By Kathy McGrath 

Brian Bartlett, Charlottetown’s longest-serving teacher, keeps a picture in his desk of every Grade 6 class he has taught over the past 20 years. Each class and each student evokes special memories for him.

“It’s customary for teachers to move around in their careers,” he said, “but when you find a connection like I’ve found here, it becomes your second home. Why would you leave something you love?” He remembers feeling that connection when he first arrived as a young teacher.

On May 5, Charlottetown Junior Public School will open its doors and showcase this special community as part of it 50th anniversary celebrations. The open house will have photo displays, refreshments and opportunities for students, teachers and their families to reconnect.

“We are very excited about opening a time capsule that has been in a mounted display case for 25 years,” says principal Peter Sellenkowitsch. “I got a call the other day from a former student who wrote one of the letters contained in it — he wants to be here when we open it.” Staff and students will dedicate a new time capsule for future generations to enjoy.

When asked how education has changed over the past 50 years, Mr. Sellenkowitsch cites two things in particular. First, the Ontario curriculum has become more standardized to ensure greater consistency in teaching and assessment methods across the province.

Second, new technologies have revolutionized how academics are taught. “We have Wi-Fi throughout the building, and interactive whiteboards have pretty much replaced blackboards,” he explains. “Students can tap on them to make things move around and call things up.” As early as Grade 1, students are using tablets to learn to read, while the junior students use more laptops.

“The technology is an effective way to teach basics like literacy, math and science,” explains Mr. Sellenkowitsch.

Besides academics, the school, which currently serves 420 students from junior kindergarten to Grade 6, excels at extracurricular activities like cross country, dramatic arts, band and strings.

Giving back to the community has been an important tradition for Charlottetown students. As far back as 1976 the school raised more than $2,000 to help Guatemala rebuild after an earthquake. Today, the school supports local and international charities like the Scarborough Centre for Community Living, Free the Children, Me to We and the Terry Fox Foundation.

The school’s annual Terry Fox Run includes a fundraiser for the Hospital For Sick Children in honour of former student Liane Forrester who passed away in 2003.