Though primary education on the Point dates back to 1886 when a school was organized in a person’s home in the Freeman Beach area, this month is the 30th anniversary of the current primary school building located next to Baker Field on Benson Road. Its opening in September 1993 ended a 30-year absence of a local school. For the previous three decades, all schoolchildren attending public school, even the kindergartners, were bused to Blaine, requiring four international border crossings every single day.
The first schoolhouse in Point Roberts was on Benson Road in the vicinity of the Gulf Aire mobile home park. After occupying a couple of locations on Gulf Road, in 1937 the school settled into a brick building constructed by the Works Progress Administration, today’s community center.
The need for schoolhouses and teachers has fluctuated with economic conditions on the Point. Enrollment in 1890 was 27, but when Icelanders began arriving in large numbers in the 1890s, attendance was large enough for Point Roberts to be organized as School District 68. From the turn of the century through the early 1930s, there were over 80 children attending the school.
When salmon fish traps were banned in 1934, attendance was immediately cut in half. The Point Roberts school district folded and merged with the Blaine school district in 1940, but a local schoolhouse remained. By 1954, local enrollment had dipped to 24 students in grades one to six, all in one room. After grade six, students were bused to Blaine.
As Point Roberts became more of a summer cottage community, attendance dipped further. By 1962, only 11 students remained. The brick school was closed, eventually becoming the community center, today owned and administered by the Point Roberts Park and Recreation District.
The presence of a local school is a boon to the education of our children. To educate yourself about the history of Point Roberts, step into the Point Roberts History Center, open Saturdays, located in the former brick schoolhouse’s library.
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