After a year of preparation, the grade seven class of 1972 from James Thomson Elementary School held its 50-year reunion on June 3 and 4. The majority of classmates were eager to reunite and the response was incredible.
The festivities started on Friday afternoon with those who could make it to meet in front of their beloved school and start their walking tour of Wildwood, where most of them were raised. They walked along Sutherland Avenue to the loop, down Skeena Street along McMahon Avenue and up Nass Street. The tour also included Sutherland Avenue, up Lois Street to Hillcrest Avenue and then down Columbia Street.
At the corner of King Avenue and Columbia the group met up with more classmates, who informed the walkers of a black bear down toward the gas station. So a decision was made to take the shortcut from King to Joncas Place, where they entered their old school yard.
The route was chosen so people could see the homes they were brought up in as well as those of the members who still reside in Wildwood.
Arrangements had been made for Dean Thorsell, a teacher at James Thomson, to take the alumni on a guided tour of their old classrooms where they spent eight of their pre-teen years. Walking the halls again after 50 years was surreal, and when they went into the gym many memories were rehashed. They believe the gymnastic vault is the same one they used back in 1972.
The group then made its way to the primary building, old school, where they attended kindergarten through grade three.
Having a class picture on the steps of the old school was a memorable event.
The day was capped off with a few cold drinks and many old stories at Wildwood Public House.
On June 4 the group gathered for a backyard barbecue complete with three large canopies as the weather turned ugly. However, that didn’t dampen the spirits of the alumni and their partners as everyone enjoyed burgers, salads, appetizers and desserts, along with more drinks.
More stories from Friday spurred memories as even more came out on Saturday.
Unfortunately, a few members of the class have passed away and they were remembered along with their favourite principal, Len Carriere. Sadly the teaching staff they contacted were unable to attend due to varying reasons.
In total, 18 alumni from the grade seven class were able to attend over the two-day event.
People came from as far away as Brooks, Alberta, South Surrey, Nanaimo, Vancouver and Campbell River, but the majority still live in Powell River and all vow that we will not wait another 50 years to get together again.
Max Pagani is a member of James Thomson’s class of 1972.