The halls of Erskine School, west of Stettler, were loud with the sound of children’s voices and banging lockers as students came in from recess before their lunch.
For the past five or so years, the school has been having recess before lunch, a project that lets kids run off some energy before eating.
“Students would wolf down their lunch, which isn’t good for them, because they wanted to play,” Principal and teacher Debra Spiller explained. “Or they wouldn’t eat it all. This way, they go out and play and then come in, hungry, and eat.”
Courtney Gillespie’s Grade 1 class sat at their desks for lunch, breaking into juice boxes and sandwiches alongside their classmates for the first time since leaving school last June. The room was quiet as kids focused their energy on eating.
In another wing of the school the Junior High School students gathered in groups of girls and boys, friends who were glad to be back with each other and eager for sports – not so much the work, though.
Among the group was a student new to the school, Grade 9 student Mackenzie Dixon. She recently moved to the area from Blackfalds.
“I was shaking, I was so scared,” she admitted about starting at the school. “I only got two hours of sleep.”
Her mother walked her in as far as the office, where she dropped off some papers, but then Dixon was on her own.
It didn’t take her long to make friends, though; when the Independent spoke with her she was surrounded by six other girls from her class.
“I’m making friends,” she said. “Everyone’s very friendly.”
This year, Erskine School has 123 students, down one from last year’s 124. However, if the school doesn’t count the Kindergarten students, they’re up, Spiller said.
There’s more than just new students at the school this year. Sarah Chapman is a new teacher at the school, and will be teaching Grade 3/4 during the mornings. Jacqueline Acorn is a new Kindergarten/support educational assistant, Cally Strandquist is the new family school liaison (counsellor), and Charlotte Rankeillor is the new playschool educational assistant.
On Oct. 14, when the school holds its awards night, the school will announce a special memorial project for former student Andrew Nibourg. The Grade 12 student passed away a week after graduating from William E. Hay Composite High School, and had gone to Erskine School from Kindergarten to Grade 9.
“He was part of our student body and we will be doing something,” Spiller said, though what that something is she would not say – only that it would be revealed on Oct. 14.
The Independent will be featuring articles about the schools in the County of Stettler throughout the month of September.