Buckingham school marks 50th with Sept. 29 event
When Dana Juba was a student at Burnaby's Buckingham elementary in the late 1960s and early '70s, there was a farm with cows and horses off Burris Street and Canada Way.
The site of the No. 1 fire hall at Sperling Avenue and Canada Way was home to a barn and horse trails where she took riding lessons.
Moms were mostly of the stay-at-home variety, and just about all her classmates only spoke English.
By the time her own three children finished attending Buckingham, the last in 2008, the neighbourhood was quite a different place.
But through it all, she said, the school's sense of community remained.
On Saturday, Sept. 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., that community will be celebrated at Buckingham as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Back in 1967, when Juba started Grade 3, the gym was only half the size it is now, and the changing rooms were under the stage.
"It's storage now but I can tell you it smells exactly the same," said Juba, 53, one of the organizers of the anniversary event.
In class, when she finished all her work, she would routinely help tutor classmates, a mentoring program that helped both tutors and students.
On the playground in the spring, Grade 7 students would organize baseball games with students of all ages, which also helped create a more cohesive school community, she said.
Intramural sports included games she rarely sees today, such as quoits, played like volleyball only with a hard rubber ring that was thrown over the net and caught.
"If you weren't going to catch it, you should duck," she said with a laugh.
As one of the smaller schools in Burnaby, it was a fairly tight-knit group of students, with Juba still hanging out with friends from elementary school today.
She knows of several other Buckingham alumni who, like her, had children who attended the same school.
Times have changed, of course. Today, there are more students with English-as-a-second-language (ESL) or special needs. Celebrations of multiculturalism and diversity are now common.
But it continues to offer a semblance of stability. Juba noted the school had the same secretary for 16 years.
Laurel Gurnsey, another of the event organizers, taught at Buckingham for 19 years before retiring in 2004. She recalled there were 13 teachers there who, at one point, went upwards of eight years without transferring to another school.
As for demographics, she said her first year at Buckingham in 1985-1986, she had no ESL students but by the time she left, half her class was ESL.
With a strong ESL program, those students are now quickly integrating into the school community.
Gurnsey noted that it's the sort of school where she became personal friends with parents and former students, and where she continues to stay involved, volunteering to run its gardening club.
"It's not an official community school but it feels like one."
• The 50th anniversary celebration will offer a chance for former students, staff and teachers to catch up and celebrate the memories. It's a ticketed event, costing $10 for those 13 and older, $5 for ages four to 12, and free for those three and under. The cost includes a program filled with five decades of nostalgia, a hot dog lunch, muffins and coffee. Any leftover money will be contributed towards new playground equipment being purchased by the parents advisory committee.
For more details and to order tickets, visit buckingham.sd41.bc.ca or call the school at 604-664-8616.