't think I ever told anyone." (Ervin Nystrom)
The annual supply of firewood was also tendered. The tender specified the number of cords (usually ten), whether it was fire killed dry poplar or green poplar, and when it had to be delivered to the school grounds so it could dry before the next school year. The board did a very good job of allocating the yearly tenders so that as many ratepayers as possible could have their taxes reduced by the amount paid for this task.
The general procedure for getting this wood out would be to go out in the woods to an appropriate patch of trees, cut them down and haul them full length to their yard. To cut them into appropriate lengths, 3 or 4 feet, most people used a swede saw, but some, including my family, used a stationary one-horse power engine and a circular saw, whereas Nystroms used a chainsaw, the only one in the district. After it was bucked up, the green poplar was split, but the fire killed poplar didn't need splitting. It was then ready to be hauled and piled on the school grounds. The going price in 1935 was $1.50 and in 1952 was $4.50 per cord.
The procedure of tendering helped the ratepayers pay their taxes and contributed to keep the district financially solvent by retaining cash for items requiring a cash payment. Other school districts in the province that didn't have the luxury of trees or that went on a cash payment only basis didn't fair as well financially.
The school board also had an active role in student attendance and discipline. To carry out the attendance role the board employed an attendance officer for $5 per year, payable through reduced taxes. The teacher kept attendance records and at the end of the month the teacher sent FORM "B" "TEACHER'S MONTHLY REPORT TO LOCAL ATTENDANCE OFFICER" (see below) which noted all students attending less than 80% of the time.
It was the attendance officer's job to visit the family to verify the reasons for the child's absence and encourage some improvement. There, of course, was no texting, no emails and no phone calls, just a knock on the door. Nobody wanted to do this job. It wasn't a way of ingratiating yourself to your neighbours. Most of the time the job fell to my Dad because he was a leader who was committed to the value of education and saw the importance of regular attendance.
Ratepayers accepted the necessity of these attendance rules. So much so that the father in one family applied to the board in advance to have his eldest daughter stay home to help when her mother was sick in the hospital.
The board also acted in the case of the behaviour of two fifteen year olds by reviewing their behavior and accepting their withdrawal from school because they were over the compulsory age of 15.
The board always held an annual meeting of ratepayers which was usually well attended. Parent interest was always at a high level. The reports were usually received as read, but I am sure that there was plenty of lively discussion on the inspector's report on trustee and school operation, teacher performance and the auditor's financial report.
The plan to purchase the school site from George Sokolowski, my Grandpa, was unfair to him because of the board's procrastination and their final decision. Grandpa agreed to the school being built on the southwest corner of his homestead with the board agreeing to reimburse him later. The process of getting title to the land didn't begin until February 10, 1936 after the school had been built. The board passed a motion directing " the chairman (my Dad) to procure title to the site from Mr. George Sokolowski (my grandpa) as soon as can be arranged". According to the minutes the dimensions of the school site weren't measured by the board until April 17, 1937. The two-acre plot was finally approved for payment at the same meeting, but by this time the quarter section had been sold to H.(Harry)W. Clark. who insisted that he receive the payment.
Community use of the school was a source of friction between the trustees and the community. The community wanted the school to be a community centre where they could have dances and other entertainment. The board, on the other hand, were concerned about the consumption of alcohol and the damage that could be done to the school property. Although the teacher and trustees could sponsor dances to raise funds for school purposes, the trustees were reluctant to accord the same privilege to the public. Finally an attempted resolution of the matter by trustee Sundberg was proposed which said that a community member could sponsor a dance if they had the support of two trustees and paid a deposit of $5(about $90 in today's money). This plan lasted only until it was reversed at the next board meeting, but there appeared to be sufficient dances sponsored by the teacher and the trustee to stave off outright community hostility.
One teacher recalls the dances at Arden Leigh: "I remember going to all the dances in Arden Leigh School when the most popular song was "You are My Sunshine"! How so many Woodstone, Hazel Bloom, and Arden Leigh people crowded into that little school, and where there was room to dance, I'll never know. I remember that the admission price was "men 25¢ and ladies take lunch". That winter we cleared enough at the dances to buy crockery coffee cups. At our dance to earn money for the Christmas Concert, a smart alec turned up with a $20 bill to pay his 25¢ admittance. I heard later that he had pulled that trick at all the dances as the door committees could never make change. However, I fooled him for I had my purse with me and could make change. I meanly gave him as much small silver as I could in his $19.75 change. Was he furious. He left after 15 minutes. (He wasn't an Arden Leigh man)." (Idamay Standish).
The outstanding dance music was provided by one of the parents, Mansell Hunt, on the fiddle (violin) with his daughters, Inez or Hazel, on the guitar. For $2 total they played until dawn.
Common dances were old time waltz, two-step, polka, schottishe, butterfly and square dance if a set of 4 couples was interested and a caller was available. The format set by the band for the dances was to play three dances in a row of the same kind, eg., three polkas then three two-steps. Three or four fast dances were usually followed by a waltz, a slow dance.
The custom was to wait until the music started, then the gentlemen asked the ladies to dance or if the men were reluctant or slow, a lady would ask a lady. Never would a man ask a man! At the end of a set of three dances, the gentleman would thank the lady for the dance, accompany her back to her seat and wait for the next dance. However, if the couple had a liking for each other, rather than ending their dance at the first set of three, they would continue to dance during other sets.
If the dance floor got sticky, it was liberally sprinkled with corn starch to improve its 'danceability'.
An interesting board decision related to some health data. There were blackboards on the north and west walls which meant that the students sat in their desks facing north. Thus the light from the east windows came in over the students' right shoulder which for some reason was a no-no ---light is supposed to come over your left shoulder. The board dealt with this oversight by putting a partition across the room about eight feet from the south wall and moving the blackboards from the north wall to the partition. Students could then face south with the light coming over their left shoulder. This not only resolved the "light" problem, but created a very useful and much-needed cloak room.
Another big decision by the school board was about a yardstick, a straight edge device used to draw lines on the blackboard. The board had ordered a yardstick from Moyer School Supplies, but when it arrived, it was 39.4 inches long. They couldn't understand why a yardstick would be this long, but it seems Moyer School Supplies was about thirty years ahead of the metric change over! To solve the problem so that students wouldn’t grow up thinking a yard was 39.4 inches, they simply sawed it off at 36 inches.
When the province was contemplating the formation of larger school units in 1939, a questionnaire was sent out to districts to get ratepayers’ reaction. While the minutes do not give the questions, the answers to the three questions supported the change by 27%, 28% and 36%. Clearly the Arden Leigh School District did not support the move to centralize schools. Nevertheless, in 1945 the Saskatchewan government reorganized all schools in the province into larger and more efficient administrative groups which were called school units. Arden Leigh became a part of the Sturgis School Unit #45 with the office in Sturgis, a town approximately thirty miles to the southeast. The schools in the towns of Lintlaw, Okla, Hazel Dell, Ketchen, Preeceville, Sturgis and Endeavour as well as all of the rural one-room schools became a part of this larger school unit.
The school unit made significant changes to improve the educational program at Arden Leigh. A travelling library was organized that visited schools every two weeks, supplying students with much needed books. Also a travelling audio-visual program was established to enrich the school’s program with educational films and filmstrips. Of course, the audio-visual equipment had to be accompanied by a gas-powered generator. Sometimes the films were also shown in the evening to parents who, at the time, would have had only a battery-operated radio for receiving outside information and entertainment. In 1947 an exciting benefit was received by the school. A truck arrived one day, certainly a surprise to the students and my guess to the teacher as well, laden with about 25 student tables and chairs. They were beautiful, manufactured out of maple wood and nicely finished. Prior to this our desks were very clunky hand-made from spruce planks.
Even though the Arden Leigh trustees had received these very significant benefits as well as financial stability, they passed a number of motions to retain the one-room school. At various times the trustees made a request to the school unit to build a new Arden Leigh School, or move in a new school, or put a new interior finish in the existing school. The trustees were obviously convinced that they could do a better job of educating their children than the larger school unit.
There was good quality control in these country schools. First, the board of trustees was certainly in tune with student discipline and standards of behaviour of both students and teachers. If there were concerns in these areas, the trustees took action. For example, in March, 1946 the teacher, Jake Woykin, was fired for drinking beer at a school dance. The board must have been nervous about this decision because the page in the minutes which details this dismissal was cut out !
The teacher that replaced Mr. Woykin was Larry Zbitinew. He was an outstanding teacher, a master of challenging his students followed by an abundance of praise when they when they succeeded. I thrived on his tutelage and skipped an couple of grades, but more importantly dedicated myself, starting in Grade 3 to also becoming a teacher.
Incidentially Mr. Zbitinew rose to the top of his profession by ending his career as Superintendent of Schools in the Wadena School Unit.
Secondly, there were provincial school inspectors who arrived unannounced and put students through their paces. Students were often asked to read passages from textbooks or sent to the board and given questions in arithmetic. The outcomes of these activities were discussed with the teacher. Lastly student learning was monitored by compulsory provincial grade 8 examinations.
The trustees always kept the welfare of the school children and the “little ones” in mind. For Christmas they always set aside a specific amount of money for a bag of treats for every child that were distributed by Santa Claus at the Christmas concert. For the end-of–the-year picnic money was provided for various race winners as well as all kids were given 10 cents to spend in the booth. The picnic was held either on the school grounds, at the Stove Creek store or at the picnic grounds (a cleared spot in the bush) about a quarter of a mile west of Stove Creek store. The booth was a four-sided structure built of lumber, open on the front with a counter and a roof of green poplar saplings for shade. The sight of the shimmering leaves and the smell of fresh cut wood was a great background for the distribution of candy treats, pop and free ice cream.
Stove Creek Store, originally Valley View Store, an important place for end of the year picnics and Sunday softball games
I attended Arden Leigh School for nine years (1943-52) and completed the grade one to eleven program. While grades 1-8 were taken as a part of the regular school program, my first three years of high school, grades nine to eleven, were by provincial correspondence courses. The process was to read the assigned readings, answer questions related to the readings and send the lessons to the Correspondence Branch in Regina for marking. During the three years of correspondence, I still attended the one-room school, but set my own pace with the teacher providing help when time permitted.
For the first three years of school we lived on the homestead so I had to walk three miles one way to school with my three older siblings. Since I was small for my age mum soon decided that for the few months of school I would take Wednesday off so I could rest up for the balance of the week. On a trial day of school on St. Patrick's Day, March 17th, 1943 I had my picture taken for the first time.
From left: George Chandler ,Bernie Chandler, Tommy White(hidden)
Teacher, Idamay Standish, Barry Cook(hidden),Dawn Cook,
Angus White ,Lorne Cook(born with no hair),Gordon Cook
Walking to school was not a lot of fun in the winter time, except after a snow storm when we could walk over 10 foot high snow banks, but summer was a different story. In the spring and fall we walked diagonally through the bush instead of following the L-shape of the road. I recall one morning specifically, May 24th, 1943, we met up with the Nystrom kids in the middle of the bush. They had exciting news-a baby sister, Elaine, had been born at their house that morning!
Edna Nystrom's account of walking to school was not all bad:
"I remember starting school in Arden Leigh when I was about 8 years old. Almost every one walked to school in those days, the summers we enjoyed, never in a hurry and often getting to school late. The winters were not as nice, some days were pretty cold and it would always be dark when we left for school in the morning. However, we had a lot of holidays during the winter months. I often think of my school days, it brings back a lot of happy memories".
Likewise, Elsie Gugin's account of walking to school was very positive. "I always enjoyed our walk to and from school. In the spring the birds filled the air with pleasant sights and sounds. The cardinals with their beautiful colour, the cheerful robins, the red-winged blackbirds and the little wrens all left their pleasant memories".
During our winter walk to school, the janitor (usually my grandfather) would have lit the fire in the pot-bellied stove and stoked it so by 9 am the school would be comfortably warm to greet the arrival of the students. The janitor also brought in enough wood to last the day as well as bucket of snow to melt on the stove for drinking water.
The students arrived and gathered around the heater to get warmed up. While in summer, the boys grabbed the softball and bat and headed out to the "ball diamond". At 9 o'clock the teacher rang the bell and the day's learning activities commenced.
The school day started with the singing of "O' Canada" unaccompanied, while standing at attention with correct posture, "chin-up, chest out, shoulders back, stomach in and arms at the side". This was followed by reciting the Lord's prayer, a custom that continued in Alberta schools until at least 1967 when I was teaching there. At the end of the day we sometimes sang "God Saved the King". After the opening rituals of singing and praying the teacher walked up and down the aisles to do the health inspection. She checked to see if your hands and face had been washed and asked whether you had brushed your teeth and checked to see that you had a clean handkerchief.
Teaching in a one-room school meant that the teacher had to be a wizard at planning; eight grades that took eight subjects each. The general modus operandi was to briefly assign students in a grade what was to be done, provide any explanation of the concept or topic and lastly assign an exercise from a textbook. Then move on to the next grade to do the same. One benefit of this system was that students became independent learners, an essential characteristic of lifelong learners.
Another strategy of these teachers was to have students teach other students which research tells us now is the most effective teaching method. If a student can teach others, it means that the concept being taught is reinforced in the student doing the teaching.
As a supplement to the teacher’s expertise there were school radio broadcasts primarily to enrich fine arts, particularly music. With a minimum of student preparation by the teacher, the students could follow the school radio broadcast. One enterprising teacher also used to have us dance to the music from the Temple Gardens broadcast over CHAB Moose Jaw. The desks were pushed aside and we danced for thirty minutes. While it was enjoyable at the time, I felt that it was a taking us away from serious studying, but in retrospect it really wasn’t because in many jurisdictions now dance is a mandatory part of the curriculum.
The one subject that was given the highest priority was reading. After the older students were given their assignment, the teacher devoted considerable time to reading in the primary and intermediate grades. And yes, we used the Dick and Jane Series; we learned phonics and every day we had to read out loud. Arithmetic included going to the blackboard to do questions given on the spot by the teacher. Also flash cards of addition, subtraction, division and multiplication facts were used regularly, often with pairs of students giving the questions to each other. It certainly meant that we became very adept at these arithmetic processes unlike today where most students have to rely on their fingers to get an answer.
Other activities used by teachers to enliven the day and hone skills was the spelling bee or geography match. In the spelling bee sides were chosen and the teacher gave words from the spelling textbook to the contestants. While in the geography match students had to give a place name starting with the last letter of the place name of the previous contestant.
One teacher, Mrs. Margaret Miller thrilled the whole class by taking them to her boarding place to listen to the radio on the coronation of George VI. Most families did not own a radio and here is one student’s account of that event. “Miss Margaret Millar was our second teacher. I recall the Coronation of King George VI. Miss Millar took all the students to Mr. and Mrs. Hemricks where she roomed, one and a half miles east, so that we could hear the Coronation ceremony. It was the first time I had ever heard a radio, a man on the other side of the ocean talking threw (sic) that wooden box, what a thrill for a ten year old!” (Marie Gugins)
Recess and noon hour were the best times when we created our own recreation. In spring, summer and fall there were at least two softball diamonds in operation, one for the younger and the other for the older students. In winter two games were very popular, Fox and Geese and Pom-Pom Pull Away.
Fox and Geese was played exclusively after a fresh snowfall. First you tramped out a circle in the snow, then made spokes so you ended up with a wheel. One person, the fox, was positioned at the centre of the wheel and the geese were all around the perimeter or on the spokes. The fox chased the geese and as soon as he touched one that person became the fox and the process was repeated.
Pom-Pom Pull Away, also called Redline, started by choosing up sides. The fastest runners (usually the bigger and older kids) got chosen first. Then the teams formed two parallel lines about 100 yards apart. The lines were simply marked in the snow or demarked by pieces of boards or horse turds.
The idea of the game was to take prisoners from the other team. It started by some people venturing out from the safety of their line. If they ventured too far or couldn't outrun a person(s) from the other team and got touched, then they became a prisoner of the opposing team and had to stand at the end of the opposing team's line. To get a prisoner out, one of your team members had to sneak up and touch the prisoner. While this was virtually impossible at first; soon the line of prisoners grew and by holding hands extended closer to your home line. At the end of noon hour, the team with the most prisoners won. Really everybody won because it was fantastic exercise.
The boys also played Mumble Peg. Mumble Peg required that each participant have a jack knife; one that had two blades that opened on the same end. The knife was then configured with the shorter blade pointing straight off the end and the larger blade perpendicular to the other. Then the longer blade was set in the ground and the idea was to flip the knife into the air with a quick movement of your index finger. If the knife stuck straight into the ground with only the shorter blade, you got 100 points; if it landed on both blades, you received 75 points; if it landed on only the longer blade 50 points and 25 points if it landed on the spine of the knife. There were no points if the knife flopped over on its side.
Each took turns and the first lad to get 500 points won and the one with the fewest lost. So why was it called Mumble Peg" Well, a peg about two and one-half inches long whittled out of wood was the other required piece of equipment. The winner then closed the blades of his knife, put the knife in his fist and with three strokes with the end of the knife pounded the peg as far as he could into the dirt. And guess who had to pull it out with their teeth, of course, the loser. What usually happened was that the older boys won and the younger boys lost so until you get a knack for the game, you "ate" a lot of dirt!
In my first few months at school from April to June, the older boys, including my older brother, George, (some of them 15 or 16 years old) decided that rather than play at noon that they were going to vandalize the barn and the school fence. The teacher was so exasperated that one day she asked all the boys to stay in after school. Of course, being a boy I stayed along with the other boys. Immediately, she ushered the younger boys out of the room. I believe some of the boys got strapped and that brought an end to the vandalism.
This reminds me of the first off-colour joke I ever heard, told by Sam Gugins to my brother, George, and me. A student by the fortunate name of Johnny Pool wrote on the blackboard at noon, "Johnny Pool has the biggest tool in the school." The teacher kept Johnny in after school to deal with this situation while all of the other boys waited outside the school till he came out to see what his fate was. When Johnny came out he said, "Well, boys, it pays to advertise, but you're got to have the goods!"
As November approached in each school year, the teacher began planning for the Christmas concert or Christmas tree as it was known. The teacher would have already gathered up books of plays and Christmas concert suggestions.
Each child had to be given a part in the concert because all the parents would be attending and a parent would not be impressed if their child was left out. There were plays, some of them had three acts. As well there were recitations, monologues and dialogues. There were drills and dances with music from a wind-up gramophone and, of course, Christmas songs. Some of the recitations were humorous while others told the serious Christmas story.
Practicing started in November and as time went on, there was less schooling and more and more practicing because teachers were also judged by parents on the quality of the concert.
There were decorations to make and costumes to prepare, often out of crepe paper while other kinds of paper were used to make tree ornaments. Either the older boys or a parent went into the woods and cut a spruce tree, which all of the students decorated a day or so before the evening of the concert. Some of the decorations had been purchased while many were hand made. The scariest of all decorations were clip-on candleholders for the tree. One year they actually lit the candles for a short time!
The concerts usually began at 7:00 pm with families arriving by horse and cutter, sleigh or caboose and since the barn would not hold all of the horses, they were merely unhitched and tied to the side of the outfit to munch on the hay brought for that purpose.
The program concluded with the whole school singing Christmas carols with the parents joining in. As these songs concluded, there was a jingling of bells outside and Santa Claus came bounding in with a "Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas boys and girls;" a few people got kisses. Then presents were passed out and every school and pre-school child received a bag of treats that always included an apple, an orange, mixed nuts in the shell and hard striped Christmas candy. A box of Japanese oranges was passed around for the adults. Santa left with a 'Merry Christmas to All' and cocoa, coffee and lunch were served primarily to the adults who visited until about 10:30 pm when they bundled everyone up and headed home.
A Christmas concert drill featuring Susan Chandler, Geraldine Fenske, Shirley Clarke…
During the twenty years that Arden Leigh School operated twenty-two teachers were employed, some for periods as short as two months while four teachers, Betty Doull (1943-45), Everett Gerrard (1946-48), Dorothy Evans (1950-52) and I (1954-56) served for a full two years. The attached list names all of the teachers and where available, the years that they taught.
|THE TWO YEAR SERVICE GALLERY|
Miss Betty Doull (1943-45)
Everett Gerrard (1946-48)
|Dorothy Evans (1951-53)|
Bernie Chandler (1954-56)
|The school reached its highest enrolment of 26 in September, 1946 when my cousins briefly enrolled at the school. The first picture attached names the students that were enrolled in October 1946 while the second picture gives the enrolled students in 1948.|
Back Row (L-R)
Elnor Cota, Bernie Chandler, Ruth Cota, George Chandler, Hubert Guy, Angus White
Middle Row (L-R)
Clara Chandler, Edna Sokolowski, Ervin Nystrom, Harry Rachkevich, David Sokolowski, Norman Byspalko, Oliver Gugins
Front Row (L-R)
Ruth Parry, Mildred Cota, Mildred Parry, Winnie Sokolowski, Florence White, Darrel Guy, Elma Nystrom
Alec Gugins, Bernie Chandler, Oliver Gugins, Ervin Nystrom, Elma Nystrom, Einor Cota, Mildred Cota, Clara Chandler, Florence White, Ruth Parry, Harry Rachkevich
In Front of Step
John Clark, Shirley Chandler, Marie Schnack, Darrel Guy
As I reflect on my review of the minutes and my association with the school, one main conclusion springs to mind. In the twenty years of operation of the school there was never an issue that divided the parents. Even the closure of the school and transport of the students to Stove Creek School didn’t cause a ripple among the parents.
There were some disagreement over where the Christmas concert should be held in 1954. Some Arden Leigh parents, at a joint meeting with the Stove Creek school trustees, felt that if Arden Leigh hosted the concert then the school should be good enough to be “operated as a school afterward” ( H.W. Clark). After some discussion and diplomacy on the part of the Stove Creek trustees, John Fenske, Fred Fenske and Mike Delowski, the gathered parents agreed to the concert being held at Arden Leigh and the necessity to continue to transport Arden Leigh students to Stove Creek.
Instead they were fully cooperative and accepted the necessity resulting from the teacher shortage. The parents are to be commended for their commitment and support to any change which would result in improvement to education for their children.
He was born on April 17, 1936 in a log house with dirt floor on the family homestead, NW6 Twp 37 Rge8 W2. He attended Arden Leigh School from September, 1943 to June, 1953, completing grades one to eleven, the last three years by provincial correspondence courses. His formal teacher education began at the Saskatoon Teachers' College in their ten-month teacher education program. Subsequently he completed a B.Ed. and M.Ed. at the University of Alberta and all but his dissertation in the doctoral program at the University of British Columbia.
His professional career began as the teacher at Arden Leigh School and concluded as the Superintendent of Schools of the Greater Victoria School District at Victoria, B.C. In the interim he taught in Yukon and Alberta, and was a principal, superintendent of schools and an education consultant in Alberta.
He attributes his success as a leader to the meaningful involvement and collaboration of parents and staff in all district's directions and significant decisions. With a full system team improvements were made in the program of teaching and learning.
Arden Leigh School District #5015 School Board Minutes May 4, 1935 to
March 28, 1959 Lintlaw and Stove Creek Saskatchewan
Chandler, Bernie Do You Get My Drift 2016 Victoria, British Columbia Friesen Press
Gibb, Shirley The History and the Memories of Arden Leigh School #5015 1924-1982
July 17, 1982 Lintlaw, Saskatchewan Self-Publish
Submitter 1. From: Bernard Chandler
|Gallery||Arden Leigh School District 5015|
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