Annaleigha Jesson, eight, sings as part of the choir at South Rutland Elementary’s 50th birthday, Friday at the elementary school. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Kelowna elementary school turns 50

South Rutland Elementary’s 50th birthday celebrations took place Friday afternoon

Kelowna residents Peggy Williams and Laura Brownlee remember what it was like to attend South Rutland Elementary in 1965.

“The field was all rocks and we used to collect them. For gym class we used to run around outside and I broke my finger back then,” said Williams, indicating her finger which still has a curve.

With a blast from the ’60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s up to today, South Rutland Elementary celebrated its 50th birthday Friday.

Students and parents gathered for a slice of cake, watched performances by the students and learned about the history of Rutland and the school.

“One thing I vividly remember is standing outside at recess, eating my snack, watching the orchardists spray the orchards,” said Brownlee.

Rutland was historically a farming community.

For the faculty at South Rutland, the celebration is about community.

Principal Mark Watson has been with the school for two months and with the district for 10 years.

“It’s less about the building, than the building of community. When you go in (the gym) you can look at pictures of Rutland in the late ’50s and early ‘60s, there’s nothing there, it’s only farms. Now look at the community that’s grown around us,” he said.

Watson dressed as Elvis for the occasion. Other faculty members also wore costumes from the past in honour of each era which included Austin Powers and Michael Jackson.

Retired principal Cathie Mutter spoke to the crowd of students and parents, with flowers in her hair.

“I may have hatched the idea just because it’s a milestone and it’s important we celebrate milestones,” she said.

The gym was half the size when the school opened, some classrooms and the library didn’t exist.

When the school opened in the ’60s, Mutter estimated they had around 150 students, but that number quickly doubled with renovations after the school’s official opening.

Now, she said, it sits at around 220 students.