| Aug 21, 2008

Feature Article - August 21, 2008

Back toHome

Feature Article - August 21, 2008 Sharbot Lake High School 60th AnniversaryBy Jeff GreenIt takes a bit of imagination to connect the picture of the modest one-storey building that was Sharbot Lake High School when it opened in September of 1948 with the jumble of pieces that make up the high school today.

The five-classroom school, which was built for $90,000 and was intended to accommodate 70 students (128 showed up on opening day), has undergone three major renovations and at least three minor ones since then.

The one element that has given continuity to the Sharbot Lake High School for the past 60 years of change is the people who have attended there, worked there, and who are still involved in one way or another with the school and the community it serves.

Those people will be celebrated when the SLHS community gathers on Saturday August 30 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the school.

Back in the 1940s, some of the people who were instrumental in getting the school built were Nina Simonett, H.J. Thompson, and Dr. C.H. Whytock.

Others, such as Don St. Pierre, became synonymous with the school over its first 50 years. Don was a grade 11 student when the school opened. After graduating he went on to teach at Sharbot Lake until his retirement in 1988.

At the 40th anniversary celebration in 1988, as he was prepared to retire, Don wrote in his own imitable style about that fateful day, September 6, 1948.

“The first ten minutes of that morning I shall remember the rest of my life. I was standing beside Tom Seargent, and on my right side a girl who had a relative working for, or who owned ELIZABETH ARDEN cosmetics. She was a walking bottle of ether. Little did she or Tom know that I had allergies galore, and when I started to sneeze and break out into a rash, Tom knew some god-awful thing was happening. I gasped to breathe, and Tom, who was three times bigger than my self, hauled me half out those windows. I had made and found a true friend.”

From the beginning, the facilities at the high school were limited, and as the educational expectations for a high school expanded during the second half of the 20th century, the inadequacies of SLHS become more and more apparent. Under the fist school principal, Clinton Babcock (1948-53), two expansions took place. Two classrooms and a wood shop were added in 1950, and in 1953 a new wing was added, creating three new classrooms, a gym (now the cafetorium) and a principal’s office.

In the early 1960s, under Marcel Giroux and Frank Dodich, a $546,000, 11-room addition was built. It was completed in 1965 and also included a library, three technology workshops and the current gymnasium.

Since then the school has seen only one major change, the addition of the current library/resource centre, the northern enrance and an elevator, which were built in 1995.

Two years ago, SLHS was designated by the Limestone District School Board as “prohibitive to repair”, which means it would cost so much to bring the current building up to modern standards that it would be preferable to build an entirely new facility.

A review will be undertaken this fall of the so-called “northern” schools in the board, which could shape the future not only of Sharbot Lake High School but of its four feeder schools as well.

As the 60th anniversary of SLHS approached, a group of current and retired staff members, as well as a number of former students who still live in the area, decided to get together for a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the day Don St. Pierre almost suffocated because of an overly perfumed girl. Hopefully, Don himself will come from his home in Perth to share in the festivities.

On Saturday August 30, former staff and students will fill the rooms and halls with great memories of the past 60 years. The day will start off at 11:00 a.m. with a barbeque hosted by the Masons. All are welcome to attend. School tours and decade room will be open until 5:00 p.m. Opening ceremonies and cake cutting will take place at 2:00 p.m.

At 7:00 p.m. the halls will rock again with an open mic coffee house. Former staff and students will be performing. Some entertainers who will be performing are: Jim Kirkham, Murray White, Neville Wells, Jim MacPherson, Gary Giller, Marc Giroux, Jeff Dowdall, Mitch Barker, Terry Reynolds, Diane Whan, and many more, all backed by a great house band of Joe Shaw, Mark Elliott and Gary Parks. If you have any questions or wish more information please contact Dianne Lake @ 613-279-2991

Three days later, on Tuesday September 2, the doors will open to welcome all the students and staff to another school year. Some of these students will be the third generation to attend Sharbot Lake High School.

Support local
independant journalism by becoming a patron of the Frontenac News.