As the Catholic school board prepares to say goodbye to St. Patrick School, the surrounding community is coming together to assemble a time capsule in the facility’s memory.
Grande Prairie and District Catholic Schools Superintendent Karl Germann says the school has a deep history behind it, which people want to see remembered.
“There are a number of unique things within that school, whether it’s the plaque from the opening or a number of murals that were done by Steve Berger, a former teacher in our school system.”
“It was a community school so at that time, a lot of the community coalesced inside the school and they did a lot of different activities inside. It really was a hub for a long, long time in that community,” he says.
According to Germann, St. Patrick Catholic School was built in the early 1970s, and was constructed primarily from taxpayer contributions. At the time, the government did not fund schools as it does for modern education.
“At that time, the residents had to contribute the money for the construction of the school and the purchase of the land,” he explains.
The capsule will be the first of its kind to be assembled by the GPCSD. Germann adds, however, the GPCSD did recently open a capsule at the division office which had been left roughly 50 years ago.
Initial plans for the capsule will see it buried as the new school is being built in place of St. Patrick. The capsule will sit buried for roughly 25 years, assuming it is remembered to be dug up at the intended date.
“[It’ll] be something people can still open up while they’re still part of the community and they can have a look at it,” says Germann. “It is and was an important part of a lot of people’s education as well as, some of our staff taught for 35 years there. They started their career there and ended their career there.”
Other ways in which previously demolished schools are being remembered include using laminated beams from the former structures in crosses hung in the newer facilities or utilizing metal from the old building for different parts. Germann says these are just some of the ways old facilities can be remembered.
“It’s one of the ways in which you try to connect the ending of a school to the opening of a new school.”
The GPCSD is open to submissions for the capsule from community members until the end of the current school year in June. Artifacts and mementos can be dropped off at the division office downtown.