Back to the Future

Yep… Rossland is a great place to grow up and raise a family. We had about 250 students from grades 8-12 with 65 students in grade 12. In grade 11, Maclean Elementary burnt down so we had students from grades 3 to 12 at the high school until they rebuilt it. I remember when I was in grade 12, the school decided to have a calculus class. This was not part of our regular curriculum at the time. It was so one of my classmates would qualify for some prestigious scholarship… which he won by the way. To fill the class and get a teacher, they offered it to students from grades 9-12 in order to have enough students. I may no longer live there but I left my heart there when I moved away. Click here to read the full article or an excerpt below.


The school’s motto, which in Latin is Temporibus Construimus Futuris, or “build for the future,” will see a future of kindergarten to Grade 9 students, while the three most senior grades move to J.L. Crowe down the hill.

It’s a sad time of reflection, said Joe Ranallo, a former student, administrator and parent of RSS, because of the long and storied history of the facility and its students.

RSS was built at the same time as Trail’s J.L. Crowe Secondary School, but was operated as its own individual school district at the time of its inception, separate from Trail. Ranallo had arrived in the Golden City from Italy four years after the school was built with his mother Carmela Camozzi, graduating from RSS in 1961.

He left for the University of Victoria soon after, returning in 1968 to teach at J.L. Crowe for 18 years. He moved over into school district administration in 1986 and teacher education, and was back at RSS in 1993/94 for a brief stint as the school’s vice principal.

Now 72, Renallo has seen all sides of RSS, and Crowe, both from a student and teacher perspective, but also as a parent when his two children, Michael and Laura, attended RSS in the 1980s.

Like Trail, RSS has graduated its share of students that have served both the community and the world generously, said Ranallo, but, unlike Trail, because of its smaller size, RSS provided students with an intimate social environment for learning that was unique to the area.

“For many of its students, the school was an extension of the home,” said Ranallo of RSS. “And for some students, that sense of closeness and belonging was critical.”

That aspect was lost when School District 20 voted to close the high school program in Rossland and move it to Trail. Ranallo said the biggest loss was not the three grades in the city, but choice.

“No matter where they live—in Fruitvale, Trail or Rossland—the senior secondary students of the area could choose the school they wanted and needed to attend,” he said. “This choice was probably the most valuable asset the district had to offer, and they eliminated that choice.”

Throughout its 61 years as a high school, RSS achieved some fame regionally and nationally for its academic, artistic as well as athletic achievements, largely due to its small size and the community’s commitment to education.

It spread so far that in 2003 that the national publication Maclean’s magazine voted RSS as one of the top three overall schools in Canada. Ranallo said that accolade was attributed more to the community than the school itself.

“A lot of homes really promote education in Rossland,” Ranallo said. “The school can only do so much.”

Although both SD20 schools were equally good, he pointed to the year of his tenure in 1990/91 as school administrator in Rossland, when RSS had more students win provincial scholarships than the much larger J.L. Crowe as an example that the RSS students “were not being shortchanged.”

The Sport Academy Program at RSS was started in 2005 and included alpine skiing, free skiing, snowboarding and classical dance. Before and after the program was created, RSS student athletes  won several provincial titles in skiing, snowboarding and field hockey.

The list of notable athletes from the school is impressive. According to its wall of fame outside the gymnasium, 13 athletes from RSS have gone on to national and international fame, including three Olympic medal winners.

The RSS band program competed in and won several competitions, including the prestigious Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival.

Over the years RSS hosted students from all over the world through the International Program, with dozens of students from Korea, Germany, Japan and other countries.

Ranallo retired eight years ago from teaching and school administration but he understood the financial pressures now facing trustees and current administrators. He criticized the decision to close RSS and said the School District 20 board of trustees “succumbed to political and economic pressures.

“They are thinking of how to improve Crowe, not what is best for the students of the entire area, not just Rossland,” he said. “Instead of continuing to nurture the fortunate situation they found when they came into office, a number of trustees have taken advantage of their voting majority to devastate one community without a guarantee that there will be much improvement to the other.”

They have also put the lives of a number of students at a potential risk. He pointed to the safety of the road the school bus will now travel up and down to Trail as precarious, even in the warmer weather months.

“The accident that happened four weeks ago could very well have been a school bus,” he said, alluding to the death of a semi-truck driver who overturned his vehicle on Rossland Hill on May 3. “If a truck can lose control, so can a bus.”

The board should have accepted what was an obvious situation that was fair to the entire district and kept two distinct high schools in the Greater Trail region, said Ranallo.

“Its responsibility should have been to find the best way to fund the status quo with the limited resources it has,” he said. “The well intended, but misguided, trustees should have sought a win/win resolution rather than one that is convenient, but unjustified.”

Ranallo hoped the decision to close RSS could be overturned with a new school board and the high school resurrected, and re-ignite the annals of history for such a prolific school.

Wall of Fame

• Thea Culley, Canadian national field hockey team

• Frances Pettitt, three-time Canadian Muay Thai kickboxing champion; 2005 North American Muay Thai champion

• Geoffrey Richards, Canadian national cross country ski team developmental squad

• Kerrin Lee-Gartner, 1994 Winter Olympics gold medallist in women’s downhill

• Dallas Drake, NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and Winnipeg Jets

• Joe Zanussi, NHL’s Boston Bruins

• Jamie Rizutto, 1997 Canadian extreme wakeboard champion

• Nancy Greene-Raine, 1968 Winter Olympics gold medallist in women’s downhill

• Rebecca Reid, Canadian junior national cross country ski team

• George Grey, Canadian national cross country ski team, 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics

• Lindsey Roberts, 1995 Canadian women’s downhill champion

• Rhonda DeLong, Canadian women’s cross country ski champion, 1992-93


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