Valley Voices: Avola School closes 30 years ago

A census reported in 1981 showed 100 adults and 62 children living in Avola. Today there are no children in the community

Youngsters at Avola School sing “This Little Light of Mine

Youngsters at Avola School sing “This Little Light of Mine

Eleanor Deckert

Preserved on pink paper, typed in purple ink, reproduced on the ditto machine, the Tiny Timber News written, edited and published by the Avola Elementary School students, gives us a glimpse of the vibrant life of the residents of the tiny town of Avola during two school years: 1981-82 and 1982-83.

The entire calendar springs to life – New Years Eve, Valentines Box Social, fund raisers, Easter Egg hunt, Mother’s Day luncheon, baseball, Back-to-School, Terry Fox Run, World Food Day 24-hour Fast, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas Concert, Nativity Scene, carolling – the Tiny Timber News reporters describe it all (with the help of teachers Jane Olsen and Carl Capps).

Tiny Timber News, Oct. 16, 1981: Town Census – adult males 51, adult females 49, total 100. Male children 34, female children 33, total 62. Animals (too many to count). Vehicles – cars 44, pick up trucks 67, heavy equipment 43. Work– unemployed 2, retired 2, self employed 15, work for a company 38

Tiny Timber News, Nov. 10, 1982: School Board meeting in Clearwater

A delegation from Avola expressed the parents concerns against closing the Avola school or moving the children to other schools.

The Board was presented with 13 options … a motion was passed to send the Avola Grades 4-7 to Vavenby by Jan. 1 … Our elected trustee voted for the motion and against the wishes of the community!

Our children will be riding a school bus 100 km per day, in the worst weather conditions of the year, alienated from their own school, into a community that is not known to them and ending the day with an 80 minute wait for the bus to return home.

Avola Parents Committee

Tiny Timber News, March 31, 1983: School Board Meets in Avola

On Monday, March 28, 1983, the School Board held a public meeting in Avola.

The delegation from Avola felt that the Board hadn’t acted in the best interest for the people and students of Avola. The board said they had done everything in their power to keep the schools open. They said the decision is Vanderzalm’s whether the Avola and Birch Island schools close or stay open. The Board feels very optimistic that they will receive the extra money needed.

The delegation learned that it would cost 60c per mile for the bus and $14.26 per hour for the bus driver. Approximately $24,000 could be saved by laying off one teacher, with K-5 in Avola with one teacher and sending Grades 6-7 to Raft River.

The delegation felt that if the school shut down completely, it would never open again. The Board claimed they would re-open it when the funds were made available.

Tiny Timber News, June 29, 1983: All of us know that Avola Elementary will have only K-4 next year. The 5-7 students will bus to Raft River and I will be teaching English at the high school.

Let us hope that economic times become better for Avola and that our population grows again to the point that the school re-opens.

Mr. Carl Capps, Principal

Tiny Timber News, Nov. 10, 1982: How the students feel:

Avola snowman“I wouldn’t like to go to another school because it is a long ride and you can’t know many children and you can’t go home for lunch and if you get sick you can’t go home and you might sleep in. You might get bus sick and that wouldn’t be fun and you might puke all over.” Karrie Taylor

“I would miss my Mom.” Kari Johnson

“The bus might crash. I might get hurt. There might be a fire.” David Johnson

“I have been here for years and I don’t want to go to another school.” Trina Buis

“You would get home later. You will miss your family.” Cheryl Taylor

“You won’t get to see your mother. You have to stay in and do your homework until the bus comes to take you back home.” Damon Paquette

“I would probably get pushed on to the aisle if you sit in a highschoolers seat.” Travis Tucker

“You might get in a fight on the bus.”      Pat Lorenzen

“I don’t know them. And I don’t like them calling Avola names. I don’t like that. It is not nice.” Scott Thomas

“You might get beat up. What if you got homesick or hurt? If you miss your bus or have an accident no one could help us get home.” Ricky Williams

“The bus might break down and you might have to walk the rest of the way. “ Darryl Todd

“It would be cold.” Tammi Taylor

“I do not want my Mom to lose her job.” Kim Thomas

“I would miss my sister. My mom said today that I can’t go to Vavenby School.” Leona Tychkowsky

“I wouldn’t get to go home at lunch. I would miss my Mom and Dad.”                  Bonnie Paquette

“I’d miss the town.” Martin Buis

1984: The school did close. In fact. the building is gone today (2013). Families left. Some homeschooled. After school activities were no longer viable. The library closed.

Holidays celebrated at school in another town deprived preschoolers and seniors of the fun.

The Avola Christmas Concert survived for awhile. But recently the last Avola child graduated from Clearwater Secondary School and left.

Eventually, even Santa stopped coming to Avola.

To be continued: