The school year has long been an important part of life in British Columbia.
Summerland’s school board was founded in 1903. The board’s meetings were held at the Summerland Hotel in Lowertown. Trustees elected to the board included J.M Robinson as chair, J.R. Brown as secretary and H.C. Atkinson as treasurer.
Summerland became the first school district in B.C. to have a central school system. The three-member board hired Summerland’s first teacher, Minnie Smith (1854-1932) for the 1904-1905 school year.
In the photograph, Smith is at the top right. She was unable to attend the first term of the school year and Ken Hogg filled in as the substitute teacher. Records state that she had 43 students in 1904.
Schools were constructed in Summerland and also in outlying areas including Mineola, Prairie Valley, Garnet Valley and Trout Creek. Many of the early schools were closed in the 1910s to early 1920s.
In 1996, the provincial government took measures to amalgamate 34 of the 75 school districts in the province. The changes meant Summerland joined with Penticton to form the Okanagan Skaha School District. The Summerland school board had first requested that the school board remain independent and later asked that the school district be merged with smaller communities instead of with Penticton.
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