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Oakwood school 1969 fixedLooking back on material from the early days of Oakwood Public School is like finding a time capsule unearthed after sixty years.

(This article was written by WRRA Board Member Sandy Moshenko, whose family grew up in and around West River.)

Looking back on material from the early days of Oakwood Public School is like finding a time capsule unearthed after sixty years.

The official opening of Oakwood School was on Tuesday, March 3, 1953. It was built in response to the rapid development in the neighbourhood known as the Forster subdivision, or Forster's Bush to the locals. Between 1950 and 1959, the population of Oakville soared from just over 12,000 to 35,600, an almost 300% increase. The school accommodated students from kindergarten to grade eight in fourteen classrooms. By 1954 an east wing containing seven additional classrooms was built. Up until the sixties, students from other area schools were transported to Oakwood to study home economics and shop.

Oakwood school 1969 fixedOakwood Public School circa 1969

When it opened, W.L. Fulford was the principal of Oakwood. By 1955 he had been replaced by Alex Balfour, who continued in that role until 1966. He lived on Kingswood Rd. until his passing in 1997.

An examination of the Oakwood Omnibus, a student- produced yearbook published in the early days of the school, provides clear examples of how students and families in the community related to the school, the education provided there, and its interaction with the surrounding neighbourhood. There are accounts of school projects, field trips, sporting events and assemblies that would not seem out of place in today's school curriculum.

There is also a significant profile given to the arts and language with a newly introduced "conversational French" program in 1959. Music played a large role in the curriculum with Mr. Melbourne Evans, who lived on River Side Drive for many years, serving as the coordinator and instructor of music.

Innovations introduced to the school include, in the 1955 school year, a polio vaccination program, and in 1959, the installation of a Public Address (PA) system, eliminating the need for students to deliver notes from "the Office" to the classroom. By today's standards the school was large, with almost 50 grade eight graduates a year during the 50's, and community events had significant representation from Oakwood.

Bicycle rodeo 1950s fixedBicycle Rodeo and Safety Parade circa 1950s

The school community was actively involved in making West River a better place to live. The annual Bicycle Rodeo and Safety Parade sported a delegation of 250 students from Oakwood, the largest of all local schools. Its participation in the annual music festival and carol service was extraordinary, with 80 students in the Junior Choir alone. As this brief history shows, Oakwood School has served as a focus for community activity and a mainstay in the neighbourhood for sixty years.