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Westmount School
Inspiring Learning

We Are WESTMOUNT

May 04, 2020

​We are westmount pic.pngTaanishi Westmount Community,

I wanted to take this time to share a few things with you that I was fortunate to come across while combing through our archives collection. I hope it will provide a bit of perspective during this time, but also a few lessons that we can take away about the history, resilience, adaptation and responsiveness of our school.

We have often heard that we are in unprecedented times, and for the majority of our population, that is the case. However, this is not the first time our society has been faced with unimaginable hardships that threatened local and global safety. In fact, Westmount School has endured many unanticipated challenges over its well-preserved history of 107 years, yet our school community, including students, parents and staff, have always found a way to not only persevere but also to be flexible, adapt in light of both challenges and opportunities to improve the way in which we serve our community and to be responsive to their needs.

Westmount School first opened its doors near the end of the school year on the 3rd of April in 1913 with 5
classrooms, to lessen crowding at Alexandra and Caswell schools. However, as a result of the local chicken pox
epidemic in December of the following school year, the School Medical Inspector recommended changes to
interior mouldings, which were considered "dust collectors and unsanitary." The changes were made and classes
continued.

A few years later Westmount closed its doors on the 17th of October 1918, due to the Spanish flu, reportedly
affecting seven out of each classroom, over 167 across the city and around 5,000 lives throughout the province. They
doors remained closed until the government opened up most everything in the province, almost overnight in
early December, although the flu would continue to affect people well into 1920.

The following year in 1919 Westmount would be among the first in the city to offer departmental teaching along
with Buena Vista. This was a departure from the customary homeroom model that was prevalent at the time,
where one teacher taught all subjects with the change toward department specialists, which aimed to provide
richer learning across the curricula. However, part way through the year, our school suffered several building and
maintenance related issues, and by the third time with roof failures due poor lath and plaster, our school closed
part way through the year to address the problems, only to later re-open.

Then came the Second World War between 1939 and 1945. At this time, Westmount students and staff
relocated their classes to both Caswell and Princess Alexandra, to make way for students from Bedford Road
Collegiate to take up residence at Westmount, as the collegiate was being used for basic training for the Royal
Canadian Air Force.

A few short years later, at the advice of the City Medical Health Officer, Saskatoon school boards delayed school
opening until September 15, 1952 as a result of the poliomyelitis epidemic, more commonly known as polio,
that swept through the province in the early '50s. Although it wasn’t until 1952 that the school closed as a result
of this disease, it plagued people across our country, young people in particular from the 1930s and would
persist into the '60s, several years after the first vaccine was created.

It is now 2020, and the events of 1952 and all those before are beyond the collective memory of many people in
our community. However, throughout these prior challenges, the best thing we’ve done was follow the guidance
laid out before us from the medical authorities. We also adjusted our practices and demonstrated flexibility as
educators in order to respond to the changing realities of our community. We will continue that long tradition of
pivoting and adapting to continue to meet the needs of our community and students. Perhaps, now more than
ever, we are better situated to support our students by taking advantage of technology. We are working with
many partners, both in and out of our school system, providing support for our families to navigate the
unforeseen challenges that have emerged as a result of this pandemic.

We do this because Westmount starts with WE.


WE believe ALL children can succeed.
WE believe diversity is a strength and our differences are valued.
WE believe everyone deserves dignity, kindness and respect.
WE believe in respecting ourselves, others and our learning spaces.
WE believe in building a strong community environment that is inclusive of families.
WE are Westmount.