Ray Shepherd Elementary’s Grade 7 class from the school’s inaugural year, alongside teacher and school principal Guy Weston (far left). Contributed photo

South Surrey elementary school to celebrate 70 years

Ray Shepherd Elementary to host anniversary event

An event celebrating the long history of one of South Surrey’s first schools is set for next week.

On Sept. 26, Ray Shepherd Elementary will mark its 70th anniversary with an event hosted by the school’s current Parent Advisory Committee, which PAC member Alison Whittome told Peace Arch News is a chance for “alumni to come take a walk down memory lane.”

The event is set to run from 2:30-6 p.m., with a cake-cutting at 5 p.m. The celebration will also include children’s entertainment, a 50/50 draw, photo booth and give school alumni the opportunity to reconnect with each other as well as see how much the school has changed over the years.

Proceeds from the 50/50 draw will be put towards a legacy bench to commemorate the event, PAC president Aimee Van Nuland-McDonald said.

Van Nuland-McDonald has strong family ties to the school. She is an alum of Ray Shepherd herself, and her daughter – now in Grade 11 at Elgin Park Secondary – had the same Grade 1 teacher as she did years earlier.

“We have seen a lot of changes to the neighbourhood… but, as always, White Rock and Ocean Park is a community of families. When I took over as president I wanted to really bring back that community feel to our school,” she told PAN.

“With growth, sometimes it gets hard to stay together as a community. We have tried over the last few years to have events that bring our community together… this gives our families a chance to get to know each other.”

Ray Shepherd Elementary (1650 136 St.) is named after White Rock pioneer John Ray Shepherd, who was a Surrey School Board member for 13 years between 1932 and ’52. Built in 1949, it began as a four-room school, while the basement housed a kitchen, recreation area and washrooms.

By the 1960s, the kitchen had been converted into a Grade 1 classroom – and, later, a special-education room – while a library was also eventually added to the basement. A few years after that, new classrooms as well as an office were added, along with a gym and medical room.

The school continued to expand – by 1989, four portables were on site – and eventually other schools were built nearby to take the pressure off Ray Shepherd’s rapidly growing population.

Currently, the school has 16 classrooms and 362 students, Nuland-McDonald said.

“The 70th anniversary is a chance for us to celebrate the positive influence this school and its community has had in our lives. The friends we’ve made, the teachers that influenced us, and the home it provides for our students,” she added.


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