Mecca Glen School celebrated its 65th anniversary with a mass reunion bringing together a congregation of former staff and students.
Held at the Mecca Glen School site July 26 to 27, the reunion welcomed students from the school’s founding in 1949 to June of this year.
The event also included three extra special guests: Rhoda Vold, Betty Matejka and Martha Weiss-Kinley. “The neat part of it is we still have three of the original teachers that are still with us,” explained former student and master of ceremonies Gordon Svenningsen.
As Vold took the microphone she had an important message for those who travelled far from their childhood homes and also those who stayed in the area. “First of all welcome home.”
Vold was the first supervisor of the school and says it was the students, parents, and staff that set her life on a new course. “I never considered becoming a teacher but that’s what I decided to do.”
In 1948, the structure was finished for the 125 pupils expected in the fall; approximately 180 enrolled. Over the next 10 years enrollment grew so large that four additional classrooms were needed. On October 19, 1955 tragedy struck. “The school and most of its content burned to the ground,” said Vold.
Classes were held in different schools in the area until students could return to their school.
“Mecca Glen can now look back at 65 years of progress . . . we are thankful to have had a small part in so many of these lives,” said Vold.
People traveled from across Canada, including Ontario, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, to return to their school for a walk down memory lane.
Irene Eastman attended Mecca Glen School from 1954 to 1964 but now lives near Fort Saskatchewan. “It’s just really neat seeing everybody you went to school with.”
For Eastman, the highlight of returning was catching up with an old friend and teacher, as well as stepping back into the gymnasium where she often competed. “I used to play basketball, so it’s kind of neat.”
Whether it was just a few miles down the road or several provinces over, travellers braved the dismal Alberta weather only to be entertained by sunshine. Bashaw’s Sunshine Cloggers dance group enticed the crowd with lively dance steps, traditional county songs, as well as modern county hits and a song representing the Book of Isaiah, the Old Testament.
Former student Don Dubitz also took to the stage with his country crooning and guitar. “Don was our Elvis,” said Svenningsen.
The reunion celebration also included a sing-along, camping, a jam session, church service and a pancake breakfast.