- Published on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 10:29
- Written by Pat Kolafa | © DrumhellerMail.com
Today (Wednesday) a new era in the history of St. Anthony’s School began as the school was officially opened and blessed by Bishop Frederick Henry, a history that began almost 40 years before the initial school came to be.
In February of this year student were welcomed into the new school on North Dinosaur Trail. The facility has afforded students the possibility to explore more opportunities in their education, as well as grow into its future. This was a leap forward for the school.
While it has been offering students a top-notch education for more than a half-century, this next step expands on what was envisioned early in the history of the community.
The roots of bringing catholic education to the valley go back to the 1920’s. St. Anthony’s Church was constructed in 1914, and in 1920 the parishioners voted to establish a Catholic School Division. This was St. Theresa’s School District #25. The board had a parcel of land picked out for construction, however the plan collapsed and the district was disestablished a year later.
The dream never died and in the fall of 1958, the parishioners again voted to establish a school division, and of the 233 votes cast, 216 were in favour, 12 were against and five were spoiled. The initial board was made up of Tom Neville, Art O’Dwyer, Ted Paetz, George Webber and Bill Doucette. They requested the government allow the new division to use the original District number and they became the Drumheller RC Separate School Division Number 25.
By the fall of 1959 classes were in session, with 173 pupils registered. Sister Anne Marie Colton was the first principal and classrooms were in the basement of the convent, the church hall and the armories building. By April, Bishop Carroll blessed the new school which boasted 12 class rooms; two of which were science laboratories.
The school prospered and grew. After 25 years an expansion was added to the school to keep up with growth. Portable classrooms also began to dot the site. In 2002 the high school program returned to the school, and the need for a larger, modern facility pressed even more. Ground was broke for the new school in 2009. After a few hiccups, including the original contractor and Christ the Redeemer School Division parting ways, the school was complete.
Today the occasion was celebrated with a mass presided over by Bishop Henry, followed by the blessing and then a family barbecue, an annual event to mark the Feast Day of St. Anthony of Padua.