StettlerLocal.com July 14, 2022 @ 11:55am
The first Stettler School was erected in 1907, and for a short while, the two-storey, four-room schoolhouse served its purpose and brought the bulk of Stettler’s in-town students to one place.
However, Stettler's population was growing rapidly, and with the school overflowing again, the school board leased spaces around town once more to help keep students in the system.
The school board took on the building of a new $45,000 school in 1910. It was finished in early 1911, with premier Sifton in attendance at the official opening, as it was considered one of the most up-to-date schools in the country. The eight-room building was three floors and served the community for many years. As the town grew, a high school building was added. In February 1955, the school board opened a new 10-room, $195,000 elementary school, eliminating the need for extra spaces to be rented around town.
By 1956 a second phase of the school expansion was in the works. After a lengthy debate, the school board decided to demolish the 1910 school, and a new middle school would be constructed, keeping the high school to the north and the elementary to the south. A significant reason for this was the school was improving its curriculum to include trade-focused courses. In addition, many students in Stettler had families in the oilfield business, and the school wanted to stay current and competitive. Although unfortunate, an all-new building was deemed more effective than extensive renovations.
Upon demolition of the old school, the workers found a small strong box in the school’s cornerstone. In August of 1957, the chairman of the Stettler School board, Gordon Taylor, attended the meeting of the Town Council, where they opened the strong box and examined the contents inside. Items in the box included photos of Main Street in 1910, a list of all 250 students and seven teachers, old coins, the list of Town Councillors at the time and even photos of Buffalo Lake. The school board built a replacement time capsule into the elementary school during the addition.
In 1992, Stettler Elementary was again undergoing many renovations. The plan was to remove the old infirmary room near the library to allow for more space at that school entrance, among several other things. During the demolition phase of one of the old band store rooms, work crews discovered something unusual, a wall behind a wall. They halted the demolition of that space while school administrator Mr. Malcolm Fischer was brought in to assess the situation. A large stone in the wall identified a time capsule from 1957, but Fischer, who had grown up in the Stettler district, knew nothing about it, nor did other staff.
Workers carefully disassembled the second wall, and they found the 1957 time capsule inside. The school planned an assembly, and they invited community leaders to the grand opening of the forgotten relic. The group moved items from the 1910 capsule to the new one, adding things from the 1957 capsule, such as photos of current students and souvenirs from Stettler’s 50th anniversary.
The Stettler School put the items on display, and members of the community, and students at the school, were asked to submit items to be added to a third-time capsule. Mr. Fischer then contacted the owner of the A&W in town in hopes of acquiring a couple of the tall, metallic cylinders that they use for their soda fountain. Since the tanks were airtight, they were considered a perfect capsule. A&W provided three cylinders. The group put the contents of the original capsule into the new capsule, adding other unique contents, including newspapers, student ID cards, a videotape of the 1992 opening, and more.
Near the end of June this year, the school opened the tiled column which contained the 1992 capsule and removed two of the three cylinders. Unfortunately, the mortar had accidentally sealed the bottom cylinder in place. To prevent too much destruction to the column, the crew opened the last tank in place and removed its contents.
Some of the teachers at the elementary, who were students back in 1992, were reunited with their ID cards. Good times were had by staff and students as they examined the contents. The faculty put many items on display in a case near the column where they spent the last 30 years.
The Stettler Elementary School plans to continue the tradition, including consulting with a local manufacturing business to install a metal sleeve over the time capsule to help preserve the contents and help keep the new capsule from damage.
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