On Sept. 10, 1945, classes started for the first time in a little white one-room schoolhouse southwest of Lacombe on Woody Nook Road.
Today, Lacombe Christian School is celebrating its 75-year anniversary.
The school was planning on holding a community celebration for the anniversary, but because of COVID-19 restrictions, those plans have been put on hold.
“We originally planned to have the kids outside for a group photo. And have a dessert evening and performances, but as of now, everything is on hiatus. We want it to be as inclusive as we can so everyone who wants to participate can,” said Alison Neimeijer, the development officer for Lacombe Christian School.
The students will still be involved in the anniversary despite COVID restrictions. Neimeijer said they are planning on putting a time capsule together and everyone will have a chance to contribute. The kids, in their cohort classrooms, will also be able to watch a slide show with historical photos from the last 75 years and they might see some familiar albeit younger faces in those slides.
“Some of the teachers have been here for a long time, so they can see the photos from the 70s and the 80s,” Neimeijer said.
Martin Folkerts, the principal, has been with the school since 1986. He is disappointed that the original plans have been put on hold.
“I mean it’s a big thing for our community – 75 years. When we have our grandparent’s day, we get like 300 (people). So, there’s a lot of grandparents. This is their school and they want to celebrate it, but of course, we can’t bring 300 grandparents together,” Folkerts said. “So, I don’t know what it’s going to look like and to be honest maybe we will have to celebrate our 75 anniversary in our 76 year.”
Over the years, Lacombe Christian School has seen a few physical changes. The school started out in the one-room schoolhouse and then transitioned to a two-room.
“They actually built a two-room schoolhouse and that one they were in for about six years and they amalgamated with another school that was in town here on this site. Then they built the east campus as enrolment increased and then renovated this and renovated that,” Neimeijer explained.
Folkerts said the east campus was renovated this summer. “The old part of the east campus was completely renovated: flooring, bathrooms entrance ways, a couple classrooms and of course our gym.”
The renovations were one good thing to come out of COVID.
“COVID helped us get started really. We started on the construction a lot earlier,” said Folkerts.
Enrollment for the pre-k to Grade 9 school has been down this year. The school was expecting 385 students, but only 349-350 enrolled – which Folkerts said was understandable under the circumstances.
Despite lower than anticipated enrollment and anniversary setbacks, both Folkerts and Neimeijer are thankful.
“We are so thankful that we are able to celebrate 75 years, celebrate a new renovation, and just also to be back in school,” said Neimeijer. “We pray for a healthy safe school year for everybody – not just our school – but for all our schools.”