Reflections of Ponoka: PCHS class of ‘63 returns home every five years

There is something very magic about a class reunion, a unique opportunity to get together and share the special memories after many years away from school, coming back to the glorious days of our youth, and acting just like a kid again…. if only just for a weekend.

The class of 1963 gathered in Ponoka on Aug. 29 and 30 for their 45th reunion. Shown in the picture from left to right

There is something very magic about a class reunion, a unique opportunity to get together and share the special memories after many years away from school, coming back to the glorious days of our youth, and acting just like a kid again…. if only just for a weekend.

What a treat it is to come face to face with those old classmates once again, sharing each other’s new life adventures that have occurred after the final school bell, and returning to the same schools and community where the best years of our young lives were fashioned. Those sweet little girls with the ponytails and bobby socks, and the nice young lads with their bright red suspenders and hundreds of freckles may have now changed in appearance and personality quite a bit, but they will never forget the many good times and the odd bad experience shared together along those beloved hallowed halls of learning from Grade 1 to 12.

Most of these happy-go-lucky former Ponoka students went on to pursue a wide range of occupations from nurse, to teacher, to CEO, to farmer, to doctor, to politician, to engineer, and more; and while many stayed close to home to enjoy their new lifestyles, others moved away from their favourite hometown to find their pot of gold. Now they have a cherished flock of children and grandchildren who just love to hear their exciting and often hilarious old stories of school, classmates, teachers, friends and adventures in and around Ponoka not that many years ago. Sadly, some former students and teachers are unable to attend these great reunions, while others have passed away; but their fond memories are always rekindled through pictures, memorabilia and wonderful chitchat for countless hours.

The Ponoka Composite High School graduating class of 1963 has been hosting their gala Alumni Reunion every five years since 1968. It includes a weekend of fun throughout the community, featuring tours of former schools, continental breakfast, classic alumni dance to the wee hours, class photos, a show and tell of pictures-rings-sweaters and much-much more. Friday and Saturday-Aug. 29 and 30 was the setting for the 45th Alumni Reunion this summer, with festivities centred at the Ponoka Scout and Guide Hall, and an excellent and spirited turnout of classmates, teachers, spouses and guests, as always. Among the many hours of keen camaraderie and activities there was a special tribute extended to congenial classmate Jennie Risto (Nauroth), who has diligently spearheaded the reunion festivities and spirit for many years. Needless to say, all had a good time, and everyone will certainly be looking forward to the 50th Class of 1963 Alumni Reunion in 2013.

Here are only a few of those special memories of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s (before and beyond) that many of us recall from those glorious noisy or quiet times spent at those classic hard wooden desks and around the blackboards of those friendly picture-clad classrooms; as well as the busy hallways, gyms, and grounds of our Ponoka Town and County Schools.

*There were always lots of school sports and group activities such as band, glee club, drama, and of course the always sassy cheer squad.

*Couples were an item but a lot of dates included hanging out in groups, and ‘Dutch treat’ was usually the popular Friday night outing to the local theatres. You were considered a ‘jock’ if you were one of the few students lucky enough to own a set of wheels, but the bike racks were always full.

*When I went to school the girls took shop and guys took home-ec, and we had to eat what we cooked. We took our lunch, and we ate our lunch at school.

*There was no option about dressing warm, because our wardrobe consisted of hot and cold weather clothes only. Homework was mandatory, and always had to be done before other activities, except on weekends and summer holidays.

*Fads and fashions were always changing with the times. Guys wore tight chink pants with narrow cuffs as well as white bucks or oxfords; while the girls looked pert in short sleeved blouses and sweaters, complimented by colourful neckerchiefs, brooches, necklaces and dickies.

*Next to team sports and band practice, the noisiest class was typing, where we started out with one finger and computers hadn’t even been invented yet.

*Teachers were strict in a nice way, but we respected them because they were not there to win a popularity contest, but to teach us that vital education which was the next step to the bright future. Most of us will never forget the inspiration that we always got from our special supporting cast, which included the janitors, the very patient bus-drivers, and our course our parents. I have no doubt that the keen spirit has and will always be a big part of our local classrooms, and hopefully will be celebrated at your next class reunion, when-ever it may be.


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