Donalda School turns page on 100 years of memories

Memories of Donalda School from the past 100 years were the focus of attention as former students and teachers were reunited

Memories of Donalda School from the past 100 years were the focus of attention as former students and teachers were reunited for the school centennial on the Canada Day weekend.

“We had between 350 and 400 people at the reunion,” said Don Seale, a teacher at the school for 23 years, and chair of the planning committee.

“It’s like a family reunion of Donalda,” he said during the closing ceremonies.

Travelling from as far away at northern Ontario and Kelowna, B.C., 27 teachers and dozens of students returned home to reminisce about old times to inspire the future of the school.

Among the senior former teachers was Doris Henke Meyer, who was on staff from 1967 to 1975.

Parents teachers and students lauded the small school for its vital role in the community.

“As parents, we felt we had the best teachers in Alberta,” said Barb Clement, whose children were students during the 1980s.

“All the teachers and the principal worked together and to provide students with the best atmosphere to teach and develop our children.”

A teacher of the day echoed that comment.

“We had so many ways to develop their skills in all areas such as sports, music, fine arts, singing and much more,” said Bill Simon, music and band teacher from 1982 to 1985.

Simon revived the Blue Knights marching band for an encore performance.

Back in the early years, two of eldest alumni also commended the school for helping shape their lives.

“It was great schooling back in my day,” said Mysie Dermott (McKay), now 90 years old, who graduated from the school in 1942 after she started her tenure in 1929.

“We had a very good principal.”

“I hope they keep this school open. I hear there’s talk of closing it down.”

An avid athlete in her day, Dermott said she always won many ribbons at track-and-field events.

However, she regretted one thing at school.

“I wish I had studied more, because I love to find out more about history.”

Returning to the school for the first time since he completed Grade 11 in 1946, one student was somewhat robbed of a full graduation.

“When I was in Grade 11, we had six students and when the other five students did not want to come back for Grade 12, the school decided it would not put on a Grade 12 class for one student,” said Ed Matheson, 85.

“My folks couldn’t afford to transport me to Stettler, Bashaw or Camrose.”