The Elmira District Secondary School class of 1970 is celebrating their 50th class reunion on June 24.
Technically they’re celebrating the 53rd, since the group couldn’t meet for the actual golden reunion during the pandemic.
“This party’s been three years in the making,” said Mark Soehner, one of the organizers.
The event will take place at Dennis Martin’s Winterose farm near Winterbourne.
So far, 58 people have said they’re attending, and this includes four of their favourite teachers: Bill Crane, a former English teacher; Paul Atkinson, former head of the math department, and his wife; Gary Bryant, former history and English teacher; and possibly Bill Exley, former head of the English department.
Classmates are coming from Victoria, Kamloops, Calgary, Winnipeg, Colorado, Michigan, Wasaga Beach, Red Bay, Mount Forest, Stratford, Ayr, St. Jacobs, Floradale, Waterloo and Elmira, said Soehner.
The group of former classmates is fairly tight-knit. Martin says the group has been pretty diligent about having reunions approximately every five years.
Soehner says this year, the challenge has been that they’ve lost contact with some of their former classmates.
“I’m hoping that the people that we’ve lost track of, if they are in that Grade 13 group of 1970, I want them to reach out to Dennis,” said Soehner. “We want them to come, even as late as letting (us) know the day before. I’m shopping for 65 people. So if we get a surprise visitor, that’s great. We’ll be able to accommodate them.”
Martin has a lot of good memories of his class. “We had a variety of talents in our class. There were some good athletes and some good musicians.” He remembers a group band trip to Japan, and a teacher, Bill Exley, who meticulously measured the distance between rows of desks with a yardstick.
But, why keep organizing these reunions?
“Well, it’s nice to find out how things have gone for other people, and things you never realized, the talents you didn’t know that were there. Or, you know, the good stuff and the not so good stuff that happened. And that’s the great part and that’s the trouble: the afternoon goes by too fast,” said Martin.
He’s supportive of the achievements of his classmates, citing that some have gone on to become politicians, firefighters or successful business owners.
Soehner remembers former get-togethers such as their 1969 corn roast on his parents’ property on Arthur Street, and the 40th anniversary party at the same property, though the home is now torn down. The group also celebrated their 65th birthdays together in 2016.
The afternoon will start with Martin offering tours for anyone interested, of his teaching woodlot and solar panel projects, in which he takes great pride, beginning at 1 p.m.
More people will start to arrive at 3 p.m., and a BBQ meal will be served at 5 p.m., said Martin. Soehner said greetings will be at 3 p.m. and again at 4 p.m.
“Anyone coming later than four o’clock, they need a note from their parents or they are going to the principal’s office,” Soehner laughed.
Martin says he’s thankful for the reunions.
“It was a good school and we had good teachers and, you know, a strong community. That’s a big part of it – strong families. And one of the social determinants of health is a strong family network and a lot of us had that. Some didn’t, and there were some really tragic stories too,” he said.
“So you’re grateful that we’re all still around a bit, for who knows how long.”
Martin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.