July reunion planned for former high school students
© Submitted photo
June Saunders, Mel Jesseau and Maureen Hennessey are organizing the reunion to bring together former high school students from Grand Falls-Windsor this July.
Former students who attended high schools in Grand Falls-Windsor decades ago are getting together for a three-day reunion, regardless of their religious affiliations.
Those organizing the huge historic party said when they were in high school in the late 1960s and early 1970s, students fell under a denominational education system. Catholics were also segregated by gender. Catholic girls attended St. Catherine's Central High School while the boys went to St. Michael's Regional High School. Non-Catholics went to Grand Falls Academy (GFA).
No matter where they were educated, however, the students had one thing in common.
"Some of us were Catholic and some of us weren't but we were all friends," said Mel Jesseau who sits on the reunion's organizing committee.
Maureen Hennessey is also a member of the organizing committee. By the time she reached Grade 10 in 1967, she said, the religious barriers were starting to come down.
People from GFA could attend the dances at St. Michael's and St. Catherine's she said by getting a pass from a student at one of these schools.
"And people from GFA could come to the Twixteen Youth Club if they were sponsored by a Catholic who was a member," Hennessey said.
June Saunders, a graduate of GFA, said she was delighted when Hennessey contacted her last fall asking her to serve on the reunion's organizing committee.
While the 1968-70 classes at the Catholic schools have had three reunions since 1999, the classes of 1967-71 at GFA haven't held a reunion since 1985.
However, former GFA students were invited to a dance during the Catholic schools' reunion in 2005.
"We had arranged for a band (the Dynamics) from back in our day, to reunite and play for our dance. Many (GFA former students) came and what a magical night it was," Hennessey recalled.
Because of the great time the former students had in 2005, Hennessey felt a joint three-day reunion would go over well.
Others interested in organizing a reunion agreed.
The reunion is now planned for July 4-6 at the Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium in Grand Falls-Windsor.
The event's theme is Get Together. The theme song - "Get Together" by the Youngbloods.
The reunion's eight-member organizing committee is now looking to track down as many as 1,200 former students from the three schools. They have already heard from students from various parts of the world and interest is growing every day, Saunders said.
"A lot of graduates are now in their sixties. Some people are coming that haven't been back (to Newfoundland) since 1969," she said.
The reunion will be a nostalgic walk down memory lane and will a meet-and-greet and a dance complete with dance cards.
That's how it was done in the Catholic schools in his day, said Jesseau.
"(The nuns and Christian brothers) didn't want you to dance with your girlfriend all night so they came up with a card system where you had to go around before the dance and ask the girls for a dance. You'd mark down her name and fill out your dance card and when the number next to her name came on you'd have a dance with her."
Hennessey said she loved the dance card system even though she had a boyfriend at the time.
"I didn't mind sharing myself with the other guys," she laughed "but I always saved the last dance for him and he got to walk me home."
A dance card system is new to Saunders. There was no such thing in her school, she said.
Jesseau has fond memories of his high school years. Being segregated from the girls was all they knew at the time, he said.
"It was a real contest to try to interact with different girls because they were in a different building altogether and we weren't encouraged to co-mingle. But it was such a fun experience."
Jesseau said he's delighted that the Dynamics have agreed to get together once again to play at their dance. All are former students of the schools, he said.
"They used to play for us when we were all teenagers," he said.
The reunion will include events for spouses and special guests as well as a tribute to deceased former students.