The Mennonite community in Greendale, British Columbia felt something needed to be done to teach religious values to their young people and to also ensure the retention of the German language. Early educational efforts included a German school that operated during the winter months for children up to grade six, and a mobile library with 120 German books that travelled throughout the Mennonite communities in Greendale/Sardis, Yarrow, and Aldergrove.
Owing to a concern for a more defined Christian nurture, the Menno High School was started in September 1946 in the Greendale First Mennonite Church. The school operated under the auspices of the Conference of Mennonites in British Columbia. Studies included the British Columbia provincial curriculum, supplemented by courses in the German language, church history and religious subjects. Menno High School never attracted a large student body, with approximately 30-50 students enrolled at its peak. The student catchment areas included Greendale, Chilliwack and Yarrow.
In 1946 the combined grade seven and eight classes numbered 25 students, with Helena Braun as teacher. Braun also taught home economics to the grade ten and eleven female students, while the boys were enrolled in physical education. A very limited student enrollment did not allow extensive extra-curricular activities. However, in 1947 the students performed a German drama called "Die Bildung." The 1948 grade eleven class included only four students.
The school began operations under the leadership of David Heidebrecht. However, he was soon replaced by Rudy Penner, who had been a principal in Saskatchewan. Other teachers included Rudy’s brother Jacob Penner, also of Saskatchewan, and Helena Braun.
With completion of a new church, the old sanctuary was given to the school and in January 1947 moved to Janzen Street. Conveniently, the local roller skating rink served as a gymnasium. Menno High School continued operating until Spring 1948. On 1 June 1948 rapidly rising flood waters forced the closure of the school, with the assumption that after the disaster, classes would continue. However, the devastating flood waters resulted in the destruction of all school records and extensive damage to the buildings, and ultimately, the permanent closure of the school.
Interviews with: Helena Braun (former teacher) - 1 January 2009; Louise Campbell (former student) - 1 January 2009; Siegfried Peters (former student) - 1 January 2009.
Lehn, Cornelia. Frontier Challenge: A Story of the Conference of Mennonites in British Columbia. Clearbrook, BC: Conference of Mennonites in British Columbia, 1990.
Peters, G. I. A History of the First Mennonite Church, Greendale, B.C. Greendale, BC: First Mennonite Church, 1976.
|Date Published||January 2009|
Cite This Article
Giesbrecht, David. "Menno High School (Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 2009. Web. 26 May 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Menno_High_School_(Chilliwack,_British_Columbia,_Canada)&oldid=114386.
Giesbrecht, David. (January 2009). Menno High School (Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 May 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Menno_High_School_(Chilliwack,_British_Columbia,_Canada)&oldid=114386.
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