Kitimat Schools – The First Decade by Fred Taylor
With the decision by the Aluminum Company of Canada to build a smelter at Kitimat, came the need for a school. Mr. Frank Bower, on September 15, 1952, started the school with two support staff and 26 pupils. The Smeltersite School was officially opened on September 26, 1952 by Mr. G.W. Graham, the Prince Rupert School Inspector. Terry Coghlin was your Student Council President that year. Did you know that Mr. Bower was born in Chicago? The Christmas concert was held on December 18, 1952, complete with the “Christmas Story”. June 13 saw a beach party at the cove south of the wharf. The name “Tamitik” was chosen for the school paper. The annex for high school students was added by Easter of 1953. The year ended with 87 pupils – and the first annual, the “Alpha,” was printed.
Mr. Frank Bower was still Principal, along with five support staff. 12 students in senior high, 9 in junior high. Miss Donna Sparks became the first graduate at year’s end. The school was visited by the Right Honourable Vincent Massey on May 20, 1954. Sharon Carlson operated the school store for the Students’ Council – remember the basketball trip to Prince Rupert? John Cruzelle was Sports Rep. Leigh Spicer was in Gr. 9 and Terry Shupe was in Gr. 6.
Mr. Ken Armstrong became Principal and students are in Nechako Centre anxiously awaiting completion of Nechako School. Movies were in the Smeltersite School basement and bus rides were free. Seven students in Grade 11 that year. Students and teachers moved into Nechako School in April, 1955.
Mr. John Calum took over duties as Principal and his staff had grown to 14! Mike Kinnear became President of the Students’ Council. Pat Hanna is one of the most popular girls in school. Ray Chenosky was voted most likely to marry in the Leap Year. Basketball was in full swing with competitions against Prince Rupert and Terrace. 10 students in teh Grad. class that year.
Mr. Calum Principal. We now have 23 teachers, 400 students awaiting completion of high school. We move in every time a classroom is finished. Elvis is coming on strong, giving Bill Haley & the Comets competition. There are now senior and junior basketball teams. The literary field is captured by Faye Tourner, Diane Lumley, Susan Selbie, Beth Jones, Pat Wright and Martin Fossum to name a few. 16 Grads this year.
Mr. Calum Principal. He must like it here! This is the year of the beard contest and some of the 34 support staff sure looked furry by year’s end. Beverly Nelson is valedictorian this year and Gerry Burbidge promises his drums to Ron Burnett. This is the first year for Grade 13. There were “The Snow Shuffle” and “Sadie Hawkins” dances. That year Mr. Gregson taught us how to play blackjack.
John Calum is still your Principal and the Mount Elizabeth High School is finished! Ron Burnett is Student Council President. We now have inter house sports – soccer, volleyball and, yes, even cheerleaders. That year we had a Hardtimes Dance, a Hearty Hop, The Slush Ball Serenade and even a Jailhouse Rock Dance. The academic award winners for 58/59 wer Susan Selbie, Peter Ehlers and Arvid Hardin.
Mr. Roy Berry is Principal. With 28 support staff. The beatnick look is in, but we’re still having sock hops. Academic awards for Grade 12 were Dorothy Anne Dodsworth, Benno Przybylski and Gordon Stockman. You had a modern dance club that year and a philatelic club. Some literary giants for the year were Karin Oeverman, Sharon Sestrap, Ian Berry, Vina Starr and Carolyn Kerr. Roger Williams won the mile in 6.6 – 25 grads that year and the valedictorian was Ian Berry.
Mr. Roy Berry in command and Ulrich Schaffer is Prime Minister of Student Government. Grade 13 is now senior matriculation and has 9 students. We now have a junior curling club! John Fortier’s rink to the “A” in the first half season and Jimmy Mitchell’s rink captured the “A” for the second half. The “Chieftains” are still having trouble with Prince Rupert this year. 43 grads that year and your valedictorian was Mike Fletcher.
Mr. Roy Berry is still your Principal – with 34 support staff. Cheerleaders for the year are Jerilyn Hayes, Margie Forward and Joey Mulder. M.E.H.S. tries it’s first school broadcasting system for lunchtime entertainment. The literary world sees the emergence of Jose Cousineau, Albert Robinson, Ruth Stockman and Vivian Smith as some of the contributors. 15 Post Grads this year and 52 graduates. Sharon Sestrap was the valedictorian.
A decade of school in Kitimat had passed.