History of the Langley High School

1909 -1924 

In 1909, the first high school class was organized in the Municipality of Langley and was held in rented quarters in Murrayville. From 1911-1918, the classes were held in Belmont Superior School (later Murrayville Elementary), but the school became very overcrowded with both elementary students and high school students in the same building. Finally recognizing the need for a purpose-built facility, the School Board approached the Municipal Council for funding. The request was turned down, and after a money by-law was defeated twice by the voters, the Board resigned. The next Board was more successful, and a local contractor, Owen Hughes, won the job with a low bid of $11,900. 

The School Board found temporary accommodation for the overflow pupils from Murrayville School in the downstairs portion of the Milner Hall and by renting Sharon Presbyterian Church Hall. 


LHS 1924

The new building opened in September, 1924, and served as the Langley High School for 24 years until 1948, as Langley Central Elementary School until 1975, and finally as Langley Central Fundamental Elementary School until February 22,1993, when a fire destroyed the building that had served Langley students for 68 years. 

The school was built on the north side of the only paved section of the Yale Road in Langley, between Langley Prairie and Murrayville. When the school was finally opened on September 9,1924, it was a two-storey building with three rooms on the upper floor for grades 9,10, and 11 (high school in BC was a three-year course then). One of the rooms had a tap and a sink and was known as the science room. There were 58 pupils. 

There was a little room for a principal's office at the back of the top floor, and a hallway that ran the full length of the building, east and west. Downstairs was an entrance hallway with a classroom on each side. 

The first staff consisted of Mr. H. Manzer as principal, with Mr. Shales and Miss Ross as teachers. 

The curriculum consisted of traditional subjects plus agriculture, which Mr. Shales taught. He also taught nature study and elementary science in the 18 elementary schools in the district for half of each school day. This involved the operation of school gardens, the supervision of projects and clubs, the organizing of the annual school fair, and competing in the New Westminster Provincial Fair each year. Speaking of his experiences in Langley, Mr. Shales recalls, "During my last year at Langley High School when it had been decided to discontinue the teaching of agriculture and go classical again, I became a jack of all trades.

The last year of the agriculture sequence was to be taught. In addition, I taught the first year of reinstated Latin, chemistry, English composition, history, and general science.” 

Mr. Shales was also the Secretary of the School Board for seven years and taught the first night school class in Langley, a course in agriculture the year the school opened. 

When the new high school opened, the Board decided not to have an official opening, but changed its mind and held an official opening on Friday, March 13,1925. There were four hundred residents of the municipality present. The music for dancing was supplied by Arnold's Orchestra of Port Kells. 

The first class to graduate from the new high school in June, 1925, consisted of 12 students: Muriel Butchart, Harold Freeman, Roy Graham, Wilfred High, Winnifred Horn, Cecelia Laing, Leslie Moore, Annie Mowat, Telekna Mucklevich, Vesta Parman, Bill Poppy, and Albert Quantz. 

The school did not stay at three classes for long, as the school population grew very quickly. The two basement rooms became grade 9 classrooms, one for the boys and one for the girls. This freed a room upstairs for a grade 12 class in 1931, when high school education in BC was extended to four years, mainly for economic reasons as students had no jobs and nowhere to go. 

The School Board bought the first publically-owned school bus in 1935, with Norman Lee as the first driver. 

The introduction of home economics and manual training in 1934 caused a space problem in the school. This was solved by adding a room on the north side of the building for home economics and by having the manual training classes (under the direction of Mr. H. Vinall) build a free-standing building along the east fence. This structure was referred to somewhat contemptuously as the "chicken coop.” 

The Student Council of 1942-43 introduced a new Langley High School crest and school motto. The motto chosen (and still in use at Langley Secondary) was "Nihil sine opcre," Latin for "Nothing without Effort." J. L. (Pop) Leonard composed a school song during the 40s with the following words. The music is printed in the 1946-47 yearbook. 

"Boys and girls of the Langley High, where the Nicomekl River passes by, Give the Fraser Valley yell, Hi! Yi! Yi! L-A-N-G-L-E-Y. If you come from Honolulu, Cincinnati, or from Rome, from the Coast of California, from Mexico to Nome, there's a little piece of Canada that has the name of home, spelled L-A-N-G-L-E-Y. Boys and girls of the Langley High, where the Nicomekl River passes by, Give the Fraser Valley yell, Hi! Yi! Yi! L-A-N-G-L-E-Y.” 

Over the years other rooms were added to the north side, but the additions could not keep up with the growth in school population. By 1948, the 24-year-old school was accommodating (through the magic of double shifts) 750 students. The morning shift for grades 7, 8, and 9 ran from 8:00 am until 12:31 pm, with six periods of 40 minutes and a 10-minute recess. The afternoon shift for grades 9,10,11, and 12 started at 12:40 pm. 

In its 24 years as a high school, the building had two principals, both of whom became local legends. H.L. Manzer, the first principal, left in December, 1941. He was followed in January, 1942, by R. R. Brunt. Mr. Manzer was a traditionalist whose main concern was to have a good record on the departmental exams. Principals in those days were hired and fired on the basis of exam results, according to Mr. Shales in a letter written years later to N. Sherritt. Mr. Brunt brought new ideas to the community such as student operettas and graduation ceremonies. 

The last class to graduate from the old building was the class of 1948, comprised of 42 students, including Gordon Urquhart whose mother, Winnifred Horn, had been a member of the first graduating class. Their graduation dance was interrupted when all the young men in the class and their male teachers were asked to leave at once to help save the dykes in Glen Valley during the 1948 flood. The young women were left without partners, but many of them later followed to help make sandwiches for the men fighting the flood. (It was all rather futile, however, as the dykes broke at 5:00 a.m. the next morning.) 

LangHigh School Milner
LHS 48

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