Royal Oak school celebrates 150 years

Public invited to Saturday’s open house at the school

Royal Oak middle school students from Phil Large’s Grade 6 class hold a 2016 time capsule to be opened in 2040. Clockwise from front left are Brook McClelland

Royal Oak middle school students from Phil Large’s Grade 6 class hold a 2016 time capsule to be opened in 2040. Clockwise from front left are Brook McClelland

The students who open Royal Oak middle school’s 2016 time capsule in 2040 could be hard pressed to find cassette tapes for the yellow Sony Walkman they’ll find inside it.

Despite being nearly obsolete, the Walkman will join a great many artefacts in the capsule project, which is being led by Phil Large’s Grade 6 class.

“We have a group detailing the top art trends, a group that’s studied the top shoe trends, such as sports and fashion, and another doing the top apps for tablets and phones,” Large said.

Needless to say, the capsule will reveal an in-depth amount of information about 2016, which is the 150th anniversary of the Royal Oak school.

“We have projects going in every classroom, it’s all centred around the 150th,” said vice-principal Ken Bergeron.

The legacy of the school started as the Lake District School erected in 1865 which was originally attended by five boys and 10 girls. The school is now in its fourth edition with 600 students. The inaugural school burnt down in 1883 but its 1885 replacement still stands as Crumsby’s Cafe, while the third edition, a 1952-built elementary building, was torn down for the current 2006 complex.

On Friday, the school is hosting student families to witness the variety of projects, and on Saturday the public is invited for the same, from 2 to 4 p.m.

“There will be a series of presentations and we want this to be a community event,” Bergeron said. “MLA Lana Popham will be here and other community leaders.”

Among the popular student initiatives is the Project of Heart led by teacher Janica Blaikie, with a film, Finding Heart, done for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. There’s also a mural filled with hearts that students created with messages of hope, justice, restoring and love and what it meant to them to learn about the residential school system.

Visitors can also see that each wing of the school is named for a local First Nations animal figure, such as raven and orca.

The school is also mounting a welcoming totem pole created by local carver Doug LaFortune, who recently brought it to the school to demonstrate the process.

“The history of this school is incredible, so many people are connected to it, and a lot of people will enjoy our archives on display [in the foyer],” said Bergeron, pointing to a wall of artefacts and treasures.

“When we cleared out the old school to move into this one we had some parent volunteers who worked to pull all these boxes out of the basement, it’s incredible what they found.”

Among the finds in the display case are two Saanich Public School Athletic Association track and field trophies dating back to the 1930s, as well as letters, photos and other historical documents.

There’s also room in the display case for more. Perhaps, in another 25 years, it will feature a yellow Walkman.