It can be hard to fathom the number of voices, choruses of laughter, and echoes of the words of encouragement that have passed through the Brick School in Ponoka in the past nine decades.
Now known as the BRICK Learning Centre, preparations are underway for the school’s 90th Anniversary Celebration, Sept. 27 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the school.
The event is a way to pay tribute to the staff, students and families that have passed through the halls and classrooms of the historic Ponoka school over 90 years.
“The community has been a big part of what we do and the community is what made this building last,” said Ian Tisdale, principal.
“There is the brick and mortar part of this building, but then there is the community and the relationships. Their memories of what happened for each person connects to specific moments, teachers and fellow students, in the days they attended the school, and that is what we hope this celebration can do for everyone.”
The origin of the celebration comes from a commemorative plate found in a local shop by WCPS executive assistant Dawn Bleskie.
“She brought us the plate, after just coming across it at a store in town, and it showed the year the school opened. The idea to celebrate the 90th anniversary started to develop from there,” said Tisdale.
According to the Town of Ponoka’s 20th Century Landmarks publication, the construction and opening of the Brick School in 1929 was not without controversy, as 90 years ago it was seen as “far exceeding Ponoka’s needs.” But it didn’t take long for the school to show its merit with additional students from rural areas and the post war “baby boom” filling the classrooms.
The Town of Ponoka’s Historical Inventory has a phenomenal historical record of the school, as it recounts how the school has changed and grown with demands over the years.
It points to how a “rapidly expanding town” created the need for the new and modern Brick School, which was soon filled to capacity following its opening. As Ponoka continued to grow, satellite classrooms and additional schools were needed.
Today, The BRICK Learning Centre is the place for students to take high school level courses in an alternative learning environment. It changed from Ponoka Outreach School in 2018, and Tisdale says the name The BRICK Learning Centre (Building, Relationship, Independence, Community, Knowledge) speaks to and honours the school’s long history in the community.
“Anyone who you talk to knows of the school or went to this school, or has a relative that went to the school. We wanted to recognise that history when rebranding, and listened carefully to the community as part of that process,” he said.
“It’s that connection we hope this celebration will also embrace and bring back memories for so many people.”
The Brick School’s 90th Anniversary Celebration is Sept. 27 from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Brick Learning Centre at 5004-54 St #3, Ponoka, AB. The event will begin with a brief program with dignitaries and school and Division representatives, before the drop-in open house and tours for visitors.
Everyone is welcome and invited to attend.