Current and former students and staff enjoyed a walk down memory lane at Wellesley Public School last Saturday afternoon.

The walk was both literal and figurative as the halls of Wellesley PS were lined with photos and memorabilia in celebration of the school’s 50th anniversary at its current location.

The Wellesley Community Centre donated the display cases for the event which held the artifacts on display in the school’s library. The cases were built with the rink boards from the old arena.

Principal Brian Morgan went over a bit of trivia with those in attendance, before welcoming the school choir to sing two songs and local politicians to offer their congratulatory messages, followed by cake.

“[There have been] a lot of changes over the last 50 years. For example, do you know we’ve grown from a small school of 250 students in 1967 to one of the largest schools in the Waterloo Regional District School Board now with almost 750 students? From nine classes to 32 classes?” Morgan said.

Wellesley Public School has not always been in its current location, nor had its current name. Now a local daycare, Inspiring Minds, the building was once Wellesley School, built in 1855. The Wellesley Library, on the same street as the daycare, was also once the school building, constructed in 1898.

“But it was in 1966-1967 that the current school was built to replace five much smaller schools in the region. At that time it was known as Wellesley District Public School and today we’re just known simply as the amazing Wellesley Public School,” Morgan said.

Many former teachers and students attended the anniversary celebration, including the school’s first principal, Steve Campbell’s wife Doris Michalik and daughter Lisa, who is now a principal herself in Cambridge.

All of the speakers thanked the organizing committee for all their efforts in putting together the 50th anniversary celebration.

“We’re very fortunate to have such dedicated individuals caring for our young people,” said Waterloo Region District School Board chair Scott McMillan.

Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris noted the importance of rural schools like Wellesley PS, which act as a community hub.

Visitors to Wellesley Public School’s 50th anniversary celebration enjoyed some music from the school choir, as well as perusing historical photos and artifacts from the school. Wellesley mayor Joe Nowak presented the school’s principal Brian Morgan with a plaque to commemorate the occasion. The cake was cut by Nolan Turner, currently one of the school’s youngest students, along with Evelyn Cook who was in the school’s first Grade 4 Class and is now an educational assistant at Wellesley PS, and Holly Corman, one of the students in the first Kindergarten class, who is now a principal with the school board. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]

“I want to commend the participation in the community. I think it’s one of the only schools in the region at least in the past that have taken the entire day off of school or have allowed students to participate in the agricultural fair and I think that’s so important for students,” Harris said.

Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht explained he has spent a good deal of time in the school, including as a trustee from 1978-82.

“I’ve been to a number of schools, it’s not often you see the kind of parental involvement, whether it’s an event like this or other times I’ve been here at Wellesley. … I’ve been in this school many times and to see the growth and the enthusiasm that’s here is incredible,” Albrecht said.

Wellesley Mayor Joe Nowak noted he has fond memories of the school as both of his daughters received the Citizenship Award when they graduated.

“I thank Wellesley Public School for those precious memories. And I want to thank the teachers and the staff that have worked here over the last 25 years,” Nowak said.

Vice-principal Andy Beddoe thanked Morgan for his leadership over the past four years, as this was his last week at Wellesley PS.

“It’s the strong bonds formed over the years that make Wellesley Public School such a special place. What a treat it is and has been watching their reactions as they see themselves in pictures, as they reconnect with old friends, as they remember those near and dear to our hearts,” Beddoe said.