The Early Years... Peace School of Hope

History:

In the early 1950s two pioneers in the history of the Association, Sadie Edgar and Bill Campbell, organized the Association for Retarded Children. The Association applied for federal registration and was approved as a charitable organization. Mrs. Edgar and Mr. Campbell were instrumental in making the Peace School of Hope a reality for the handicapped children in the Grande Prairie area. The school opened in the basement of the Masonic Hall, a space that was donated and, without which, the school would not have been possible. The first teachers were a group of dedicated volunteers who ran the school as best they could with the few resources available to them at the time.

The Association was eventually able to afford its own two-room school and moved into the new location on 96th Street, just north of 100th Avenue. The new school opened in 1959, with an enrollment of thirty-three children. Iris Pollock, a pioneer in the field of education for the handicapped, served as Principal of the school for five years and set the standard for a nurturing environment in which to provide meaningful instruction to the students. In 1967 the Peace School of Hope was expanded to eight classrooms, including a shop and a music room.

A Student Summary Sheet and a 1956 Financial Statement from The Association for Retarded Children are two of the documents that have been saved from the original school files.

The Peace School of Hope ran for twenty years and closed its doors in 1973, when the Public School System assumed responsibility for the education of handicapped.

Best wishes from the staff to the first graduates at the Peace School of Hope were offered in the form of written tributes. A few of the notes are included here.

Barry Ferguson was one of the first students to attend school in Grande Prairie and comes from Grimshaw. He is completely happy in the school and enjoys the companionship of the students at the school. His main interest is cars. If you can’t get Barry to say anything – take him for a car ride and you will be astonished at the running commentary.  We hope Barry will find work that he can handle and we know that he could be used profitably to keep things tidy. Good luck Barry.
Zelda Fraser could quite easily be called “sunshine.” Her ready smile and enjoyment of life are a tonic and example to us at the school. She tries hard at her work and is a willing participant. We will miss Zelda for her leadership in singing. We know that she will fit in at the workshop and wish her the best.
Beverly Sloan is our little mother tidying up and taking care of the little ones’ needs. She has made a step forward in her learning and always works quickly. Bev’s family lives in Spirit River and she lives in the new residence. Bev is interested in household activities and should do well in the home ec department of the workshop. We wish her happy progress there.
Douglas Whyte is the friendliest, most enthusiastic person one could meet. He has a real concern for people and would make a wonderful helper in a day nursery. He has comforted many a small one in tears in our school. He likes to be active and do things for others. We hope that Doug will find lots of things to keep him busy and concerned in the workshop.

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