Thetis Island’s ‘new’ school in 1923. The teacher was Miss Trowse. It opened in 1922. (Photo submitted)

Thetis Island’s ‘new’ school in 1923. The teacher was Miss Trowse. It opened in 1922. (Photo submitted)

Thetis Island one-room schoolhouse marks 100 years

Cherished role in the community stands the test of time

As many head back to school this week, students at Thetis Island Elementary school are returning along a century-old path. September 2020 marks 100 years since the first school on Thetis opened with 15 students in a crude one-room building on the shore of Telegraph Harbour.

By 1922, a new school had been built by the community on North Cove Road. There were 14 students, including the legendary Adam Hunter. The school was heated by a wood stove. It was the teacher’s duty to ensure the stove was lit and the building was warm before the students arrived. The school was equipped with chairs and desks with inkwells. There were blackboards on the wall and students had slates and notebooks to do their work.

From 1930 to 1950, there were not enough students to support a school so children were taught by correspondence.

The third school was built in the current location on North Cove Road, after much advocacy by the community. This ‘modern’ one-room schoolhouse, complete with electricity, indoor plumbing and a phone line, was built at a cost of $14,000 for land and building. It opened in September 1951. Except for a brief closure by the Cowichan School District in 1972, it has remained open ever since despite a number of further attempts to close it. With each threat, community members have come together to ensure the school continues. The School District receives an annual ‘small community supplement’ government grant of $180,000 because of the Thetis school.

While people have come and gone and many things have changed over the 100-year history of the little one-room schoolhouse, something that has stood the test of time is the vital and cherished role of the school in the community. This has been proven over and over again by the generosity of spirit of community members who always supported the school to ensure the generations to come can experience the special quality of learning uniquely offered by the Thetis Island school. There is a strong sense of belonging for all who attended, knowing that the school is and always has been the heart of the Thetis Island community.

“Our community’s commitment to our school is, and always has been, remarkable beyond words. This is the real reason that we celebrate 100 years of Thetis Island School,” said former school parent Kelly Bannister.

“Thetis Island Elementary School is the last teaching position of my career and it is certainly my best and most rewarding,” noted the school’s current teacher, Genny Redman. “You might wonder what makes this school so special and different from other schools. Well, there are so many reasons. Students care for and support each other. As a teacher you can connect with each child on a deeper level as you teach the students for multiple years.”

Educational Assistant Simone Luckham shares Redman’s sentiments: “What stands out the most for me in our multi-age, one-room school is the sense of family. Just like a family, the students have someone to look up to, and later on to take care and be mindful of.

“The students learn that each person counts and that they are all part of a whole.”

Luckham also reflects: “the school is like a fabric woven of many different colours, textures, and patterns…. creating a strong cloth of extraordinary beauty that ties us all together and forms a unique bond with each and every one.”

“We call Thetis Island Elementary School TIES for short… it ties us all together!”

In honour of 100 years since the school first opened, the Thetis Island Parents Association is hosting a virtual celebration on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/100yearcelebrationofthetisislandschool

This Facebook group is for anyone (past and present) connected with Thetis Island school to share school photos, historical facts, and favourite school memories or reflections. The hope is to create a centennial memory book by the end of the 2020-21 school year from what is shared in the Facebook group.

Happy 100 years of community school spirit to Thetis Island!

* For more on the school and its history, see Page 2.

Educationhistory

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A police car at the scene of a child’s death Friday, April 9, at the Falcon Nest Motel in Duncan. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
RCMP investigating child’s death at Duncan’s Falcon Nest Motel

First responders attended to a call about an unresponsive child at the… Continue reading

Rainforest Arts in downtown Chemainus is closing temporarily. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Rising COVID cases cited in temporary Rainforest Arts closure

Contact can still be made through email and social media

The Red Zed 1 aroused a great deal of curiosity when it was stationed off Kin Beach in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Alaskan fast ferries the eventual load for heavy hauler

The Red Zed 1 stayed anchored in Chemainus for the better part of a month and a half

North Cowichan is looking for public input through a survey as it updates its Master Transportation Plan. (File photo)
North Cowichan looking for public input on transportation

Online survey to be held until April 22

The Bowen Queen has a slightly larger capacity than its predecessor on the Crofton-Vesuvius route. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Bowen Queen on the Crofton-Vesuvius ferry route until October

MV Quinitsa temporarily moved to Buckley Bay

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
Vancouver Island team helps make $368 million three-tonne cocaine seizure

12 members from 19 Wing Comox involved in Op Caribbe

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photos courtesy Ella Smiley)
Chainsaw and friends near the beach thrill orca watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

Nootka Sound RCMP and DFO Conservation and Protection Officers seized this 30 foot vessel, fishing gear and equipment as well as Chinook salmon, salmon roe, rock fish and ling cod after an investigation on Sept. 11. A judge in Campbell River on February hit the owner and his accomplices with significant fines, a ban on holding fishing licences and loss of equpment, including the boat’s motor and trolling motor. RCMP photo
Washington State trio’s fisheries violations the worst veteran officer has seen in 20 years

Judge bans three men from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

Most Read