Forty-five years ago, Linda Dickson was part of the first grade four class at the brand-new Mt. Begbie Elementary School.
Last Thursday, she taught her final kindergarten class at the school, which is closing as the school district gets ready to open up the brand new Begbie View Elementary in September.
Dickson told her story of attending school in 1967. The opening of MBE meant she didn’t have to walk all the way to Mountain View Elementary for grade four. The new school was only a block away.
Her teacher that year was Brigitte Saunders, who was treated like a movie star and all the students – boys and girls – tried to impress.
MBE was built in 1967 as a response to Revelstoke’s exploding population and over-crowding at existing schools, said museum curator Cathy English, who gave a talk on the history of MBE. At the time, some students were being taught in temporary, portable classrooms at the old Selkirk Elementary school.
Construction on the school started in April 1967 and continued through the summer. It wasn’t finished in time for the school year so the students had an extended summer vacation.
When it did open, there was no gym, said English, so students crowded into the activity room for assemblies – 200 kids in a tiny space.
Harry Sayers was the principal the first year but he was replaced by John Opra the following year.
The school was located in the heart of Revelstoke’s Little Italy neighbourhood. Mauro Morrone, now a school board trustee, attended MBE in the 1970s. He remembers how many students spoke English as a second language. The school gave the neighbourhood its own identity.
In 1993, Dickson was hired as a teacher librarian at MBE, bringing her life full-circle. She is now a kindergaten teacher, getting ready to transition into the new school, along with all the other students.
Closing day last Thurday, June 29, featured a pancake breakfast, barbecue lunch, year-end assembly, open house and more. There were historical displays set up througout the gym. The books in the library were in boxes and the musical instruments loaded into a van for the move. Students were running about cleaning up their classrooms, excited for summer vacation and the last day of school ever at Mount Begbie Elementary.