Elementary students receive special history lesson

Longtime local residents visit Prairie Waters

CHESTERMERE – The Grade 3 students are Prairie Waters Elementary school received a visit from some longtime members of the community on Tuesday, Jan. 31.

Lorraine Gillespie, who has been living in the area for 75 years, along with Joyce McElroy, who has been here 50 years, visited the school to talk about their history in Chestermere.

It gave the students an opportunity to see the difference between what it would have been like to go to school in the 1930’s, compared to now. The ladies talked about how big their classrooms were, how many students attended their school, and how they got to and from school.

This is the second year that the Grade 3’s have had a visit from longtime residents, as Audrey McDonald made a visit last year, bringing with her lots of antique items to teach the kids about the differences between local cultures in the past and present. This year, Gillespie and McElroy brought in photographs and told their stories of growing up in Alberta.

“I talked where I went to school, and mostly what we had to work with at school,” Gillespie said. “I talked about riding horseback or walking two-and-a-half miles to school, and I showed a picture of the horse I rode, which they were very interested in.”

Gillespie said that she explained the differences between the schools then and now, including how in the winter time they had to sit close to a wood burning stove to keep warm while taking their lessons. She also spoke about what kind of school sports their were and what kind of field trips they would take.

“There were lots of differences to talk about, but we touched on the main things, like how the schools only used to be one room,” she said. “I think the only thing in the schoolroom that’s the same today is the alphabet across the blackboard.”

McElroy said that the kids were attentive and had a lot of questions, which she and Gillespie were happy to answer.

“They were very well behaved and paid attention the whole time,” McElroy said. “They had lots of questions about specific details, so it showed that they were attentive and interested.”

Gillespie said, “It was fun to be able to remember things and go through old photos.

“We had a good time.”

Their visit was organized on behalf of the Chestermere Historical Foundation, who are hoping to become more actively engaged with local schools.

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