Updated: Aug 17, 2019
Our Satinwood yarn is named for the school that I used to attend with my sisters and brother and that my children would also later attend. It was a rural school out in a small community north of Clive, Alberta - and as anyone who grew up in a remote place knows, rural schools keep a little place in your heart long after you've graduated out of them.
Satinwood was built in 1952 (...well, technically the original school was established in 1908 - but that building building was accidentally burned down by a drifter who tried to use the building for shelter but didn't know how to safely use the furnace. Whoops!) and was maintained & modernized right up through the early 2000s. Operated by Wolf Creek School Divison #72, it enrolled over 160 rural students at its peak and averaged over 80 students during its golden years.
The school's early years involved, among other things, mischievous students crawling through and playing with mice in the ventilation system, and school staff using the furnace to melt the interior of peanut butter & jam sandwiches. The ventilation system would later be sealed to prevent easy access (alas!), and the furnace would be replaced with a modern unit no longer appropriate for cooking sandwiches in, but students continued coming and the types of mischief they got into evolved with the changing times.
A gymnasium was added to Satinwood in the 1970's and a portable classroom was added in 1991. It was modernized with computers, ensuring my children would be computer literate despite not living in a city, as soon as the early Apple desktops became available. When the age of the Internet dawned, it was again modernized to make sure its students kept technological pace with the rest of the world. Satinwood's administrators refused to cut corners or accept a situation where students might fall behind anyone who went to a bigger and busier school. My mother began working at the school in the 1970s as both secretary and librarian, and enjoyed many years of working with staff, parents and the students. The library was her true love.
Even the best stories have to have their final chapters, however, and Satinwood saw hers in 2014 - having provided 57 stalwart years of high quality education and community for central Alberta, the school's enrollment figure had dwindled over time to a low of just 38 pupils. The per-capita cost of giving those kids a high quality education at Satinwood was $14,000.00 per year (nearly twice the average for the division). This was an untenable and unreasonable cost burden; over the objections of parents and teachers, Wolf Creek's board tearfully voted to have the school closed at the end of the 2014 school year. Mom worked at the school for over 20 years, retiring as a part time dedicated librarian.
Gone but hardly forgotten, this yarn line is my tribute to a place that was fundamental to both my childhood and early parenting as well as all of the hard working teachers and staff who made it so special.