Wildwood School / James Thomson Elementary
In the early days Wildwood children walked to Powell River where they attended Henderson School. crossing the river in row boats before the bridge was built in 1916. Because the four-room Henderson School was filled to capacity, the Wildwood children were given a classroom in the basement. When the parents objected, the Powell River Company suggested they form a school district of their own and build a school. Mrs. Jacob Andersen called a meeting at her home and Herb Thomson, Frank Smith and George Beattie were elected the first School trustees. The one room school was ready for classes in early 1923. The first School register is dated to March 1923 and lists 24 school age children. Miss F. Lynch was the first teacher at the school and taught grades one through six. In 1924, when it was necessary to have another class room, a lean-to was added to the back of the building.
By 1931, when the population required four rooms, the original school building was sold and a modern school was erected named the James Thomson School, honoring one of Wildwood's grand old pioneers, who camped on the Vancouver courthouse steps for more than a month to ensure he claimed one of the 13 pre-emptions in Wildwood offered in 1914. Classrooms were subsequently installed in the basement of the raised building and, in 1955, to alleviate overcrowding, a new modern addition to the school was built with two class rooms, a large activity room, teachers' rooms and other facilities. The addition augmented the school and was designed so that the structure could grow with the demands of the population. A two room addition was completed in 1958.
The student population reached a peak in 1990, with approximately 375 students enrolled in Grade K through 7. The present enrolment is approximately 290 students. In 1986, with the assistance of the Tla'amin Nation, an afternoon language enrichment class was begun at Tla'amin for Kindergarten students. First Nations language instruction and culture are vital components of the programming at James Thomson and the school is unique for its inclusion of elementary Kla ah men language instruction for their students. Annual legacy projects strengthens the connection to the Tla'amin Nation.
In 2010, James Thomson welcomed its first French Immersion students to the school with a Kindergarten/Gr.1 class. This program grew to span Grades K through 7 in the 2016-2017 school year; offering instruction to students in either French or English throughout their years at the school. James Thomson is the only elementary school in the District that is a trilingual school.
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