Reflections of Ponoka: Our graduation days are never to be forgotten

This is that most glorious time of the year for the welcome arrival of spring as well as for the most gala celebration of graduation days.

The Ponoka High School graduating class of 1948 shown. Back row: Merville Erven

The Ponoka High School graduating class of 1948 shown. Back row: Merville Erven

This is that most glorious time of the year for the welcome arrival of spring as well as for the most gala celebration of graduation days. Thousands of young students have joined together for decades with classmates, families, and friends to enjoy their successes of achieving the first phases of education and will now proudly look forward to the excitement of the future.

While Ponoka schools are handing out those coveted high school diplomas, the still vibrant Ponoka Brick School Grade 12 class of 1948 is having fun making plans to host their 65th reunion in August here in the community where they grew up. Organizers of the weekend reunion festivities, which will feature a delightful Hawaiian theme, are pleased that 18 of the 29 members of the 1948 Ponoka High School grad class have already confirmed their attendance for the event.

The commencement exercises for the PHS class of 48 was held on June 11, 1948 at a well decorated Ponoka Elks Hall on Chipman Avenue. Highlights of the magic evening included Invocation by Rev. F.A. Peako, chairman’s remarks from principal Howard L. Larson, greetings from school superintendent H.R. Ross, and the address to the graduands by the Honorable Ivan Casey. Jean Gordon was the class historian, Flora Park was the valedictorian, and special presentations to the class were made by teachers Miss McPhie, Miss Hanna and Mr. Galvin. Vocal selections were provided by Miss Willda Stagg and Harold Brulhart and following the recessional, a gala dance was held until the wee hours.

A time to share the memories

Attending class of 1948 grads and their partners will be treated to a busy but casual weekend in Ponoka, with lots of time set aside for special meals, socializing, singing, photos, and sharing nostalgia and special memories of those glorious days of learning more than 60 years ago.

Tours will visit the Fort Ostell Museum, the Centennial Centre, and of course the hallowed halls of the now historic Brick School.

The Aloha party atmosphere, at a pace that everyone can keep up to, will feature colorful and cool Hawaiian costumes and special prizes, as well as pineapple bowling, Aloha bingo, and all the snappy moves to go along with the action of a real good time among old classmates and long-time friends. Here are some of the special memories that some of those 1948 grads shared with this old Ponoka News freelance writer, who by the way started Grade 1 at the Brick School only a few years after this fun bunch graduated.

• Don Macleod: Coming from a small town school like Tees in the Forties, I had never been in such a large school like Ponoka. While somewhat concerned about going to school, we were unpacking when a nice young lady came over and introduced herself. She was a student at Ponoka High School and offered to accompany me to school as well as to introduce me to the principal and some of the students. This helped me to overcome my fear of going to such a large school. Who was she? I don’t remember. And so I was introduced to a really terrific group of students, the class of 1948. To her, and all of you, thanks for being a part of my life.

• Verna Cerveny (Raycraft): The arts being more my forte than the sciences, I found classes that involved lab work beyond my comprehension and consequently my attention was centred on keeping my lab partner amused. One day after making the colleague disturb the class with a loud giggle, Mr. Galvin, the teacher uttered, “Verna, if your experiments were as effervescent as your personality, you’d receive much higher marks!” Chemistry classes were held in the basement of the Brick School, phys-ed included tumbling and acrobatics in the hallway, and there were always lots of scrub games and other activities out in the playground.

• Harold Gordanier: Back in the high school days of World War II and the post-war years, we kids didn’t have modern arenas for hockey so we made do with outdoor natural ice rinks. Nor did we have fancy heated indoor swimming pools, so my buddies and I decided that the Battle River was a great place to swim. We found a private area and named it the “Bad Boys Beautiful Bare Bums Bathing Beach.” It is too bad that the teens of today don’t have the privileges that the class of 1948 did. Those were the days when everybody knew everyone and there was lots of respect for each other and our teachers!

• Joyce Bednar (Hageman): “My mother made my grad dress out of a parachute and it looked great!” Many of the country kids started out their education adventure in those tiny one-room schools, and come rain or shine we either had to walk to school, or could maybe ride our horses, double or triple style. Some of those great old teachers were Mrs. Larsen, Walter Kaasa, Don Hoare, Jean Martin and Miss Grant, who read us romance stories about Grier Garson!

At the time of their graduation ,many of the men of the community and district were just coming back from the war. In those days many women couldn’t work after they got married, there was no maternity leave, so they were mostly stay-at-home moms, and lots of part-time employment. There were also no computers but everyone had to eventually adjust quickly, and live through the changes.

Those wishing more information on the Ponoka High School Class of 1948 65th Reunion are urged to contact Verna Raycraft at 403-783- 5396 in Ponoka.

Welcome grads, and have a great time back in the old stomping grounds of your youth.