R.D. Parker Collegiate, formerly Thompson High School, turns 50 years old this year and a reunion is in the works for what will be one of the biggest parties Thompson has ever seen.
The event comes on the heels of the success of the 40-year anniversary that was held in 2002. Volker Beckmann was involved with the planning for the 40-year celebration and is again involved for this year’s 50th.
“For the 40 year anniversary we had a reunion, but it was only for that first decade of people that went to the school,” said Beckmann, “so we went through all the yearbooks and brought in about 1,000 names and had to hunt everyone down.”
This year’s event is on a much larger scale, and will host students from every decade, and be broken down into groups by the decade which they attended the school.
“The first one was such a great success, that we had do something special for the 50th,” said Beckmann, “so I went to the [school] board in January and asked what they were doing, and Sya Gregovski talked to the board and they approved that there would be a celebration.”
The plan originally was to host the reunion in May, but it was moved to the weekend of Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 in order to allow people travelling from out of town as much time as possible to make plans.
Beckmann has been working to find individual group leaders to work with each decade and track down students from that time and group them all together on Facebook.
“There will be a big banquet for everyone on the Saturday night,” said Beckmann, “but you’re not going to know someone who graduated 25 years before or after you, so that’s why we’re breaking it down so there’s things going on for the different groups.”
Plans are being made for the groups to break down into even smaller groups for barbecues at the different elementary schools.
Over 300 people have already confirmed on Facebook that they will be attending, many of whom are travelling from out of town.
“We’ll be putting the hotels to use, as well as camp grounds and people will be billeting, and a lot of friends will stay with old friends,” said Beckmann, “we’ve asked some hotels if they’d like to be a sponsor for the event and they would contribute to helping with expenses and we would link the hotel directly from the group page to their website.”
The weekend’s itinerary is still in the works, but plans are in place for a Friday meet-and-greet, breakfasts at the school cafeteria on Saturday and Sunday, with tours of the school being mixed in, and a gala dinner on Saturday evening at the C.A. Nesbitt Arena.
“This one is going to be really unique because all the decades will be in attendance,” said Beckmann, “we’ll have families reuniting at this one who may have moved apart but they grew up here and that will be kind of cool for them.”
Beckmann is writing a letter to the City of Thompson to let them know that the event now official and has a committee in place with Beckmann and Brenda Redman as co-chairs.
“We need to let them know we would like to use their facilities,” said Beckmann, “but it’s a great thing for the city; we’re going to have people coming in here spending money and contributing economically, and they’ll see things that they didn’t see 20 or 30 years ago.”
The committee has set a goal to give money back to the high school and to leave a legacy for future students and graduates.