It’s been 70 years since Harrison Hot Springs Elementary first opened its doors to the community’s school children.
Back then, in 1949, the new school was built to replace the one that had been impacted by the 1948 flood. In the post-war boom that followed, the number of students increased and buildings grew in size.
But, although times have changed, some things have stayed the same.
“Some of this stuff is original. The Grade 5/6 classroom, that is literally the classroom,” said principal Tammy Nazarchuk. “If you look at all the photos, the old black and whites that we got from the Agassiz Harrison Museum, they’re literally in front of the exact same classrooms, and I would argue the same windows.
“It was quite neat to see how it really hasn’t changed that much.”
On Friday, Nov. 15, former staff and students were invited to take a walk down memory lane during an open house in honour of Harrison Hot Springs Elementary’s 70th anniversary.
Throughout the day, students gave tours of the building, taking attendees through classrooms and giving them the opportunity to reminisce about their own time at the school.
“We had students that attended here from the first years of the school, we had current students. It was kind of neat,” Nazarchuk said.
Barrie Northrop and Neil Perrault, who took a tour of the school and shared some of their stories, “even had our kindergarten kids completely enthralled with them, because they were just sharing stories.”
By 4 p.m., there were between 40 and 50 people in the school’s gymnasium, Nazarchuk said, waiting to hear the speeches from local dignitaries about the history of the school.
“It was just fascinating,” she said. “Places that I had been visiting for years around this area and didn’t really know the background of (were explained). So I just really enjoyed that history aspect that some of the people that were there brought to it.”
Overall, she said, the event was a success for both the public and the school’s staff — and she hopes the school will be able to pull off another one for the 75th anniversary.
“They really pulled together and pulled this thing off. I was so impressed with them,” she said about her staff. “It’s clear we’re building a strong team here.”
It’s possible the next celebration could even be in a new school building, as Harrison Hot Springs Elementary is on the waiting list for either seismic upgrades or a completely new facility.
“I’d like to make it bigger and better for the next one,” Nazarchuk said. “But time will tell. Maybe we’ll be doing it in our new school next time.”