July 6th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 27
There’s nothing wrong with a little nostalgia at home
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
John Kinnear photo
Coleman High School Graduating Class 1962
This July 1st long weekend saw a phenomenal coming together of no less than 15 years worth of graduation classes here in the Pass. The word on this gathering first went out last August as event coordinator Ron Hungar started up the Facebook site ”Crowsnest Pass Alberta 2016 Schools Reunion 1960 to 1975” and began drawing in interest. Social media like Facebook is an extremely powerful tool for getting the word out these days and as the months went by the word spread and the list of attendees grew until it hit 400 just before the event.

Reunions are usually greeted with either trepidation or anticipation. There is nothing worse than having someone come up to you and say: “You don’t know who I am do you?” Then again there is nothing better that hearing your name called out and then getting a big hug from a former classmate that you haven’t seen since graduation. Trust me when I tell you that the anxiety that builds up about attending a reunion evaporates as soon as you walk in the door and the buzz from dozens of excited re-uniters hits your ears. You are quickly drawn in to the sea of anxious former grads and as you scan the room you see eyes light up with acknowledgment and recognition.

High school was no piece of cake that’s for sure. As we all matured into young adults the internal battles we went through, the newly surfacing personalities we tried out and the continuous trial of trying to fit in kind of made it somewhat traumatic. But that’s the way it is when the hormones are coursing through your body, the acne is threatening your self esteem and you are charging inexorably towards that day when you grand march yourself into a new life of post secondary education.
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So the gathering at the Coleman Sports Complex this weekend to recollect those “good old days” was a grand affair where old friends got caught up on where they had gone with their lives and spoke those oh-so-familiar words to each other. Remember when we…? It was pretty much a litany of great party stories, laughable close calls, missed foul shots and dates gone awry that left everyone laughing and pointing fingers. It is funny because those two words- remember when- seems to launch us into a frenzy of recollections that we need to have acknowledged by others for their correctness. It is a time of memory reinforcement. “Yes, that’s how it went. My God, I can’t believe we did that!”

The yearbooks were set out on tables for all to refresh in their minds the images of those they knew so long ago and the key events that were such a part of their wacky school years. The basketball teams, the curling trophies and of course those cute cheer leader outfits Most found themselves doing a bit of memory file corrections as they learned it did not go down quite like they thought it did. There is nothing like a group picture to stimulate those important cognitive maps stored in our hippocampus. It was fun to watch heads bowing low at the tables, probably due to failing eyesight, as former graduands flipped through shots of student councils, band, curling, newspaper and drama clubs and of course the crowning pictures of the now defunct (thankfully) valentine queen or spring sweetheart winner’s contests.
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It was also a time to recall the particular nuances of some of those special and some not-so-special teachers whose paths we had crossed (literally) through the years. Most of the earlier year teachers have left us but their teaching style and personalities remain in our minds. I know for teachers what was uppermost in their minds was to inspire, challenge and encourage us all to look deeper into what interested us. Feedback does not come often for the instructor and sometimes we don’t get the chance to say thank you for pushing us and redirecting us. We don’t recognize how important they were in our lives until a lot later in life and by then it is too late.

At the far side of the arena on Saturday I noticed a profound stand-alone display of twenty four doves with pictures attached to them. On closer inspection I discovered it was a commemorative effort by former Isabelle Sellon students to remember those from 1967 to 1970 classes that were no longer with us. It was a sobering moment for me as I thought back through my own graduating year and remembered that three of our seventeen grads were now gone. I know they would have been there in spades at this bash if they could have.

One thing is clear. The Crowsnest Pass high schools have consistently produced some of the finest students any teacher could ask for. Teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers, chemists, researchers, authors and on ad infinitum. Many have gone on to have wonderful families and great careers. They charged into the world with gusto, fired up by those inspirational valedictorian speeches that talked about us pushing back man’s frontiers and making new discoveries.
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Browsing through the collection of yearbooks I found a part of the principal’s message from Eric Price in 1971, the first year of the Crowsnest Consolidated High School, that was typical of those go get em challenges. It reads: “In professional, business, scientific and technological life there is a rule which can be a very good rule for an ambitious young person: find a vacuum and expand into it. What is there that needs doing and is not being done? Assess your capacity to do things, and let it be your ambition to do the work that you can do best, in an area where it is needed, and then put all your mind into it.”

He goes on to conclude: “Look out into that vacuum, my dear students, and determine the contribution you can best make to the world. And then pursue your ambition with patience, vigilance, wisdom and determination.” And so away we all went, out into that scary world of post secondary education. Behind us were our parents, many who helped with our tuition and urged us to keep going. And of course our teachers, left behind, watching and waiting to see where life would take us and if the foundation they built under us was solid.

Who knows when we will all see each other again? Reunions are really important opportunities to reconnect and reflect. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Many thanks to Ron Hungar and to all the volunteers that made this reunion such a great gathering.
July 6th ~ Vol. 85 No. 27
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