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Prince George Senior high reunion celebrates 50th anniversary

More than 300 people will come together during the school's 50th reunion this weekend.
The Prince George Senior Secondary School 50th reunion takes place this weekend with main events taking place at the Coast Inn in the heart of downtown.

The largest graduating class in Canada’s history up to that point saw 844 students celebrate the end of their high school career at Prince George Senior Secondary School in 1974.

Now, 50 years later, more than 200 of those students will gather in Prince George to celebrate during the PGSSS reunion this weekend.

“We were able to locate 70 per cent of the students,” Dan Robin, executive chair of the PGSS Reunion committee, says. 

It was just a matter of time, determination and the tenacity of a retired RCMP officer in charge of membership, with a little help from retired teach Gerry Van Caeseele, to find the class of ’74 students. And surprisingly, 52 per cent of the grads still live right here in Prince George.

The reunion events include an alumni gathering to reminisce on Friday night while Saturday night sees the gala for the grads and their guests, totalling 312 people.

The PGSSS reunion committee is using the Coast Inn to host their main events including a memorial room for the 110+ students from the class of ’74 who have passed away, including six students who perished during their Willow River canoe trip that took place on May 10, 1974. Eight classmates and friends passed away during the canoe trip including Paul Trudeau, 17; Robert Haney, 18; Dwight McFarland, 18; Brian Weaver, 18; Ian Rice, 17; David Walker, 18; Murray Sales, 18, from Prince George and Jeff Pick, 16, from the Queen Charlotte Islands.

An important piece for the PGSSS Reunion committee members is the legacy they are fundraising for by way of a silent auction for bursaries created for Prince George Secondary School students continuing their education for careers that benefit community in some capacity – social work, healthcare and the like.

“We are creeping up to 100 silent auction items and we’re hoping to leave quite a substantial amount for Prince George Secondary School student bursaries and shortfalls that the School District doesn’t get funding for – wherever the board deems it can be best used and can’t get funding any other way,” Robin says. “We want these bursaries given to the right students. We don’t want to give to the smartest kids in the school, they are already taken care of, we want the funds to go to extraordinary students who volunteer in the community, who are future leaders of the community – that’s the people we want the bursary to go to.”

The more personal goals for the reunion event is to keep the graduates connected on an ongoing basis and Robin said the PGSSS Reunion committee are determined to have an annual mini reunion.

“Because when you’re our age and the kids are grown and living their own lives – who’s left? Your friends and there’s nothing like reconnecting with people who you grew up with,” Robin smiled.

The original school was renamed Prince George Secondary School when the current building opened in 1976.