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Queen Elizabeth became the main school for students in Picton

The Picton Times camera went to school early to record the pleasant facial expressions of public school children waiting for the nine o’clock bell. They were all pleased with the new “Elizabeth” school. – Newspaper clipping photo courtesy Joan Benton whose mom saved it because Joan’s sister Judy Smith is standing on the stairs. Their father ran the Hi Spot across from PECI.

Plans and registrations for the June 8 reunion for Pinecrest and Queen Elizabeth schools are under way. See details below.

The year 1968 marked the end of the Picton Public School Board after more than a 100 years.

Chairman W.W. Evans noted in a 1968 commemorative Picton Public Schools yearbook, that a new County Board will assume educational policy.

“Naturally, it is regrettable when long-established institutions are replaced but this 1967-8 board is proud of what we have been able to plan and bring to reality during this last year – the fine new addition to Queen Elizabeth Public School… that will serve the community well for many years.”

Queen Elizabeth School was built in 1953-54 on the site of the old Picton Collegiate that burned to the ground in May, 1952. As the population of students increased, Queen Elizabeth became the main school for children in Picton.

Principal Carl Reid stated both the Mary Street and York Street schools would be closed permanently at the end of June.

“These old buildings have provided the educational setting for literally thousands of boys and girls. Hundreds of teachers, may with names long forgotten, have shepherded and corrected and inspired pupils in the old classrooms over half-a-dozen generations.

“As we write, the vibrant sound of construction drifts in through the open office windows and we can envision the fine, new accommodation for increased educational opportunity going up at Queen Elizabeth. In September, all of our boys and girls, all our teachers, will be in one location.”

Ann Walmsley, based on an interview with Miss Mary Dunkley, shared recollections of Mary Street School, erected in 1871, with an addition built in 1930. Walmsley notes the janitors lived in the school and were given three small rooms in the basement.

“There wasn’t a very large playground because most of it was taken up by 50 cords of wood which was used to heat the school,” she said. A pump at the far end was used by the children to acquire their water. In the nicer weather, flowers and vegetables were grown and the children took the products home.

Walmsley notes a piano was often moved into the hall and Miss Mary Dunkley would ‘give the kids a big kick’ when she played it there and sang.

“Every month there was a complete set of examinations and they were said to be extremely difficult.”

The Picton Public Schools yearbook noted a small stone school house was built on the site where York Street School now stood. It had one storey, and one room, which held about 25 children ages six to 14. The first teacher was Mrs Ackerman. In 1893 the teacher was Miss Jessie Redman. In 1907 the school was torn down and replaced by the double storey red-brick building.

Faculty 1967-68
Back row Angela Hall, Dorothy Lockyer, Myron Porter, James LeBreton, Jack Laundry, Andrew Benvie, James Bird, Wallace Dever, Grace Buchanan. Middle: Carl Reid, Helen Weeks, Bernice Thompson, Vera Valleau, Marion Church, Kathy Camp, Helen Nelson, Kathy Galt, Sheila O’Grady, Marjorie Noron, Earl Holt. Front: Mary Lake, Patricia Bettes, Eileen McCalpin, Jean Brandon, Diane Aquino, Verna Pixley, Margaret Haight, Marilyn Dean, Carol Carver, Betty Ostrander. Absent: Alice Webb.

From the 1973-74 Queen Elizabeth School yearbook, these were ‘open concept’ classes that mixed students from Grades 5 to 8 in one homeroom before they travelled to their grade’s regular classes:

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