Red Deerians celebrate 100 years at North Cottage School

School officials, members of the community and past and present students attended a celebration which commemorated the 100th anniversary of the North Cottage School last week.

Today North Cottage School, located at 5704 60 St. is used as an alternative school for high school students.

The school was built in 1912 after a contract for a two-roomed cottage school was let to Baird and McKenzie on a bid of $3,925.

Shirley Hocken, who attended North Cottage School in 1949 when she was in Grades 1-2 said the anniversary celebration is especially meaningful.

“I had to walk down to the school. There was no bus service and I had to get here by either my parents or by walking. The fact that the school still exists is really a neat thing. And for me to come back here is great. There are many people that have come and stopped and looked at the school who have attended here,” said Hocken.

“It is a provincial heritage site and it’s great that the school exists and it is being used as a school and that goes to show that even though it’s 100 years old it can be used as the original purpose,” said Hocken.

“It’s gone from being a Grade 1 to Grade 9 school when it first opened to being just a minor elementary school, then it was used as an overflow school then we used it to have bingos and other functions. It was then closed up and used for storage. Our community said we needed it to be restored to its heritage status.”

Around the same time the school was built in 1912, a row of spruce trees were also planted along the street in front of the school. Today, those trees remain as well.

As part of the 100th anniversary celebration last week students planted an apple tree on the site.

In addition, Chad Erickson, who has been the principal at North Cottage School for three years, said staff and students who attend the school feel like they are part of a family.

“The students have been a big part of the celebration. We had a number of them come back to the school to help with the celebration. It comes back to the fact that the tree planting is a symbol of the family.

“North Cottage School is about being family and community-minded. Every student that comes through this school has a feeling that they are a part of something here. There is that sense of belonging that maybe they didn’t have at another mainstream high school.”