The history of Sacred Heart High School

It has been 100 years since the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate came to Yorkton and opened a school.

The Sacred Heart that opened its doors 100 years ago was not very similar to the one that is operating today. The first students were 25 elementary school students. The school was called the Sacred Heart Institute, since it was not, at that point, a high school. The first teacher was Sister Athanasia Melnyk.

The second year of the school saw 75 students, 22 of whom were orphans of the influenza outbreak. The school was a co-educational residential school and day elementary school as well as an orphanage. The school didn’t offer high school classes until 1932, with an opening class of three grade nine students. That expanded to a full high school program in 1933. There were high school students boarding at the school as early as 1927, but they took classes at the Yorkton Collegiate. The first Sacred Heart graduation ceremony was much smaller than a modern one, with a mere two students celebrating the end of their high school career, Adele Byblow from Springside and Anne Kwiatkowski from Hendon, Saskatchewan.

The history of Sacred Heart is closely linked with that of St. Joseph’s College, which opened in 1920 as a boarding school for boys operated by the De La Salle Christian Brothers. They began having joint graduation ceremonies in 1942.

Increasing enrolments saw the school become more focused on high school students, with elementary school kids sent to St. Mary’s in 1945. Overcrowding also saw the school expand in the following years, first with an H-Hut and Mess Hall purchased from the Royal Canadian Airforce Base outside of Yorkton in 1948, and then again in 1958 with a $700,000 expansion which saw two wings added to the old school. The expansion increased potential enrolment to 200 students, and also saw the introduction of the Sacred Heart of Jesus statue which still sits in the entry of the current Sacred Heart High School.

The ‘60s saw changes in the teachers in the school. Marian Balint was the first teacher who was not a nun in 1964, while 1967 saw the first male teachers Nick Greschuk and Leo Misko.

The 1960s also saw more expansion to the school, with an addition to the addition in 1969. The new part of the school includes a library, art room, language lab, teaching theatre, bowling alley and swimming pool. The other big change in 1969 was having combined classes with Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s students, a prelude to their inevitable amalgamation, which happened in 1973.

In the early years, the school was referred to as Sacred Heart/St. Joseph’s High School – though St. Joseph’s was dropped in 1975 – and they combined the two schools’ colour schemes into the green white and gold colour scheme the school uses to this day. School uniforms were also discarded, though female students were still expected to wear skirts, a policy that went into the ‘90s.

The 1990s were a decade of big change for the school yet again. The 75th anniversary in 1991 was the last time a sister would be the principal of the school, with Sister Terry Ann Slota being replaced by Kevin Lubiniecki. The Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate also left their residence in the school in 1996, in order to make room in the school as increasing enrolment lead to overcrowding.

Even with the extra space afforded by the nuns moving, the student body was outgrowing the old school. That set the stage for the new Sacred Heart High School, with planning beginning in 1999. Construction began in 2001 at a cost of $11.6 million, and the school held its first class on February 24, 2003.

The former Sacred Heart still stands, and is used as an assisted living facility. The former St. Joseph’s was demolished in 2004.

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