Irda Dyck most remembers the deep bond she felt with her classmates at Abbotsford Christian School (ACS).
Erin Hall feels that same sense of family whenever she steps into the school.
It’s something that hasn’t changed in 60 years.
ACS recorded a milestone this month: It has been six decades since the elementary school first began operation in the basement of First Christian Reformed Church (seen in photo below during the school's first year), now Gateway Community Church.
It is now located on Old Clayburn Road and has expanded over the years to include a middle and secondary school campus just one kilometre down the road. A preschool has also been added to the elementary campus.
Dyck was in Grade 7 when ACS first opened its doors in 1953 with just 90 students. All five of her children have attended the school, and two grandchildren are current students.
The Halls first became part of the ACS family seven years ago, when their son Riley, now in Grade 7, began kindergarten. Two other Hall children also attend the school: Makenna, in Grade 4, and Katelyn, in Grade 1.
Dyck and Hall agree that, despite the generations between their ACS experiences, the school offers something special.
“The school has amazing families – parents who volunteer above and beyond what is expected of them,” Hall said.
Dyck said she appreciates the warm welcome she receives whenever she visits ACS for her grandchildren’s activities.
She said although the school spirit remains the same, much has changed over the decades.
In the early years, teachings were strictly academic with no extracurricular or cultural offerings.
“I think the kids now have way more freedom to express themselves,” she said.
Dyck laughs at the memory of that first year, when teachers were trying to establish their authority with new students and develop their curriculum.
“The boys were pretty rough … They used to jump out of the window to run to the bathroom (which was located outside of the church),” she said.
Dyck said she will always remember the special bond that she and her classmates formed with one another.
Hall heard good things about ACS when it was time for Riley to begin school, and a tour of the site clinched it for her and her husband.
“We just liked it. We thought, ‘This is where our kids should go’ … When we walked in the doors, it didn’t feel overwhelming … It felt comfortable,” she said.
Her youngest child has special needs, and Hall said she appreciates that Katelyn is never made to feel different from the other students.
“Here, I feel she is valued as much as any other child.”
ACS now serves 945 students and 452 families from preschool to Grade 12. A 60th anniversary celebration will be held at the end of the school year on June 21, 2014.
For more information, visit abbotsfordchristian.com.