It was a celebration for the ages as both École Riverside School and RD Parker Collegiate/Thompson High School celebrated their 50th birthdays over the weekend of Sept. 28 – 30.
Riverside kicked off the festivities on Sept. 28 with a large assembly inside the school’s gym, welcoming students from the past to come in and take a trip down memory lane.
Photos from decades past were posted up in the hallways and a slideshow was shown inside the gymnasium throughout the assembly.
Former École Riverside student Dr. Ginette Poulin, now a family physician and registered dietician, spoke at the assembly and said t was such an honour to be invited to speak.
“It’s very nostalgic and seeing all of the generations and people that have contributed on various levels, from the teaching to participating as students as well as the new ones to come,” said Poulin.
She also noted the bond that was created with having some of the current students recognize her from her work as a physician.
“It’s just so special to see some of the students’ faces light up when they see me and recognize me and to see me in their school where I used to go to school, it’s a special bond,” said Poulin.
École Riverside Principal Rob Fisher said that the assembly went very smoothly, thanks in large part to a lot of prep work and assistance from volunteers.
“We kind of wanted to piggyback on the high school reunion, we knew a lot of people would be coming back for that, so we thought they might want to also come back to their elementary school,” said Fisher, “I’m really glad to see the number of people that came out to see the school, we got a lot of great support.”
Saturday was a jam-packed day for the former R.D. Parker Collegiate students. The day kicked off with a breakfast, followed by tours of the school itself, a lunchtime barbecue and then a tour of all of the elementary schools.
A classic car parade was held as a bit of a twist on the typical city tour, followed by cocktails and then the grand gala held inside the newly christened Bill Comaskey Wellness Centre inside of the Thompson Regional Community Centre.
Volker Beckmann, one of the event’s main organizers made note of how great the centre looked and what it means to the community.
“I think the community is going to realize that there are so many more uses for this facility than just a track or gymnasium,” said Beckmann.
In total, 306 former RD Parker students made it out for the 50th anniversary celebration, many still living in Thompson, but others coming from as far as Ottawa, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, and Newfoundland.
“It just gives you such a nice feeling,” said event organizer Brenda Redman, “there’s no place to grow up rather than Thompson, Manitoba, that’s the place and it’s the people that make the difference in this community and we’ve shown that.”
Beckmann beamed with pride about the work done by the committee and all the volunteers involved, thanking Jamie Weller from the Juniper Centre for all his work in catering the event. While Beckmann raved about the work done by all those involved, he lent much of the credit to those who actually came out and attended the event.
“People have been coming up to Brenda (Redman) and myself to say thank you, but the only reason that it worked is because they came,” said Beckmann, “if there had been nobody here, it wouldn’t have mattered how much work we did.”
The weekend-long event wound down on Sunday with church services and a trip out to Paint Lake. Those who wanted to take part in a round of golf were treated to some unseasonably warm weather before returning to town for a private mix and mingle at the Burntwood Hotel. A farewell breakfast was held Monday.
All money raised from the event will go back in to the high school and will be used for the Letkemann Theatre.