Highlights of South Perth Centennial School’s First 50 Years

In preparation for the SPCS 50th Anniversary Celebrations, Susan Wilson and Joan Swiderski compiled an excellent timeline of the school’s 50 years that was on display for the roughly 500 visitors in attendance this weekend. We have included many of those timeline highlights below so that those who were unable to attend can enjoy Susan and Joan’s look back…

1967 – South Perth Centennial School opens for the first time, with students coming from the following regions: Anderson, Iredale, Baseline, Metropolitan, Glendale, Fish Creek, Transvaal, Rannoch, Science Hill, Salem, Kirkton, Whalen, Woodham, Townline, Wildwood, and St. Marys. The school population for the first year was 460 students, with 15 classes and 54 graduates.  (Publishers’ note: 8 of the original 12 school staff were able to attend the 2017 anniversary, including Principal Gerry Walter and Vice Principal Tom Loghrin).

1969 – Electives Programme introduced to develop in many directions as well as develop a sense of responsibility and self-discipline. It started out with French, Drama, Music, Art, Math, Geography, Science and Phys. Ed, but in later years involved such things as Cake Decorating, Cooking, Skiing, Curling, Snake Lady, Woodworking, Make Up, Knitting, Crafts and even Taxidermy. Parent volunteers, teachers as well as paid instructors taught the students many skills (Publishers’ note: many present-day curlers including St. Marys Curling Club manager Amie Shackleton got their start from the electives program)

South Perth Centennial School's 50th Anniversary Celebrations were a great opportunity to reconnect for SPCS alumni and staff alike. Pictured here are a number of staff and teachers who have worked at SPCS over the years.  Top row from left to right: Glenda (Miller) Walter, Clare French, Gerry Walter, Harry Norris, Wilma Dunlop, Louise Bell, and Mildred Cowdrey; Bottom row: Lissa Puttock, Ann Zwaan, Pam Ford, and Joan Swiderski.
South Perth Centennial School’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations were a great
opportunity to reconnect for SPCS alumni and staff alike. Pictured here are
a number of staff and teachers who have worked at SPCS over the years. Top row from left to right: Glenda (Miller) Walter, Clare French, Gerry Walter,
Harry Norris, Wilma Dunlop, Louise Bell, and Mildred Cowdrey; Bottom row:
Lissa Puttock, Ann Zwaan, Pam Ford, and Joan Swiderski.

1970 – A Walk-A-Thon raised $500 for the School Yearbook, with 76 students participating by walking 15 miles from South Perth to Fullarton Park and back

1971 – Students were SNOWBOUND for 3 days and 2 nights. Students slept on desks and gym mats and were well fed by generous neighbours. Fortunately a bread truck became stranded near the school. Breakfast consisted of an egg sandwich or weiner on a slice of bread and lunch would be crackers with jam or honey and a donut or bun. The senior girls turned the situation into a huge pyjama party. By 5 o’clock on the third day, everyone had left the school, if not to home to a friend’s house.

1975 – This was the first year for the “Practical Arts Program”. Grade 7 and 8 students were bussed to Arthur Meighen to take part in Industrial Arts and Home Economics. This program continued until the mid 1990s.

1978 – The Christmas Concert was cancelled due to an ice storm. It was rescheduled for after the Christmas holidays. Unfortunately another storm hit so the Christmas concert was terminated permanently that year.

1979 – The first playground equipment was installed by volunteers. There was a senior tire net, junior fort, kindergartens’ slide and a sand box as part of the fort.

Early 80s – St. Marys Central was closed for renovations and 3 classes moved to South Perth

1982 – The Terry Fox Run (Marathon of Hope) started at South Perth. Students were bussed to Wildwood and later the run was moved to the SPCS grounds. One year the students walked the halls due to a rain storm. Over the years SPCS students have raised over $83,000 for cancer research.

1983 – A classroom located in the west wing, next to the grade 8 room, was designed for computers and stocked with Commodore 64s. Up until 1983 a few computers were available in each classroom.

1990 – This was the first year that SPCS entered the September Kirkton Fair Parade. This was also the year of the First Family Funfest which has now become a major fundraiser for the school.

1990 – SPCS students perform the operetta “Anne of Green Gables”. Over the years, several operettas were put on including Peter Pan, Wizard of Oz, Oliver, Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins, Fiddler on the Roof, and Guys and Dolls.

1992 – In SPCS’ 25th anniversary year, the school had 254 students, with 11 classes and 16 graduates. The Anniversary Celebration this year was known as “Reflections Alive”.

1993 – To encourage the love of nature, a Butterfly Garden was built beside the garage. An activity of the Naturalist Club was to construct a habitat for butterflies including a water feature and plants.

Stewart Grant visits his old kindergarten classroom though it seems smaller than he remembers.
Stewart Grant visits his old kindergarten classroom though it seems smaller than he remembers.

1994/95 – The Arboretum was started on the south side of the school which was intended to be used as an outdoor classroom, creating a natural setting with rocks, flowers and trees native to the area. These trees are planted by graduating classes to celebrate special occasions and in honour of individuals who have contributed to the South Perth Centennial School Community.

1996 – Mr. and Mrs. Everitt retired after being custodians at the school since it opened in 1967. They planted a tree in the arboretum upon their retirement and were honoured on the 25th anniversary.

1998 – Kindergarten changed to Early Years which meant children turning 4 before December 31st could now attend school.

1998 – Huron and Perth school boards amalgamated and Avon Maitland District School Board was formed.

2001 – Directors Action Report: SPCS on the list for closure. Parents united to fight the proposal and after many anxious moments, were successful.

Early 2010s – The Next Generation Learning was introduced at SPCS with the addition of Smart Boards and individual students’ tablets. Gone are the times of blackboards and chalk.

2017 – At present, South Perth Centennial School has 170 students, with 7 classes and a graduating class of 24 students.

2017 – The school’s 50th Anniversary Celebration was truly a heart-warming affair full of joy and laughter. A big thanks go to everyone involved in making it a special occasion

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