The Board of Trade, which managed the civic affairs of the town until January 1913, set up a school Committee with J.C. Trenaman as chairman.
The committee had a one-room school built on the N.W. corner of the present East School block. It opened January 6, 1913 with 26 pupils and Mr. Erb DeBow as teacher.
By February the enrollment had increased so rapidly that another teacher had to be hired and the Metropolitan Church, which stood on the N.E. corner of the intersection of 5th Ave. East and Centre St. was used as a classroom.
By May there were 83 pupils and still another teacher, Mrs. Maude Jones was engaged. She and Mr. DeBow conducted classes in that one-room at the same time.
Special assemblies of all students used the Empire Theater.
(It was interesting to note that this building was later moved to 326 2nd Ave. W. and for many years served as the Lutheran Church. In 1960 it was moved to 213 7th Ave. E. renovated and is now a fine looking dwelling).
Fortunately a bit of memorabilia from that first school is in the archives of the museum; an illustrated scroll listing the names of all 82 pupils, the signatures of the three teachers and members of the school board. This is the work of Mr. Erb DeBow whose hobby was painting. One of his paintings is also on display.
By the fall of 1913 there were more than 100 students. It is not clear how they managed but more outside accommodation was found; The Herald Hall was used for a short time and it is believed that a log house at 102 4th Ave. East was also used. A forth teacher was engaged.
In February of 1914 two proposals were presented to the residents: a debenture for $30,000 be issued to build a 4-room school or a $45,000 debenture for an 8-room school. The $30,000 debenture was chosen.
Mr. L. de Jurkowski, that fine Hanna architect, was engaged and on June 24, 1914 the corner stone was laid. On August 24, 1914 the school was open for public inspection and classes started. This fine school was the pride of Hanna, the first major public building.
Fortunately men of vision were in charge of affairs; they acquired the whole of the 200 block between 5th and 6th avenues east. This block served the land needs of the school system until 1954 – 40 years.
The brick school was demolished in 1970. Once again the Historical Society was able to acquire some valuable memorabilia, namely the corner stone on which was carved Hanna School built 1914. In the corner stone was a glass jar containing many articles, all in good condition. The list of its contents follows:
Four photos, two of Hanna streets, one of the schoolclasses of 1913 taken in front of the Empire Theater and one of the first train pulling into Hanna.
Two 1912 nickels – the small ones now only seen in coin collections and a medallion, perhaps pertaining to the coronation of George V.
A document which is of special interest, signed by Mayor H.H. Halladay, the members of Hanna’s first town council, the school trustees and treasure, the teachers, the contractor, the architect and the editor of The Hanna Herald, Herb McCrea. When the corner stone was recovered 56 years later, Bob McCrea, son of the founding editor, was one of the three persons present.
But back to school history. The solid brick school served the needs for many years. By 1920, the problem of classroom space was being felt. The population had increased and more rural students were coming in for high school. Rural schools offered only grades one to eight. A part of the basement was renovated and used as a classroom. The former cottage hospital was pressed into service and finally a two-room school was built on the west side of the block. This school is now the main building of the museum. These temporary measures filled the gap until 1928 when the necessary major step had to be taken. An eight-room brick addition was added to the brick school and a water system was installed. Once again the flock was all gathered into one fold. The high school now offered grade 12 in the south section and grades one to 12 in the new section.
And everything was fine, at least until the 1940s – but history repeats itself. Again there was overcrowding.
The two-room school was put back into service, a building always referred to as the scout hall, on a lot opposite the southeast corner of the school grounds. By 1950 several rural schools had been moved in to serve as classrooms and the school grounds was a clutter.
The increasing population due to the baby boom following the second world war was the basic cause of overcrowding, but changing times put a tremendous strain on the educational system. Once a basic education, the 3 Rs, some history, geography and basic science filled the needs of the majority of the school population. The explosion of knowledge in every field demanded highly trained people and the schools were hard pressed to keep up with the demands of shop courses: home economics, mechanics, business education, kindergarten, visual arts, drama, music, science laboratories, library service, advanced sports programs, driver’s education and others.
Hanna has not lagged behind. Through the years since 1954 the system has expanded, if not painlessly, certainly successfully to include the full range of options.
Three completely new schools have been built as well as a large extension to the east school. Today we have two individual schools: grades 4 to 12 on the north west end of town and K to 3 on the original east block. Each has its own extensive playing fields, well stocked library with full time staff and a good gymnasium.
Since the forming of the Rangeland School Division, the Hanna facilities serve not only the town but the surrounding area.
Text Courtesy of The Hanna Herald
School designed by Hanna architect in 1914
John C Charyk High School