SOOKE HISTORY: When Sooke school consisted of three rooms

Thirty-three students and four grades made up the workload for longtime teacher Annie Acreman in the 1938-39 school year at Sooke Superior School. (Sooke Region Museum)

Thirty-three students and four grades made up the workload for longtime teacher Annie Acreman in the 1938-39 school year at Sooke Superior School. (Sooke Region Museum)

Elida Peers | Contributed

Thirty-three students and four grades made up the workload for longtime teacher Annie Acreman in the 1938-39 school year at Sooke Superior School.

These young people were photographed in the field behind the school, looking towards where the Sandpiper and RCMP detachment are today.

While Annie Acreman taught grades 4, 5, 6, and 7, Wilfred Orchard was principal, and taught grades eight to 10 in the rear half of the two-room structure that had been built alongside the old one-room school in 1919. In the one-room building, Florence Horne taught grades one, two, and three.

It might be nice to think that the term “superior” school meant we were extra smart, but it actually meant that the school included students beyond the nominal Grade 8 expected at that time.

Students planning to go on to college, once they passed Grade 10, were boarded by the Victoria school board to attend Vic High to complete their Grade 12 graduation.

Back row: Annie Acreman, Larry Rumsby, Stanley Cains, Ward Baker, Mary Stephenson (became Mrs. Dick Cains), Louise Maloan, Edna Pontious (became Mrs. Bill Korpan) Ed Pontious, two Maloan brothers? and Louis Planes. Second row: Norma Stolth (became Mrs. Bob Lajeunesse), Georgina Manzer, Joyce Baker, Florence Syrett, Edna Syrett (became Mrs. John Nelson), Agnes Laberge, Audrey Sullivan (became Mrs. John Wilson), Merle Forrest (became Mrs. Bill Proteau), Signa McMeekin, Joan Rumsby (became Mrs. Larry Zipp), Margaret McMeekin, Marie Michelsen (became Mrs. Art Hay), May Duncan, Christine Michelsen (became Mrs. Jack Blight). Front row: Frank Cross?, Lloyd Hansen, Allan Milligan, Bruce Baker, Henry Hanson, Pat Forrest, Billy Charters, Laurie Wilson, and Pete Hansen.

Two years after this photo, with the Second World War underway, Sooke’s population increased, resulting in a shortage of classroom space. Grades three and four were then housed in a Curtis Muir-built house where the Sheringham Distillery is now.

I was in that schoolroom for two years, and recall that while the house had a bathroom, it was reserved for girls, and boys were relegated to a backyard outhouse.

Building of new classrooms on the main school site continued throughout the war, and of course today, the old school buildings are long gone.

Not sure of the status of most in this photo, but three we know are still with us today, Larry Rumsby and Pat Forrest in Sooke and Hank Hanson in West Vancouver.

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Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.