From the start of the refinery, many employees were men with young families making school a necessity. In 1917, a one-room school was built along the railway among the shacks. It accommodated 17 children grades one to eight. The school was a small, unpainted building without sanitary facilities or water. It is remembered as having “strict discipline and bare furnishings.”
In 1919, the federal government granted a 99-year lease for two acres near Ioco to build a new school. A four-room school was completed by 1923 with classrooms for 100 students, grades one through eleven. Domestic science for girls and manual training for boys were taught in the basement. Students went to the refinery for chemistry and to the community hall for physical education, sports and dancing.
In 1946 School District 43 was established and Ioco School became an elementary school for children grades one to six. Older students went to school in Port Moody. Ioco School served the communities of Ioco, Sunnyside, Anmore, Pleasantside and Alderside, with bus service. Enrolment peaked in 1958 with 179 pupils.
When I finished school, there was about three things at the time that I finished school that a person, a female could do, and that is she’d either go in for teaching, nursing or be a stenographer. So I went in for a stenographer and to get that education I had to travel by bus to Vancouver by the week and back and forth. And I went to Sprott Shaw Business School on Hastings Street then.
“We cheer the dear IOCO a small and friendly school, Oh! See the GOLD and PURPLE, our bright and shining jewel. We work to help its progress, and raise its standards high, HOORAY . . . HOORAY . . . IOCO, We’ll never let you die.” - Composed by Mr. Edmund Benville, Teacher circa 1960
In the later years, they had a “S.H.A.F.T. Program, for teenagers who are having problems. They had the bottom floor, I had the top floor. Now this is only the last couple of years that I was teaching, but they gave me three, they had four rooms on a square with like a hole in the middle, I don’t know if you’ve ever been in the old school but anyway… So I used one room as a quiet room, one room with activities, you know, toys, bricks, all the big stuff. And the other room as a music room and sort of like a little gym, the fourth room, the school board used as storage.
I went down to Ioco for grade six or seven, grade seven it was. I went down there for grade seven. It had four rooms and four teachers down there plus you had manual training, boys came up once a week for wood working and drafting and they had one for the girls for cooking for the first half of the year and the other half was sewing.
The home Economics class was Called “Domestic Science” at the Ioco School.
I began school in 1928 at the age of 7 years. The school consisted of four rooms: one room served Grades 1, 2, and 3; another served Grades 4, 5, and 6 and one served Grades 7 and 8. My teacher in Grades 1, 2, and 3 was Charlotte Wilson. Then I passed to Grade 4, they moved Miss Wilson to room 2, so I had her for a teacher for another three years. In Miss Kneeshaw's room we were marched around the room every morning to Colonel Bogeys March to ”clear the cobwebs from our brains", she said. For our exercise classes, we were marched over a bridge on 1st Avenue to the Hall on 4th Avenue. We all had to wear black bloomers and white tops (I hated them). We were taught badminton after school also in the Hall. The latter was the important room as we wrote government exams in Grade 8. Our teacher, Maude Kneeshaw, would give us extra tutoring as she loved to have some Gold Medal winners and did, many times. Unfortunately, I wasn't one of the smart ones and only came fourth, but still not too bad out of a class of 18 or 20. Each class in the school had at least 18 to 20 pupils. The last room taught Grades 9, 10 and 11. My teacher, Gay Swencisky, was also a good teacher. Latin was her thing. Miss Swencisky was a good badminton player.
Once you were married, you no longer worked. That’s why all the teachers had to be single up until at least 1935.
I went down to Ioco for grade 6 or 7, I can’t remember which it was. I think grade 7 it was. I went down there for grade 7. It had four rooms and four teachers down there. Plus you had training program where the boys came up once a week for woodwork and drafting. And they had one (a class) for the girls for cooking for the first half of the year and the second half was sewing.
The small group attended school in Port Moody until June 1915. A one room building, financed by subscription and built by volunteers, located on the west side of the small area directly South of Ioco townsite. Was opened as Ioco School,
The first teacher was Miss Wilks. Miss Florence Hailey taught for a few semesters (Mrs. Dick Runnels).
Miss Hailey resigned and was replaced with Maud Kneeshaw who taught until her retirement about 1930.
There was a girls and a boys basement in which we played in inclement weather. We lined up down there for the start of school by grade. A gym was built in 1959 and our teacher Mr. Benville made up a song to thank the Coquitlam school district.
The strap was still used and we were in fear of it.
To get the bus home we lined up at the top of the school driveway and when the bus came ran down to the curb yelling bus …bus to try to be the first in line.
The School Song
They talk of other systems in elementary schools,
In America and Britain they have some worthwhile rules,
But in all the greatest systems
There’s none comes anywhere near,
With a towrow, row, row, row, row,
The IOCO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.
We cheer for dear IOCO a small and friendly school,
Oh! See the Gold and Purple, our bright and shining Jewel,
We work to help its progress
And raise its standards high,
We’ll never let you die.
No matter how you view it IOCO has the name
From Vancouver to New Brunswick there’s nothing quite the same.
In each provincial system,
There’s good but not the fame,
For Purple and Gold we have and hold,
Ioco has the name.
School District #43
We give our heartfelt thanks to thee.
We give our heartfelt thanks to thee!
(In 1958/59 Song to thank the School district #43 When the new Gymnasium was completed. Song believed to be composed by teacher Mr. Edmun Benville
Sung to the tune of “British Grenadiers”)