© Jocelyn Turner - Amherst Daily News
Grade-5 students Marissa Gouchie (from left), Connor Austin and Connor Voss are excitedly preparing for the West Highlands Elementary School’s 100 Birthday Open House to take place in November. The students have been bringing in various artifacts to symbolize the different historic events the school has seen during its time in operation.
AMHERST – It was built in 1912 and survived two World Wars. The West Highlands Elementary School is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. Students, teachers, and townsfolk alike are getting ready for the big anniversary celebration.
“I’m excited because (the school) has been here for a really long time and a lot of my family has gone here,” said Grade-6 student Bryley McFadden. “I think it’s going to be a really big celebration and there’s been so many things that have gone on throughout the years. It’s really exciting.”
McFadden said in order to get ready for the party, she is going to be helping her fellow students and teachers with their projects for the open house as best she can.
“It may be the last year that (the school) is here and I like to help out a lot around the school, so I’ll basically be helping out and trying my hardest.”
Although there is no set date for the event, that should take place in November, principal of the school, Kevin Mapplebeck, said he and his staff are busy planning many surprises for those coming out for the event.
“Home and School is involved. They have a Facebook page dedicated to it and they’re asking for positive stories about the school from over the past 100 years,” said Mapplebeck. “Anything that reaches the century mark really deserves to be recognized. I think, especially with the hopeful replacement of the school in the near future, it’s doubly important for us to take a look back and remember this school before it possibly becomes no more.”
Over the years, Mapplebeck said many people have returned to the town of Amherst and asked to take a look around the school they once attending, sharing some of their memories with him.
“It’s important for the identity of the community and the kids here to be really proud of this school and to look back and remember the hundreds and thousands of kids and families that have been educated in this building and how much it’s served us over the 100 years.”
The Open House will feature items the students can find to symbolize all the different historical events the school saw during its time in operation. The students will also be putting together a time capsule that will go with them should the school be moved.
“It’s still kind of up in the air really because people keep coming up with some really good ideas,” he said. “Some people have talked about dressing up in period costumes, having an Open House featuring projects the students have put together and we found some relics here from years gone by. Last year, we found the original blue prints from when the school was constructed so we’re going to post those.”
Mapplebeck said because they are still coming up with different ideas and exhibits for the Open House, they are not 100 per cent sure of the exact date. He said once everything is officially finalized, they will announce the date later this month.