(From left) Bill Vander Zalm (graduated 1951), Keith Jackman (1953), Margarite Jackman Lund (1956), Ted Lund (1955), and John Jackman (1950) attend a recent reunion celebration at Abbotsford Virtual School. Harry Hautakoski photo

(From left) Bill Vander Zalm (graduated 1951), Keith Jackman (1953), Margarite Jackman Lund (1956), Ted Lund (1955), and John Jackman (1950) attend a recent reunion celebration at Abbotsford Virtual School. Harry Hautakoski photo

Abbotsford high school celebrates ‘88 Years at the Same Address”

Former premier Bill Vander Zalm among those at event honouring Philip Sheffield High School

On May 30, guests arrived at Abbotsford Virtual School (AVS) to celebrate “88 Years at the Same Address,” an event organized by AVS’s oldest graduate, Christine Wiebe, who completed her studies last year at the age of 75.

Students of what was then Philip Sheffield High School gathered for lunch and to reminisce about their school days.

Among the returning students was former B.C. premier Bill Vander Zalm.

“It’s great coming back to old Philip Sheffield again,” Vander Zalm said. “It’s many years ago that I attended here so it brings back a great many memories.”

There were also many distinguished school dignitaries who attended the event, including: assistant superintendent Gino Bondi, Abbotsford board of education chair Shirley Wilson, AVS principal Brad Hutchinson, and teacher Byron Carpenter, who was the master of ceremonies for the lunch. Each of the dignitaries gave a short speech.

As guests trickled in, they were greeted by AVS students, who also joined them at the tables for lunch.

“Great to be back,” said Ron Delair, who graduated from Philip Sheffield in 1950.

He also commented on the young people.

“The present generation are more engaged with adults than we were as kids,” he said.

Former classmates had a chance to reconnect with friends they have not seen in decades.

They could even relive the past by reminiscing around the school memorabilia stand.

Many of the items had been donated by former students.

The oldest individual at the event was Ernie Poignant, 99, who graduated from Philip Sheffield in 1938.

“I’m happy to be back,” he said while sitting and chatting with several young students.

The guests mingled and were served lunch and tea, while at the centre of the gymnasium a slideshow of old photographs of Philip Sheffield students played.

The event concluded with a short speech from Carpenter.

He thanked the former students for coming out, and discussed how AVS provides a unique learning environment that accommodates all learners.

The guests could then have their photo taken with old friends, and with the former premier.

After chatting for a while and taking photographs, the “88 Years at the Same Address” lunch came to an end, with students both past and present feeling more connected.

Zack Castiglia is a student reporter at Abbotsford Virtual School.