Tribune Staff Writer
Last week Glendale, the last of the Williams Lake schools slated for closure, held an open house for parents, students and former teachers of the school.
For Maria Lepetich it was an opportunity for one last visit to the school which she both attended and worked.
Lepetich, who was a Calabrese at the time, and five of her siblings attended the school between 1965 and 1980. She later worked at the school during the summer and as a teacher-librarian for 10 years. Her mother, Adriana Calabrese, also learned English at the school, during after-hour classes designed for new Canadians.
“As students, we were under principal Hazel Huckvale. She ran the school with a lot of discipline and high expectations. She always believed if there was good order things would run smoothly,” Lepetich said, reminiscing about when she attended Glendale.
During her late teens, Lepetich returned to the school during the summer to help at a summer transitional school for new Canadians. She recalls working hard to convince newly immigrated families to let their children go camping to help immerse them in Canadian culture.
Later, when she returned to the school as a teacher-librarian in 1993, Lepetich recalls enjoying the sports days where families would pull out blankets and have picnics in the playground.
“With Glendale it always had such great community and parent support,” she said.
Now a teacher and librarian at 150 Mile Elementary School, Lepetich says she understands the need for change in the school district and the closure of the school, but visiting Glendale during its last days has brought up many emotions for her.
“Of course, it’s extremely sad anytime a school closes, but buildings and books are just that, buildings and books. The memories won’t fade,” she said.
“It just makes me very emotional coming and remembering all the great things that happened here. It’s not so much the physical building.”
The school is closing as part of the way School District 27 is saving money as enrolment numbers fall along with Ministry of Education funding.
Among other cost-saving measures, four schools are closing this year, Kwaleen and Glendale in Williams Lake, and Buffalo Creek and 100 Mile Junior Secondary School in the 100 Mile area.
Glendale’s students will be attending Nesika and Cataline elementary schools next year.
The French immersion students will be heading to Nesika and the alternate calendar students are set to attend Cataline.
As part of the transition process students attended tours and visits of their new schools and playgrounds.
The board is welcoming expressions of interest to buy or long term lease 13 school district owned properties, including Glendale Elementary School. The deadline on expressions of interest is Friday, July 26.