Galbraith School turns 100 years old and it has educated thousands of children and spooked a few since it opened its doors in February 1913.
One of the first things Teresa Loewen, current principal, heard when she joined the school staff last August was that the school's third-floor attic is haunted.
"I've never seen the ghost but they do tell tales of interesting things that happen. One night I was up there and I was sure that I turned off all the lights. I came back down - I was working in the evening - and the custodian came in and said 'You left the lights on in the attic' and I know that I hadn't. I don't know, maybe someone else went up in the attic without me knowing but the attic lights were back on. I don't know if I believe it or not but the rumour's out there and it's just kind of fun if nothing else," Loewen said.
Other reports of ghostly goings-on include the elevator working fine going up to the third floor but refusing to work going down. Belinda Crowson, museum educator at the Galt Museum, has also heard some tales from students.
"Don't go into the basement, especially the basement bathroom, because that's where they say the ghost lives. The teachers have to constantly reassure students that they'll be safe. Two young girls reported that they'd seen a boy standing in the girls' bathroom but he'd disappeared right in front of them. I was told that by a teacher and she said the students who told were ones that you believe when they tell you stuff," Crowson said.
Other students have reported hearing strange noises and Crowson wonders if some of the tales are the product of a rich imagination or embellishment.
"That's always a difficulty when it's a ghost in a school. You can imagine how stories get moved around between kids," Crowson said.
Along with the fun that a few ghost stories can provide, Galbraith can lay claim to having the first woman principal in Lethbridge, and perhaps southern Alberta. According to information compiled by the Centennial Committee for the Recognition of Women, Alice Birch taught in Lethbridge School District 51 from 1911-37. When Galbraith principal Frederick Phillips joined the army in 1915 Birch became acting principal. In 1919, after Phillips had been killed in action, she became principal of Galbraith School.
"I guess she would go out and hit golf balls and the students loved her so much they'd all run out and get the golf balls back for her at lunch time," Crowson said.
Galbraith School was built to accommodate a growing northside population. Back then, the third floor was the school's gymnasium. The school had six classrooms, one each for students from Grades 1 through 6, with a capacity of about 40 students per classroom.
Now surrounded by houses, students in 1913 had to walk a way to get to school. In the 1960s a new wing, with 10 more classrooms and a new gymnasium, was added. The student population is now nearly 440, including those in pre-school, kindergarten and up to Grade 5. After the addition was opened, the third floor was closed. Now called the attic, its space is no longer usable, other than for storage.
"We would love to use that space but it needs great upgrades," Loewen said, adding estimates have pegged the value of the repairs at around $2.5 million.
Several events have been scheduled to help celebrate the school's 100th birthday, including an open house on Friday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and a barn dance that evening for Galbraith staff, students and families.
"We would love to see lots of former students attending our open house, coming in and telling us their stories of what Galbraith has meant to them over the years," Loewen said.