History of North Otter Elementary Shool

 

North Otter

North Otter Elementary is situated in the heart of a small mixed f arming community at 5370 - 248 Street. The school was first built in 1934 on Roberts Road and was called County Line School. When a new County Line Elementary School was opened in February, 1948, the students from the North Otter area were taken to and from this school in a boxy orange International school bus with wooden seats, affectionately dubbed "the Cheese Box," according to Art Hoock. In September, 1948, it became apparent that County Line could not hold all the students. Around November, North Otter area grades 4-6 students (taught by Mrs. Anne Hoock) and the grade 7 class (taught by Miss Neufeld) moved back to the old County Line School, which was renamed Roberts Road School. It had been wired with electric lights but still had outdoor washrooms. 

Workers, meanwhile, prepared foundations on 248 for the three classrooms that were to be moved at the end of the school year. In addition, a new full-length flat roof section was constructed to later join with the three old classrooms. This included a hallway, staff room, washrooms, a furnace room, and covered play area at each end. In September, 1949, the old school was moved to Otter Road and renamed North Otter Elementary. The centre room was used as an activity room the first year, with Anne Hoock and Principal Leo Murray in the other two classrooms. Students between Robertson Crescent and the end of the road north of 56 Avenue were bussed to the North Otter School. The school grounds provided ample room for a variety of activities, with a large field east of the school and a bush area with rolling humps and dips on the south side. 

The school organized a PTA in 1950 with Mrs. Flowerdew as the first president. They provided funds for scholarships and athletic crests, Christmas treats, and treats and assistance every Sports Day. In 1963, they allocated $25 towards indoor rainy weather games for school use and bought an Inter-House plaque and frames for school pictures. 

In 1962, a senior classroom was added and the classes went on shifts. In 1963 a portable classroom was moved onto the school ground to provide the extra room required. 

By 1963, the school was well-equipped with educational audio and visual devices and facilities. There was an all-school choir under the direction of Mrs. H. Brown, a school band under Mr. R. Featherstonhaugh, and individual piano lessons given by Mrs. Smith. Inter-house sports and games competitions were organized between the two houses, the Hawks and the Eagles. 

About 12:15 am on Friday, December 13,1963, a local resident, Willie Gerber, was on his way home when he noticed smoke coming from the North Otter School. He roused the proprietors of Warkentin's store, who turned in the alarm. By the time the Aldergrove and central Langley fire departments arrived, each being about 5 miles away, the school was completely engulfed in flames. Only the portable classroom was saved. By Monday morning, four classrooms on the upper east end of Langley High School had been roped off, and the North Otter students were bussed there until their new school could be built. 

The new school was built with all the modern techniques and was added onto over the next years. By 1983 the school had 13 classrooms, plus a library and a gymnasium. North Otter's staff totalled 17 and there were 337 students in grades K to 7. The school also had 18 pupils in two special classes. The catchment area for the school had been widened when they began to bus intermediate students to North Otter from as far away as the South Otter area. The school's population in 2004 is 303. 

North Otter Reort 1969

See the story of Otter Elementary for the origin of the name. 


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