History - Schooling

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One of the most familiar structures in Kippens was a small community school, known as St. Raymond's. To the newly arrived resident, St. Raymond's School has little or no meaning. To the longtime residents and former students, however, St. Raymond's was far more than just a school. It represented a part of their community, a part of themselves, and away of life.

There have only been schools in Kippens, as long as anyone can remember -- St. Raymond's and its predecessor. The first school serviced many of the original settlers. This school was not known to have had an official name. Instead, it was simply addresses "Kippens School". It was a quaint, squalid structure consisting of a single room and heated by a wood stove. The floor was clad with bar lumber, and more often than not the roof was in dire need of repair. Mr. John White, a former student of Kippens School, exclaims:

The floor was made with boards and it was all-open. There was an old stove in there, and it was cold in the winter. The stove was tied up with wire, and one time the wire burned and the stove fell apart. It fell on the floor. I do not know how we could learn in a school like that. Needless to say, at that time schooling, and not comfort, was the number one priority.

"Kippens School" was torn down in the early 1940's when the American Air Force Base started in Stephenville. A more modern and sophisticated facility was constructed in its place. The educational needs of Kippens residents would now be served in the halls of St. Raymond's. St. Raymond's School was build by the church under the pastor-ship of Monsignor Brennan. St. Raymond's was named after Monsignor Raymond March, who was the first priest to come from Kippens.

The new structure was comprised of three rooms housing grades one to eleven. Between 1947 and 1951, a new room was built on the back for the grade sevens, and in 1962 two more rooms were added. The only other change in its structure was the construction of a kindergarten room in 1971, as well as an office and staff room.

People who went to St. Raymond's in the early years remember vividly the cocoamalt that they used to get in school. The tins of cocoamalt would be sent to the teacher, who would distribute it to the school children. The children would bring their own mug and spoon, and the teacher would boil the kettle and everyone would drink their cocoamalt. Sometimes the children would eat just the cocoamalt powder, minus the water. Children were also given cod liver oil in school, and they would get orange juice as well.

When asked about their teachers in the early years, former students mention such names as Lizzie Dubordieu, Stacy Gillis, May O'Neill, Margaret Culleton, Dolorosa Gallant, Mrs. Jim White, and Raymond March, before he became an ordained priest. The only complaint heard about them was their strictness. With student-teacher ratios as high as forth to one, discipline was, needless to say, a necessary element in the school curriculum. However, no one suffered, and most school activities ran smoothly.

There was night school for the adults, and a lot of people attended, since it gave them the opportunity to learn to read and write.

One June 16, 1981, St. Raymond's School was officially closed. The Port au Port Roman Catholic School Board announced it would be closing the school at the end of the 1980-1981 school year, die to several problems.

Financially, it would not be reasonable to upgrade the school. Harold Stapleton, superintendent of the school board at that time, stated that it would have cost between $50,000 and $70,000 just to bring the building up to the Fire Commissioner's standards. Little maintenance was ever done on the school, and its older section was rotting. The furnace was also a major problem and had to be replaced. Thus, St. Raymond's was not a viable economic institution, and in a society where money is the number one priority, economics and not tradition will most certainly take precedent.

The school building itself has since been torn down, and a vacant lot now sites where St. Raymond's was once situated.