One of the smallest elementary schools in Quebec is planning to celebrate its centennial anniversary this fall.
Soulanges Elementary is a two-room schoolhouse built in 1919 that sits in the rural town of Saint-Télesphore near the Ontario border. There are two teachers, two aides, one part-time principal and 19 students.
“I absolutely love it,” Kate Clare, one of the teachers, told Global News during a visit Wednesday.
The students are enrolled in kindergarten through Grade 4 classes this year. Classes are divided based on grade but a lot of the learning is done together due to limited space. However, the teachers do follow the government’s curriculum for education at the elementary level.
“You really have to be resourceful and kind of figure out things on your own but it’s really rewarding,” Marie-Hélène Townshend, a French teacher who has been at the school for 13 years, told Global News.
The school’s physical size and enrollment may be small but its pupils and staff have an enormous school spirit.
“I have a lot of friends to play with in the yard,” Grade 2 student Kayla Huctingame said. “And I have good teachers that teach me well in school.”
The school’s origins date back to the 19th Century when it was built not far from the current location.
In 1919, it was rebuilt at the current location as a one-room school house. In the late 1990s the school expanded to a two-room school house. The school is part of the Lester B. Pearson School Board.
“Being the principal of the smallest school in our school board really has been very special,” said Dion Joseph, the school’s principal.
Joseph is a part-time principal for the school and only needs to be there a few times a month.
Only grades five and six are missing this academic year but that can change year-to-year depending on enrollment.
“I wish I could go back and send my own children here because it’s an amazing way to teach,” said Clare.
The bilingual school is made up of francophones and anglophones and teaching is done in both languages. The students who learn together are more like family than classmates.
“I like that there are many arts and crafts and projects,” Tyler Deshaies, a Grade 3 student told Global News.
The school is organizing a big centennial bash to mark its 100th anniversary later this fall.