Balfour Collegiate: 85 years of excellence!

Balfour Collegiate: 85 years of excellence!

On Friday, May 29, 2015, Balfour celebrated its 85 years of excellence.  Alumni, past and present staff, students and community members participated in this special celebration.  This event began in the Mrs. Butterworth Auditorium at the front of the school.  Old yearbooks and memorabilia were displayed for viewing.

See the CBC Saskatchewan story about the event

 

BALFOUR:  EIGHTY-FIVE YEARS OF EXCELLENCE

Researched and written by:

Juanita Tuharsky, Megan Ruiter and Mitch Wolfmueller

 

With strong commitments to education, creativity, work ethics, academics and trades, Balfour Collegiate, formally known as Balfour Technical School, is celebrating eighty-five years of excellence.  Throughout these eighty-five years, Balfour has changed and adjusted to advances in education while promoting success and lifelong learning.  The evolution of Balfour took a number of decades, and was influenced by changes happening in Regina, our province, country and world and what is happening today. 

Strong Beginnings

Balfour’s initial start began with the Wilson & Wilson Firm’s construction of this school in 1929.  “The [school’s] name Balfour Technical School honours Mr. James Balfour one of the original five High School Board trustees who continued to serve for almost twenty years.  At all times he displayed a level, sane attitude toward the two problems of spending ratepayers’ money and extending education to the collegiate students.” At that time, this technical school’s floor space and structure had fire proof construction throughout.  It cost the school board $367,000 to build and $485,000 to furnish. The school officially opened on September 2, 1930, with a student body of approximately 640 students.  Balfour Technical School served as both a technical and a commercial school under the guidance and direction of two principals – Mr. G. Dolan, principal for the technical side and Mr. A. Hodgkins, principal for the commercial side.  Mr. G. Dolan, Balfour Technical School’s first principal served from 1930 to 1940.  He believed in Manual Arts and Vocational education, and he supervised the layout of Balfour.  The second principal, Mr. A. Hodgkins of the Commercial High School was responsible for the subject departments within the school.  He always gave time to give personal accommodations to those meriting special recognition, and pioneered a one year secretarial course, and then retired from Balfour in 1947.

In 1930 Mrs. Butterworth taught at Balfour Technical School (Commercial high school). In 1931 she helped organize the fraternity, Alpha Tau.  It was an honorary fraternity with membership given to all those students who were able to type 80 net words per minute.  Also from 1947 to 1954, Mrs. Butterworth served as the vice-principal of Balfour Technical School. The principal was Mr. Thomas Herbert Cowburn.  In 1959, she was appointed Head of the Typing Division and Head of the Business Education Department and her typing division was the best on the continent. Balfour's auditorium bears her name honouring her today.

The War Years

In 1939, Balfour Technical School had approximately thirteen hundred students attending when war was declared.  Once this happened, under the direction of Mr. A. Hodgkins, adjustments and changes were made to the school’s curricula and classes to accommodate the demands and urgency the war presented.  As a result, a war emergency training program was held in the machine shop and its classes began at 4 p.m. and went until 10 p.m. In the 1940s, Balfour had a cadet corps in the school, and these facilities were used for trades training in the army.  Almost every make student belonged.  In 1946, Balfour had army, navy and air cadets.  During this era, a number of Balfour’s students served and a few returned, but many were killed in action. 

In 1950, a memorial was unveiled in honour of the students who lost their lives in WWII. It is beautifully displayed in the front foyer of the school to remind us of what was sacrificed for the freedom Canadians have today.  A number of Balfour Technical School’s staff also served in this war and some of whom were Mr. A.B. MacKenzie, Mr. B.A. Campbell, Mr. W. Darnell, Mr. W. Hathaway, Mr. C.D. McLean and Mr. E.W. Larrigan. 

After the War

After WWII, Balfour Technical School continued to promote education through its shops and its academics, as well as through the many diverse and varied sports, clubs and campaigns, such as the French club, printing club, machine club, drama club, camera club, public speaking club, dance committee, curling, cheerleading, bowling and weight lifting.  In 1947, the school had also campaign committees, such as the “China Campaign Committee” and they wanted to send aid and raise $1000 for the Kala-Azar fund, and the “Food for Children of Europe Campaign” which also raised $1000 for their cause. 

In the 1948-49 school year, Balfour’s senior boys’ basketball team won the City Collegiate Champs, Southern Saskatchewan Champs and Saskatchewan Champs and its Technical Swimming team won city swim meet, and the Balfour’s senior hockey team won the playoffs.  The Commercial Tech Crooners choir had over 130 students and by 1949 Balfour Technical School’s teaching staff had increased to fifty-nine teachers.   

The Fifties and Sixties

From 1954 to 1962, Mr. George A. Mutch taught at Balfour Technical School, served a vice-principal here as well as one of the principals for this school.  In honour of his contributions and dedication to the school, Mutch Hall is named after him.  During this time, Balfour Technical School had a group called The Collegiate Reporters. They were heard on the radio every second Saturday and on television every Saturday in 1961.  In 1962, Mr. Alexander McKenzie served as one of many of Balfour’s principals and prior to this, he too had taught here and was vice principal at the school and McKenzie square  is named after him. 

The 1970s

In the 1970s, a number of changes and transitions occurred to encapsulate educational and curricular changes bringing the school into the modern world.  To accompany this move into modernization, Erwin Ziolkowski, Balfour’s principal loved to interact with the student body and he was there to help with all of the eminent changes. These changes included: English becoming the only compulsory subject in Division IV, There was also a big change to the semester system, and changes to the student timetables, that had one hour classes on a five day schedule in the beginning.  After trying this, individualized timetables were then introduced and Balfour’s students went to a two day schedule with five one hour classes.  Then in 1973, the art department was enlarged and an area of the school converted drafting to a graphic arts lab.  In 1977, the old graphic arts lab was made it into a plastics lab, and during this time, the cooking lab underwent renovations.

Vocational A students moved sent to Cochrane and Balfour Technical School ended its secretarial program. In 1978, the large electricity lab was split into four rooms with a junior drafting room, a junior woodworking lab, an art room and a junior electricity lab.   Along with all these structural changes, data processing classes were being taught to teach computer literacy and BASIC Language.  The students were not the only ones to experience changes, but so was Balfour’s teaching staff.  The public school board bought a computer to help relieve the teaching staff of routine and repetitive work such as repairing report cards, class lists and attendance cards--a computer named “Conrad”.   Not only was change coming, but modernization was here—here to stay.

Name Change

After these significant changes in the 1970s, a name change was coming to Balfour Technical School.  Under the direction of the principal, Mr. Mike Badham, Balfour’s formal name would change.   And as stated in Mr. Badham’s final address in the yearbook to the graduates, he wrote, The 1983 graduates will be the last class to obtain a diploma inscribed BALFOUR TECHNICAL SCHOOL.  We shall now become known as Balfour Collegiate … we are the champions!   This was then reiterated by the vice-principal, Mr. E. Dietrich that Balfour was a “School of Champions”.   During this time, Balfour’s famous “Seniors Night” was first introduced as part of a class by Mrs. Robillard. It was a way to teach students to give back to the community and make connections to some of Regina’s seniors. 

With the help of a partnership with SaskPower, Mrs. Robillard was instrumental in planning and executing student exchange trips to Sandy Bay, Saskatchewan. Balfour Collegiate students then hosted the Sandy Bay students.  It was their first time that the northern students had been in an urban centre.  This was very innovative and contemporary for its time, as Native Studies was just being introduced by the Ministry of Education and taught in Saskatchewan schools. 

As time went on, Balfour Collegiate continued to excel, to create new ideas and promote innovation at the school.  Their sports teams like boys’ soccer, basketball and girls’ baseball continued to prove they were the best in the city and in the province.  For example, the boys’ soccer team won provincials in 1988, and continued winning city championships for several years; and in 1990 Balfour’s basketball team were also city champions.  It was during this time that clubs and campaigns like “Bits and Bytes” and “Foot Power” emerged.  These were two innovative projects where Balfour students wanted to build their own computer and they wanted they preserve the atmosphere by having students drive less and walk more, bike more or rollerblade to and from school to help combat climate change. 

Diversity

Diversity was always a part of Balfour and in 1996 students spent hours with the seniors at the Qu’Appelle House teaching origami, dance and having conversations with the seniors. Balfour Collegiate also had the honour of hosting delegates from China come and learn here. This strong sense of diversity and relationship continues today through our Diversity Week celebrations. Balfour also has a strong presence in the arts and academics and this has been evident with the performances of The Princess and the Pea and the Wizard of Oz and the Advanced Placement programming.

Balfour Special Tutorial

Under the direction of a former principal of Balfour, Alex B. Mackenzie convinced the Regina Board of Education and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education that a class be established at Balfour to meet the needs of young teen moms. His mission was to provide continuity of education for young pregnant teens who simply could not continue attending regular classes. In September of 1972 the Balfour Special Tutorial School began.  It was headed by teachers like Mrs. Shirley Schneider and Mrs. Sally Ford.  Since its humble beginnings, this program has expanded and more than 3,400 young student mothers have received an education.  Along with this special school and programming, day care and infant care centres were created and opened in 1986 and 2012, respectively to accommodate these young teen moms and their children. These two centres offer 24 infant care spots and 15 toddler spots today.  The Balfour Special Tutorial School was renamed the Shirley Schneider Support Centre (SSSC) in 2011 and today, the Mackenzie Infant Care Centre honours Mr. Alex Mackenzie, a former principal of Balfour who had the vision and determination to implement this vision.  Many of the students who have attended this program believe in Mr. Mackenzie’s dream--education is the key, and those who have attended say and believe that Balfour and the Shirley Schneider Support Center has provided them with an education along with strength, comfort, belonging and love.  It is the longest continuously operating educational center of its kind in Canada.

As many past alumni and staff have said, “Education is the key”, “we are champions”, an “opportunity school where we train them in the art of citizenship, the humanities and the tasks of earning a living in the rapidly changing world.”  Not only is Balfour Collegiate steeped in tradition and valuing education, students and staff, but it is also a place of change, a place where responsible  citizens and lifelong learners are created—a place where education and champions are made.  Champions, such as Rory Allen (performer), Henry Ripplinger (artist, author), Tom Sheppard (Former CEO of the Saskatchewan Roughriders) John Lipp (city councillor), Susan Parker (Miss Teen Regina), Joanne Baird (Miss Saskatchewan Roughrider), and T.H. Cowburn and Larry Schneider (Mayors of Regina) to name a few. 

After 85 years of excellence, Balfour Collegiate continues to be a place of change and innovation most recently it has changed the name of its mascot to the Balfour Bears, starting in the 2015-16 school year. This will add to the school’s rich history and will continue to demonstrate that it is a place where all students, parents and community will continue to be honoured and will be proud to be a part of Balfour’s family, team and ongoing history!  

NOTE:  the Balfour Communication Committee apologizes in advance for any errors or omissions in the typed information provided.