Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION
Principal Sparling Elementary turns 100
School preps for May 24 celebrations
While you may never be able to go home again, who says you can’t return to your home room?
Lionel Pang attended Principal Sparling Elementary School as a student in the early 1970s. Today, he is charge of more than 200 students as the school’s principal.
Pang acknowledged that his early experiences at Principal Sparling helped shape his current view of the school.
"Elementary school is really kids’ foundation, where they learn to build relationships with peers and teachers, and a place to meet role models," he said.
"This is where I went to school," he added, brandishing a Grade 5 class picture of himself from 1971. "That’s me in the top row. This is my foundation."
Pang could not have chosen a more auspicious time to be the principal of Principal.
The school is currently in the midst of preparing for celebrations to mark its 100th anniversary.
A special evening of entertainment, food and reminiscing is planned for May 24 to mark the occasion.
Pang said the idea of making the celebration a one-day event was elementary.
"Everyone remembers coming to the school, with the all the rest of the students and families for one time a year — for concerts," he said.
The May 24 celebration will include guided tours of the school and a brief talent show.
Construction of Principal Sparling began in 1912. The site was purchased in 1911 for $30,500 and the building was constructed at a cost of $142,000 by local contractors Srynjolfsson and Son.
One of the most striking features of the school is a one-and-a-half storey, classically detailed Tyndall stone portico, above which extends an open bell tower in the centre of the school’s front facade.
"Many, many students of the past have signed bricks inside the tower, noting their graduation year," Pang said.
The school was formally opened on Aug. 18, 1913 with 200 students in attendance from grades one to eight, with eight teachers and a principal. Industrial arts and home economics were also taught. By 1922, there were 19 teachers and 814 students.
Pang said the school has pared down considerably since then.
"Now we’re a nursery to Grade 6 school and have roughly 250 students," he said, adding Sparling counts former Winnipeg mayor Bill Norrie as alumni.
Norrie was on hand as mayor on May 8, 1987 for a double ceremony at Sparling to help celebrate both its 75th anniversary and the opening of a new addition to the building, a 5,330-sq. ft. gymnasium that was built at a cost of $552,000.
The school’s gym walls were recently redecorated to showcase new logos and the nickname of Principal Sparling’s sports teams, the Road Runners.
When it came to picking the new name, Pang asked the school’s experts.
"We surveyed the students."
Principal Sparling Elementary School’s 100th anniversary celebrations begin at 4 p.m. on Thurs., May 24.
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