Closing Celebration of Battlefield School!

(for those of you wishing to not read my elongated memoir written here, please feel free to scroll down to see the photos…and for those who wish to read, this is dedicated to all those with close ties to their roots)

I grew up in Niagara Falls from the age of seven until the age of eighteen.  I then left the Falls, and lived in various places throughout Ontario, until I returned home in 2003 and have lived in Niagara Falls to this day. I’m a bit of a home-town sort of guy – with big aspirations of traveling the world and succeeding at what I love doing best – and have done my fair share already – but it’s always nice to drive around Niagara Falls, or even take a walk through the neighbourhood that I lived in as a child (which is the same one where I presently reside).

I went to Battlefield Elementary from Grade One, right through to Grade 8 graduation year in 1989. That was an epic year for many of us that graduated from the school – and even many of us from our grad class are still in touch with each other to this day – and share many fond memories of the years we spent having fun as kids throughout the halls of Battlefield.

The school was built on the historic battlefield of the War of 1812 Battle of Lundy’s Lane We were all exposed to many history lessons and field trips that taught us about the history of the area, and many of us found it pretty neat that we were getting our first lessons in life on a historic battle ground.  My own mother also grew up in Niagara Falls, in the same neighbourhood, and attended Battlefield School back in the 1950’s. The school was then called “Barker Street School”, and was later named “Battlefield” in 1970. My mom also has very fond childhood memories from her days at the little school on Barker Street in Niagara Falls.

I had heard in Winter of 2011, that the school was to be shut down after the school year was finished in 2011. It was a bit of a shock at first, but like everything else, change sometimes is needed. The school was lacking all the proper funding, and also lacking the kids needed for the proper funding of the school – with a present total of students at just under 130.  Many of the newer families are in different and newer areas of the city, and the kids today live a bit closer to those newer schools. Current students of Battlefield, will be transferred over to nearby Princess Margaret School in Fall of 2011.

I personally will always remember the memories and the great times that we all had during the years at Battlefield.  I mean – come on – who could ever forget how cool Mr. Upper was?  Or the bee hive & the ol’ Maypole?  The old cannon stuck in the ground at the side-rear fence?  The school plays that Mr. Rampado would put on for everyone? The old-school junior & senior dances?  The cross-country and track & field meets? Sliding down the Graveyard Hill?  The Go-Kart rallies?  The introduction of the French language to our every day learning?  The good old McDonald’s Orange Drink? The school trip to CAMP WAHANOWIN??? There are so many more I could mention!! These were the days when we sang Oh Canada and said the Lord’s Prayer every day before class!  Ah, the 80’s. But with all of that said, with the age of the internet, many of us from those days are still very much in-touch with each other, and some of us are still very close friends after all of these years! The bonds we make when we are kids eh? 🙂

And there are of course many more memories I’m sure we all have, and will always have as individuals in this life, and as a past collective troop. Long Live Battlefield!

On May 14th – the school held an Open House/School Closing Celebration – where past & present teachers and student alumni were invited back to the school to take in and re-live some old memories. The entire school was open for anyone wishing to see their old classrooms, and even some of our old teachers were there to meet and have some laughs with.  I attended the event, and received a warm welcome by Staff who were providing cake and refreshments in the gym or otherwise called (and always has been called) – the “General Purpose Room”.  I even met up with my Grade One teacher Mrs. Ring, as well as one of my old favourite teachers – Mr. Rampado – who had me as his Grade 4 student way back in 1985.  Unfortunately I did not see Mr. Upper as I was hoping to. But I had a lot of fun wandering throughout the halls, and through my old classrooms, and even took an exterior walk around the outside of the school (in the rain) to really take in the old memories.

The school had not changed a whole lot – other than the fact that there were more walls. The library had more walls. The classrooms were split and walled more than they used to be – which was an old open-design concept where grades would share the same room together. When I had attended, I recall Grades 1, 2, and 3 all being part of the same room. Grade 4 and 5 were decently shared. Grade 6 and 7 were the same shared classroom – and split between two teachers. Grade 8 if I remember right – we had our own class. I may be wrong about some of this however, as the older I have gotten, the less I have remembered. 🙂

Below are the highlights from the fantastic Open House on May 14, 2011. I’d like to personally thank all of the present staff and students of Battlefield for holding a very wonderful event! I’m hoping this blog entry will stir some fond memories for those of you that I knew when I had attended the school – and as well as anyone else who attended, worked at, or those of you who just have your own wonderful memories of the school.

Thank you Battlefield School for the many childhood memories, and for being the one of the first foundations of learning for the generations of us Niagara Falls kids across the world!

Click the panoramic shot of the Library to see the larger version!

Ms. Marlene Ring – Grade One Teacher in 1982

This was my Grade One & Grade Three Split Classroom. Click the panoramic image to view larger.

The doors to the left lead to where my Grade 4 and Grade 5 classes were back in 1985-1986. They were closed to the public on the day of the Closing Event.

The old Music Classroom!

This was our senior-split room for Grades 6 & 7 – with Mr. Upper and Mr. Kershaw – 1987/88 – Click the photo to view larger.

The entrance to the “General Purpose Room”

The Main Office

The Principal’s Office  (yes I was sent here a few times while attending the school)

SNAP Magazine Photographer Chester Murawski snapping a shot of  current Principal Craig Madill (to the right)

Alumni Staff (from L to R):   Ken Hibbard-First Principal of Battlefield-1970 to 1980, Marlene (Kirk) Johnson-Grade 2-1971 to 1976, Sherrie Mills-Grade 2-1970 to 1985, Marlene Ring-Grade 1 & 2-1970 to 1985, Ed Rampado-Grade 4-1970 to 1990, Karen Olsen Reutter-Grade 3 & 4-1970 to 1982

Ken Hibbard – First Principal of Battlefield School and Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati

A collection of Proud Moments – Including one of my own! Notice the SNAP Magazine Cover for the School Rugby Team from 2008? This was one of my favourite newspaper/media shoots that I had done – and there it was hanging on the Wall of Moments. It was a fantastic surprise for me to see one of my photos being proudly shown in the school!

…and then I took a walk outside…this should really stir up the memories for you…

I have yet to do the repair on this photo – however this was my Mother’s Grade One Class at Barker Street School in 1955. My mother is the little curly blonde-haired girl in the third row from the top and fourth from the left.

My Grade 8 Graduating Class from 1989.

My Grade 4 Class in 1985 with Mr. Rampado – it figures that I’m the only one NOT looking at the camera! 😀

Student & Teacher Reunited after 20 Years!   Hanging out with Mr. Rampado at Battlefield was cool! Thanks to Chester from SNAP magazine for the photo.

~

Plans for the school and the location are still unknown as of this date (May 23, 2011).  Please keep checking back to this blog entry, as it will be updated with photos and information as we receive it. If you would like to include any photos or information of your own and wish to here – please make your request through my personal email address at:   thomas@wellerphotography.ca


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