Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Iron River School remembers beloved teacher

For the Bonnyville Nouvelle.

Students and staff gather around Iron River School's new picnic benches to commemorate the school's 60th aniversary and to remember loved teacher David Sarawanski
Eric Bowling
A much-loved teacher was commemorated at Iron River School’s end of the year celebrations that also happened to be a major milestone for the school itself.

Iron River School remembered one of its greatest instructors, David Sarawanski as it celebrated its 60th year in operation on June 28.

Though technically last year was the school’s 60th birthday, celebrations were held off until a commemorative plaque and picnic bench were installed in memory of Sarawanski, or “Mr. S” as he was commonly known. A second bench was installed to commemorate the school’s milestone.

“We chose to do the celebration this year because we wanted to have a table for Mr. Sarawanski as well,” said Iron River principal Jeannine Ellis. “Both of these things mean a lot to me.”

The picnic tables were crowd sourced from the community, with Sarawanski’s last class raising nearly $100 amongst themselves to the cause. In total, the benches cost $2,160 to install.

“The kids wanted to do something,” explained Ellis. “The family had decided that fund would be donated at the funeral to the school, so the kids themselves also collected some funds. They really wanted something outdoors, something that would remind them of Mr. S.”

Born during Iron River School’s first year of operation, Sarawanski became a fixture in the school. First a student at the school, he later joined as a teacher for several decades and then again came out of retirement to fill a maternity leave teaching position. In addition to the usual gambit of math, science, English and social studies, Sarawanski also taught a hunter training class, educating the students of Iron River the craft.

He also was the bus driver for the school’s sports teams.

“Dave was somebody that loved laughter. He loved to make jokes, and he loved the outdoors,” recalled Ellis. “He was about having fun and making sure kids enjoy school.”

The students of Iron River School enjoyed their last days before summer holidays with cupcakes and memories of one of their favorite teachers.

“This school is truly a community school, it was a community effort to establish this school,” said Northern Lights deputy superintendent Roy Ripkins. “Dave Sarawanski started school here and ended his career here. It’s very heartfelt.”

Ellis added that it was appropriate that the school was celebrating its 60th at the same time as it was celebrating Sarawanski, as he would have turned 60 this year. Ellis noted that Sarawanski left a void that would be difficult to fill.

“He supported kids 100 per cent,” noted Ellis. “We’re going to miss him.

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