George Harper ran his bus between Aldergrove and Langley High School from 1927 until shifts began in 1947. The route picked students up at 272nd & Fraser Hwy.
Photo Courtesy Langley Centennial Museum
Langley Advance, 25 Oct 1956, p1
Langley Advance, July 25, 1957
Langley Advance, September 19, 1957
In 1947, a new high school was built in Milner at the corner of 56th Avenue and 216th Street. This high school, then called Langley High School, served all students from grades 8-12 in the Langley area, including Aldergrove, stretching as far as Mt. Lehman. Students were bussed to Langley High School from all over the Langley area. The school was not built for such a large number of students and by 1948, students and staff were forced to work in shifts. The morning shift ran from 8:00am-12:30pm and was made up grades three divisions of grade 7s, six divisions of grade 8, and three divisions of grade 9 students. The afternoon shift ran from 1:00pm-5:30pm and was made up of two divisions of grade 9 students, five divisions of grade 10 students, three divisions of grade 11 students, and two divisions of grade 12 students (1). The bus from Aldergrove left at 7am to make the trek to Langley Junior-Senior High School.
Recognizing the need for a high school in the East-Langley area, in 1953, parents, school board officials, teachers, and local politicians came together to ask the province to fund a second building to service the students of Langley. The referendum was defeated twice by voters--in 1954 and again in 1955. Various areas were suggested to host the potential new school with many families wanting the school to be built in the Otter area (now Fraser Hwy & 232nd Street). The school would service the areas from the Langley Hospital at 222nd and Fraser Hwy all the way to Matsqui and from the US border to the Fraser River. Finally, in 1956 the referendum passed and province approved the funding of a new state-of-the-art high school in the Aldergrove region at a cost of $1.1m. A section of farmland was secured on Boundy Road (now 29th Ave) close to County Line Road (now 264th) in Aldergrove at a cost of $800/acre. Busses could make the trek from all areas of Aldergrove as well as the Eastern part of Langley.
Ground was broken on the new site of Aldergrove High School in 1956 and the first area to begin to take shape was the stage surround in the gymnasium (what is now called the Dramnasium).
(1) Langley Advance, 24 July 1947
The Early Years (pre 1957)
Construction Begins 1957
The classroom wing (North Wing) was built next, followed by the office areas around the western side of the gymnasium and the industrial education classrooms on the eastern side.
Photos above and left show the stage surround and gymnasium/theatre being constructed. Photos courtesy of Barbara J. Winter, daughter of first Vice Principal Roger C. Winter
(current library entrance)
(old gymnasium & auditorium)
Art Wing entrance
Industrial Ed wing, woodworking door (access to current garden), and side of current photography room (shown in white on right side of photo). Photo above and below from ACSS school collection c.early 1958
Photo above showing exterior hallway wall of theatre/gymnasium. Photo courtesy of Barbara J. Winter, daughter of Roger C. Winter, first Vice Principal
Langley Advance May 8, 1958
Photo (left) showing west side of school including staff room and administration offices under construction in early 1958. The white structure at the right of the photo is the upper wall and roof of the gymnasium/auditorium. Photo courtesy of Barbara J. Winter, daughter of Roger C. Winter, first Vice Principal
Photo (right) showing main entrance to school (current library entrance) and west side of North Wing classrooms under construction in early 1958. The second story Science Wing was added in the late 1970s. Photo courtesy of Barbara J. Winter, daughter of Roger C. Winter, first Vice Principal.
Photo (left) shows east side of North Wing classrooms and current art wing entrance under construction in early 1958. The checkerboard structure at the end of North Wing is a stairwell that allowed natural light in through glass blocks. The stairwell still exists, but the walls have been closed in. Photo courtesy of Barbara J. Winter, daughter of Roger C. Winter, first Vice Principal.
Photo (above) shows completed and occupied school sometime after May 1958 (possibly early 1959 or 1960 judging by trees and vehicles). Boundy Road (later renamed to 29th Ave) runs west to east in front of the school.
Opening May 12 1958
The school was scheduled to open in February but delays in construction pushed the move to the new school to the beginning of May. The official opening was May 12, 1958 and was attended by the Minister of Education, the faculty of Aldergrove High School, and approximately 1200 people vying to see the new school.
Aldergrove Junior-Senior High School was considered groundbreaking for its time. The school was the first in the province to use Shelvaduct gas heating in which each room was separately heated. Each room had an individual gas heater that drew air in from the outside and distributed it into the room through vents behind the shelving (still present, though boarded up, in most North Wing classrooms). Above the classroom doors were louvres that would allow the warm air from the classrooms to heat the hallways. The science classrooms on the top floor of North Wing were equipped with gas lines for experiments. The home ec classrooms were state-of-the-art and equipped with electric stoves each with four burners on top that allowed students the ability to learn in an actual kitchen. The Industrial Education classes had top of the line hand and power tools for wood and metal working.
Langley Advance May 8, 1958
The cafeteria was large with natural lighting coming in from the south and west. The school was also equipped with a spacious staffroom, indoor plumbing in the washrooms, and a large gymnasium that doubled as a auditorium with a stage and roll-away bleachers for assemblies. The hallways were wide and spacious, the stairwells were lit with natural light through glass blocks in the cement façade, and the school office was open and airy with many windows looking out onto the western forested area. Nestled in the centre of the school was the library that looked onto a small treed courtyard that students and staff could access. The courtyard was accessible from the cafeteria as well. The classroom and hallway walls were brightly painted with modern colours for 1958. The school was a marvel and a source of pride for the district. Upon opening its doors, Aldergrove High School welcomed 520 students from grades 8 through 12 and also hosted 24 teaching staff, 2 secretaries, a janitor, and two administrators.
One of the unique features of Aldergrove Junior-Senior High School was the inclusion of indigenous students from the Nass, Skeena, Bella Bella, Bella Coola, and Haida Gwaii areas where there was no permanent high school. Students and their families came to stay in Aldergrove, some billeting with local families, other families moving temporarily to the area. In a time of Canada's dark history, when Indigenous children were removed from their families to be educated at religious schools, Aldergrove became a beacon of hope for indigenous families. Shared and honoured connections
The history behind the Aldergrove Totem Pole
Langley Advance May 8, 1958
Langley Advance May 8, 1958
Langley Advance May 8, 1958
From the ACSS School historical archive
between the local families and billeted families exist to this day. The original Totem Pole, shown at the left, was carved by Kakaso'las Ellen Neel, a hereditary carver from the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation. Ellen and her family had come to call Aldergrove home, moving to the drier climate of the Fraser Valley for health reasons, leaving behind the rain they were used to from the northern Vancouver Island area. The Totem pole was gifted to the school and the school's first student council, led by Mrs. Myers, worked with indigenous students to select the name for the school and the school motto. The school would be the Home of the Totems and the original motto was "Hi-Al Yu-Wen," meaning Second to None in Coast Salish dialect.
Each of the animals on the Totem pole would represent a facet of the school.
At the bottom of the Totem pole sits the the Beaver, noted for industry and skilled arts, for its kindliness, thoughtfulness, and many helpful acts.
In the paws of the Beaver is the Frog, characterized as watchman and custodian of our future and a symbol of youthful energy and vigor.
Above sits the Owl, a sign of the honour given to scholarship.
Above the owl is the Black Bear, a symbol of the friendly nature of the community.
In the paws of the Black Bear is the Salmon, signifying the contribution to be made by our graduates.
Finally, the Thunderbird rests atop our totem pole. The Thunderbird is the spirit of our school, expressed in our original motto Hi-Al Yu-Wen “Second to None.”
The original scroll bearing the description of each of the animals was presented to the Hon. L.R. Peterson, Minister of Education during the opening ceremony of Aldergrove Junior-Senior High School in 1958. The framed scroll has since been returned to the school and hangs on display outside the library. At the same ceremony, the Hon. Peterson was presented with a replica Totem pole as a memento of his involvement in the new high school. This replica Totem Pole was also carved by Ellen Neel and has since been lost. The original full-sized Totem Pole remains in the school and is displayed outside the library in the glass showcase..
The first graduation occurred in the gymnasium a short 18 days later on May 30. 34 graduates became part of the first Totems graduating class. The valedictory address was given by Steve Nelson.
The first full year of school saw students from grades 7 - 12 attending Aldergrove Junior-Senior High School. Any graduates wishing to participate in Senior Matriculation--that is take grade 13, an optional extra year of studies in preparation for university--would do so at Langley Junior-Senior High School.
From the ACSS School historical archive
By 1975, the school was bursting at the seams. Hoping to be approved to accommodate upwards of 950 students, a plan was proposed to see over half a million dollars spent in creating two new science labs as well as a growing area. These science labs now make up the current older area of the 'grad hallway' and the growing area has been turned into window seating which overlooks the courtyard. An additional expansion in 1978 at $1.2 million added the music facilities at the south of the school and to the east side, a separate Industrial Education wing was built to house the automotive, electronics, drafting, and metalworking classes. An addition to the cafeteria created a space for a teaching kitchen. It further expanded Aldergrove's capacity to hold nearly 1000 students.
Langley Advance, May 1, 1975
Langley Advance, May 17, 1978
Langley Advance, July 6 1983
With the rapid growth in the neighbouring areas throughout the early 1980s, Aldergrove Secondary School, as it had come to be known, underwent another renovation and expansion. The addition of the 'annex' housing the home economics labs and the business education classrooms was added to the school to the west side of the school. A cement hockey box and tennis courts were added to the west side to allow for
additional physical education spaces. The addition of a gymnastics gym allowed for Aldergrove Secondary to develop and maintain a competitive gymnastics program.
Renovation & Renaming 1993
The final renovation came in 1993 with a multi-million dollar facelift and expansion. After a year worth of living in a parking lot full of mud and more than 15 portables, the newly branded Aldergrove Community Secondary School opened to students. The Annex, built in 1983, was torn down to make room for a new technology wing with state-of-the-art chemistry, biology, and physics labs labs on the second floor. The counselling department set up shop in the new technology wing with an office for each counsellor. A brand new gymnasium was built with a flex space and room for a weight room above. Two new spacious home economics labs were opened that looked out onto a larger courtyard with built-in grandstand-like cement seating. The largest library in the district
Langley Advance, September 2, 1992
was constructed with computers that allowed students to connect to university level distance education courses via the Open Learning Agency. Classrooms in the original North Wing were upgraded and the old carpeting was removed. TVs and VCRs installed in every classroom and throughout the hallways for video announcements. The old gymnasium/theatre area was renovated and the stage was removed. Theatre lighting was upgraded that was controlled from the control board in the top projection booth. Retractable theatre style seating and stage walls were installed and the Black Box Theatre took its shape. A brand new office and foyer were built in the space that the Annex once occupied. The original office space was renovated and became the resource area across the hallway from a glassed in student lounge area attached to the library where senior students would check in for study blocks.
Langley Advance, August 26, 1992
Above and below, the new gym and home economics labs starts to take shape. From the ACSS 1994 Yearbook
(Above) The front foyer looking into the courtyard and home economics labs beyond. From the 1994 ACSS Yearbook.
The new front entrance. From the 1994 ACSS Yearbook.
View of the athletics foyer and new gym from the Kinsmen parking lot. ACSS Yearbook 1994.
View of the office and administration area, ACSS Yearbook 1994.
View of the front of the school and North Wing from the North West corner of the parking lot. ACSS Yearbook 1994.
The early 2000s saw declining enrolment in the Aldergrove area. Six feeder elementary schools in the Aldergrove region (Aldergrove Elementary, Parkside Centennial. Shortreed, Coghlan, County Line, and Betty Gilbert) were not sustainable. In 2004, Coghlan was reconfigured to become part of the Fundamental program and became a feeder school for Langley Fundamental Middle Secondary School. After much consultation and families in the area successfully fighting against the closure for two years, on March 27 2007, the district voted to close the aging Aldergrove Elementary School site and move the students, programs, and staff to Shortreed Elementary for September 2007. By closing Aldergrove Elementary, the district would save over $300,000 per year in operating costs. Dwindling enrolment also saw County Line close in 2007.
Langley Advance March 30, 2007
Reconfiguration of Aldergrove Schools
Langley Advance November 20 2007
Langley Advance February 27 2008
Shortly thereafter, the proposal to reconfigure the Aldergrove region into a middle school was presented by the school board. Many options were discussed, including separating an area of Aldergrove Community Secondary into a middle school zone--a middle school within a secondary school.
While this option was ultimately defeated, Aldergrove began the reconfiguration of the schools to create a partial middle school at the Betty Gilbert Elementary School site. By the fall of 2009, Parkside and Shortreed Elementary schools became K-5 sites, Betty Gilbert
became a middle school site welcoming students from grades 6-8, and Aldergrove Community Secondary School became a 9-12 school. To create equity amongst the middle school students in the Langley School District, Betty Gilbert students would walk across the school to access specialist courses from ACSS teachers like home economics, woodworking, drama, information technology, and music courses. Their core courses would be conducted at the Betty Gilbert site by their classroom teachers.
Over the years, the history of the Aldergrove Totem had become lost. We knew we were Totems, but we were not sure why or how our name came to be. In the fall of 2017, Aldergrove Community Secondary embarked on a historical journey to find out the lost history of the school. With the publication of the Federal Government's 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Final Report, the question was posed whether Aldergrove should remain as "The Totems" or whether the name and logo was a sign of cultural appropriation. School Principal Jeremy Lyndon, a former ACSS grad himself, brought together a group of current teachers, former administrators, and past alumni to plan a celebration in time for the May 12th 60th Anniversary and to reexamine the name. What was uncovered was a lost history of the school's name, its connection to the local Indigenous peoples, and the history behind the Aldergrove Totem pole. With the guidance of the Kwantlen First Nation the history of the school was uncovered including the name "The Totems," Mrs. Myers work with the local Indigenous elders and visiting students and families, and the history behind the creation of our Totem Pole. With the support of Matsqui, Kwantlen, Katzie, and Semiahmoo First Nations, the school was able to get in touch with LouAnn Neel, granddaughter of hereditary carver Kakasolas Ellen Neel. LouAnn traveled to the school for a rededication ceremony and the name Aldergrove Totems was regifted to the school by the four First Nations upon who's unceded land the Langley School District resides. A ceremony was held to recommit ourselves as Totems, to protect the gift we have received, and to work to never forget the cherished history we have with the Matsqui, Kwantlen, Katzie, and Semiahmoo First Nations as well as the many First Nations throughout coastal BC. During the recommitment ceremony, the new gym mural was unveiled. Cheryl skʷəyətən Gabriel, education coordinator of Kwantlen First Nations, opened the ceremony, calling the mural a beautiful representation of the cherished history of the school; one that should be protected and remembered for generations to come. On behalf of the Kwantlen First Nation, she regifted the name The Totems to the school and encouraged us to forever protect the gift we've held onto for over 60 years.
This mural reflects the six animals on our totem pole. Each of the animals on our Totem Pole represent the three of the four First Nations upon who's land the Langley School District resides. A seventh animal was added to our mural: the wolf, the symbol of the Kwantlen First Nation. The wolf stands on a rock outcropping above our Totem Pole, watching over the school. Through the seven teachings, wolves represent humility and we are honoured to add the Kwantlen wolf to our mural to recognize the tireless dedication and guidance that the Kwantlen peoples have given to us in rediscovering the history of our school. Our recommitment as Totems and the honoured past we share with Kwantlen, Katzie, Matsqui, and Semiahmoo First Nations as well as the families from the First Nations from the Nass, Skeena, Bella Bella, Bella Coola, and Haida Gwaii is an important part of who we are as students, staff, and alumni. With the blessing of Kwantlen, Katzie, Matsqui, and Semiahmoo First Nations, we look forward to many more years as Aldergrove Totems.
May 12, 2018 elders, LouAnn Ika'wega Neel, and school dignitaries sit watching the ceremony begin.
Cheryl skʷəyətən Gabriel, education coordinator of the Kwantlen First Nations addresses the crowd and welcomes LouAnn Ika'wega Neel..
May 2018: six former students are now staff at ACSS. From left to right: Zach Dahl, Wendy Potter, Katie Caines, Kim Haber, Laura McDonald, Shawna Urban, and Jeremy Lyndon
LouAnn Ika'wega Neel is blanketed in the Kwantlen blanket and welcomed to the Matsqui, Kwantlen, Katzie, and Semiahmoo First Nations.