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Letter: High school in Kelowna predates Central School
To the editor:
Congratulations to Central School on the occasion of its 100th birthday. The celebration of this milestone, on Jan. 18, was truly wonderful and sincere appreciation must be extended to those people who organized it. I thoroughly enjoyed myself on Saturday, having the opportunity to have a walk through Central School, visit my former Grade 7 classroom, look at the wonderful displays, and meet so many people with connections to this historic school.
One of the highlights for me was being able to exit through the front door and descend the steps that lead to Richter Street. As a student at Central School, I would never been allowed to enter or exist through the front door.
In the Jan. 17 Capital News article about Central School, the statement was made that Kelowna did not have a high school when Central School was opened in 1914. That is not true. Kelowna did have a high school, although with a very limited number of students.
Prior to 1907, local high school students were taught by Mr. Henderson, who was then in charge of the four-room Kelowna School (known as the Board School, and now the Brigadier Angle Armoury). In 1907, Miss Elizabeth McNaughton organized the first local high school, and classes were held in downtown Kelowna, in the Lawson Block.
In 1909, Kelowna High School (now home of the Kelowna Boys and Girls Club) was opened. Because of a shortage of classrooms for the younger grades, the new High School was soon put to use as an elementary school; the older students attended classes in a small building on Pendozi (now Pandosy) Street. Miss McNaughton was again the teacher of these older students.
In 1914, when Central School opened, the senior students moved into the aforementioned Kelowna High School. Staff increased and, by 1920, there were no less than four high school teachers serving the needs of local students.
And so, Kelowna definitely had a high school in operation, albeit not in the building which had been erected for that purpose, prior to the January 1914 opening of Central School.
Much of the above information was gleaned from “From Slates to Blackboards to Computers,” published in 1999 by The Educational Heritage Committee of the Central Okanagan Retired Teachers’ Association.
Thank you for allowing me to set the record straight about Kelowna’s early high school.