ALMOST 50 members of the Mission High School class of ’59 gathered at the Best Western Mission City Lodge last month to celebrate their 60-year reunion.
Classmates and spouses arrived from Victoria, Parksville, Mill Bay, Nanaimo, Campbell River, Kelowna, Greenwood, Vancouver, Langley, Delta, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, Clearbrook, Abbotsford, Deroche, Mission and Kitimat, and best wishes were received from many more classmates who were not able to attend.
Organizers said they were in contact with more than 80 classmates (two in Australia, one in England, four in California, three in Washington State, two in Ontario, two in Alberta, and the rest in British Columbia) but did not know who would be able to come until they walked through the door.
As guests arrived in Mission on Friday evening, they met in the executive suite and got an early start on the visiting.
“We also got all the albums and memorabilia that we have gathered over the years, ready to display on Saturday,” said one of the organizers.
On Saturday, they held an eight-hour open house that allowed old friends to reunite and share stories and memories and provide an opportunity to catch up about the past six decades.
As soon as guests walked into the room and pinned on their name tags, the visiting and reminiscing began.
Sunday was the day the group toured the town.
“We decided to meet in the parking lot at noon and divide into groups according to where people wanted to go. We had four or five drivers who would be able to take three or four people each. However, because it was pouring with rain, fewer people came out and we were all able to go in one van,” organizers said.
The group spent two hours going everywhere they wanted to go, even out to McConnell Creek.
“Some of the houses we used to live in were still there, but many had been taken down and replaced by condo developments.”
After a late lunch and a little more visiting, it was time to say goodbye as everyone headed for home.
The class of ’59’s 60-year reunion was over but the classmates agreed to stay in contact through emails, letters, and telephone calls.
About the class:
Margaret Anne Gunn Irvine, one of the organizers of the reunion, submitted this brief history of the class and its previous gatherings:
Most of the classmates grew up in the Mission School District and went all the way through elementary and high school. However, those who lived in the outlying areas had very different experiences than those who lived in town. There were elementary schools in the outlying communities, but the students had to be bused into town to attend high school.
Buses arrived at the school just a few minutes before the bell in the morning, and left just a few minutes after dismissal in the afternoon.
Those students could not participate in extra-curricular activities that were scheduled before or after school unless they had their own transportation.
They also had to spend up to two hours a day on the bus and often had farm chores to do when they arrived home.
Ninety-two students graduated from MHS in 1959, although four of them did not take part in the graduation activities. There was a 10-year grad reunion which was held at The Rancho in Abbotsford in l969. In l984, a group of decided that they should organize a 25-year reunion. However, because some of our classmates did not graduate with us, and some did not have the opportunity to graduate at all, we decided to include everyone who had been in our classes over the years.
It then became a “class reunion” rather than a grad reunion. We went back year by year in our annuals and compiled a much larger list of classmates. We found that the classmates who had not graduated with us were delighted to be included.
We also compiled a list of all our teachers over the years and invited them to come to our reunion, too.
The 25-year reunion was held in Mission in August of 1984.
We organized our next reunion 15 years later – in 1999 – as they celebrated their 40-year reunion.
We enjoyed a wonderful tour of the hallowed halls of MHS. As can be expected, things had changed a lot in the 40 years since we attended school there, but we looked into several rooms and compared what was there now to what we remembered being there. We even tried out the desks in Mrs. Hansen’s music room.
The next four reunions – the 45th, the 50th, the 55th, and now the 60th – all followed the same pattern.
As we have gotten older, the number of classmates who have been able to attend our reunions has decreased, but we do plan on keeping in touch with everyone.
As long as our classmates are willing to keep in touch and to participate in whatever we are doing, we will keep organizing whatever we can.