George Bonner Elementary School is bordered on three sides by 240 acres of farmland owned by the Horton family. The Horton family originally owned 45 acres, which they purchased in 1929. In 1955, they purchased another 195 acres from the Hollings family. Shortly afterwards Les and Winnifred Horton sold 10 acres to the school district for the site of the present school. Most of Horton’s property is used for growing hay. The road running in front of the school was part of the original Island Highway. In fact, if you look to the northwest along Cobble Hill Road you will see an old farmhouse that was a stage-coach stop and the nearby barn was used as a livery stable.
While George Bonner is an elementary school now, it did not begin that way. George Bonner Secondary, named in honour of Mr. George E. Bonner, a long time school trustee, was opened in the fall of 1957. Bonner opened as a high school, so that south end students from grades seven to twelve would not have to travel to Duncan to attend school. Prior to the opening of Bonner, students who wanted to continue their education at the secondary level in Duncan were often required to board there. During its first year of operation, the school served 200 students in Grades 7 to 11, with a staff of twelve guided by Mr. W. V. Allester, the school’s first principal.
In 1958-59, George Bonner already had its second Principal, Mr. Todd. The school’s first Grade 12 graduating class consisted of twelve young people. The following year, Bonner had its final Grade 12 graduating class, a group of fifteen. Shortly, the school would experience another change due to increasing enrollment and changes in the district.
During the ensuing years, George Bonner became a junior secondary school enrolling Grades 8, 9, and 10. The school was renovated on at least four occasions to accommodate its burgeoning enrollment. Mr. P. F. Owen was the principal of the school until he took a position at the School Board Office as a Director of Instruction. After Mr. Owen, a number of people took up the principalship of Bonner including Mr. S. Smyth, Mr. R. Rodman, Mr. P. Alexander and Miss E. J. Milne. While Miss Milne was the principal, the school changed from a junior secondary school to a middle school enrolling Grades 7 and 8. When Miss Milne moved to a District position, Mr. H. S. Jawanda took over the principalship and had extensive involvement in the renovation and rebuilding of the school.
Most of the George Bonner Middle School building was demolished at the beginning of July 2005 and rebuilt to include a two-story classroom wing with an atrium, a stunning multi-purpose room with theatre seating for over 300, a library, a drama room and change rooms. The part of the building that was not demolished received a seismic upgrade and extensive renovations. The beautifully designed building served the educational needs of south-end students enrolled in grade 6, 7 and 8 from 2006 to 2013. Following Mr. H.S. Jawanda’s retirement, Ms. H. Grant took the reigns providing great leadership like those before her.
Most recently, in 2013 the school experienced yet another change during the restructuring of School District 79. George Bonner Middle School became an elementary school and the new home to south-end students in grades Kindergarten to Grade 7. Renamed George Bonner Elementary, the school continues to strive to create a positive school community that empowers students and promotes life-long learning. Currently, Mr. C. Clark is the principal to 475 students and a staff of approximately 40.