The Ainge family has put in its time at École Centrale, formerly known as Central School.
The Ainges are one of two three-generation families the school has discovered as it celebrates its 100th anniversary. The line began early on, as Grace Ainge began attending the school in 1921, and attended for 11 years.
Her son, Jack, went there from 1951 to 1959 and took classes from Grade 1 to Grade 8, and his daughter, Jillian, went there beginning in 1988. Jillian attended from kindergarten to Grade 4, when the school offered both English and French programs, but it went to full French immersion in 1996, changing its name to École Centrale at its 604 Day St. location.
Grace, 96, said she still remembers all her teachers from Central and has fond memories of her time learning there.
"It was a happy place to be," said Grace from her home in Langley, B.C. "It was much stricter than schools are now. You went to school to learn."
Grace, whose daughter Pamela also attended Central, noted she doesn’t have any striking memories of her time at the school anymore, but feels that’s a result of having a content time there.
Jillian’s attendance included time in both the old and new school buildings. The original building was torn down in 1994 after being deemed unsafe.
"There was a classroom they had built in the old school, with the old school desks, and the pinnies, and every time I went in there, I was like ‘This is what my grandmother used to wear,’" Jillian said. "It was set up like it was when she was in school."
Jack bought three bricks from the original school, and they still sit in the basement of his Transcona home.
"Except for about four years, I’ve lived here all my life," he said, noting he has also lived in St. Vital and North Kildonan. "It means a lot."
Jillian said her attendance at the school was more special to her than it was to the bulk of her classmates.
"I know a lot of people I went to school with only went there because they were taking French immersion," said Jillian, who still has memorabilia like class photos and T-shirts from the school. "It was the closest school to my house, anyway."
While none of the family ended up having any of the same instructors, Jillian still maintains a close link to Sid Shapira, who was a co-principal at the school before going on leave in February. He was her Grade 4 teacher, and also her principal at École Regent Park.
The school is hosting its 100th anniversary celebration on Sept. 28 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and alumnus Ace Burpee of 103.1 Virgin Radio will serve as emcee. For more information, visit http://schools.retsd.mb.ca/ec/Pages/100Anniversary.aspx