Back to school, 40 years later

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Edwin Parr Composite School Class of 1978 celebrates 40th anniversary reunion

The 1978 graduates of Edwin Parr Composite School (EPC) reunited and reminisced about their high school days with a 40th anniversary reunion at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 103 Athabasca Aug. 11.

Over 50 people from the class came from across Canada to attend, which is the fourth reunion the class has held since graduating. Graduates were treated to a social evening, dinner and a tour through the old EPC building.

Organizing committee member Lorraine Williams said the class comes together every 10 years and has kept a close bond.

“We’ve been getting together without fail, largely due to the local residents in Athabasca initiating it or some other people just step up and say, ‘Yeah, we got to do this because we really value our friendships and relationships,'” Williams said in an interview.

She added the Class of 1978 is unique in how often it has reunited, with classes a few years before and a few years after not meeting as often.

“The main reason was we were not a cliquey class at all,” Williams said. “Ours was just ordinary people, friendly people, easy, get-along-with class and we’ve maintained friendships. Many of us have had friendships for 45 years, since were in elementary school.”

Guests came in from out of province to join in the festivities. Graduate Tickie Hayes said she drove 24 hours from her home in Haines Junction, Yukon to be there.

“The main reason I did that was I thoroughly enjoyed my high school years, but I also wanted to reconnect with everyone,” Hayes said, adding she made the 10-year reunion but had missed the 20-year and 30-year events. “It’s kind of like a revitalization. Just makes me feel good to see everybody so successful.”

Hayes said it was enjoyable touring old EPC building, which set to fall out of use as a new school building is finished for the new school year in September.

“It meant a lot to us,” Hayes said about touring the building. It was nice to see it before it went. Lot of good memories.”

The reunion also invited teachers to join the proceedings, as well as EPC’s 1978 principal, Al Wurfel.

Wurfel said a core group of the class has been able to keep it together over the decades.

“There’s a core group here that’s got a strong sense of community,” Wurfel said. “Lots of the classes have reunions, but these people seem to have one every 10 years and it’s because there’s this group that acts as the glue to keep it together.”

Williams said it was challenging for the organizing  committee to track down and contact all of the 1978 graduates, which had approximately 120 people.

“We found people through phone books; we phone their parents that are from here. We asked around,” Williams said. “That was the big challenge, was finding everybody. Hopefully for our 50th, we’ll have even more.”

The class speaks well of its days growing up, Williams said. She added there was a common sense, work ethic and respect kids growing up in that time had.

“All of them are in different careers and different professions where they’ve taken the character building that we had as kids growing up in the 60s and 70s and they’ve put them into their profession,” Williams said. “They’ve carried that through. I think that’s the greatest contribution to your community is we knew how to work.”

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