AMHERST – Two world wars, the invention of the microwave oven and even silly putty: all things that West Highlands Elementary School saw during its 100 years in existence. The school held an open house Wednesday celebrating the school and everything it survived during its many years of service.
“As a high school student, I was here quite a bit,” said former student Donnie Davis. “I used to mow the grass for the schools as a summer job. It’s pretty interesting coming back over the years and seeing the changes.”
“My grandfather was a janitor here and my father was born here,” said Melinda Goodwin. “My (grandfather) had an apartment down in the basement because he was a janitor here. I don’t know the whole story but (my father) was born here.”
Many former students, like Davis and Goodwin, explored the decorated classrooms and exhibits, some of the photos bringing back fond memories for them.
Over the past few months, the current students were busy putting together different exhibits and timelines to show off just how much the school has seen during its years in Amherst. Principal Kevin Mapplebeck said the students as well as himself and the staff were very excited to show off their hard work to the parents and former students.
“There are a lot of people who still want to do more with their class,” he said. “I think it’s sparked an interest as opposed to reaching a finish line. This will drive kids and motivate them for the rest of the year.”
The Grade 6 classes constructed different timelines, which were on display in the gymnasium. All the classes, Mapplebeck said, chose different eras to portray for their individual projects.
“We’ve got a timeline from the newspaper which I think I have arranged in proper order. One class did a representation of the bell tower, the iconic bell tower that wasn’t here when the school was initially built. When it was put up, they discovered it was too heavy and had to be taken down again,” he said.
There were also dozens of old class photos for visitors to leaf through and see former classmates and even old photos of themselves.
“I’m very excited and pleased with the numbers,” said Mapplebeck. “This is great.”
The students also had different submissions in displays that they will be putting into a time capsule to be buried at the school.
Councillor Terry Rhindress made an appearance at the event to present a certificate to Mapplebeck on behalf of the town in honour of the school’s anniversary.