An “Epic Reunion” unfolding at his alma mater Saturday holds special meaning for Logan Kitteringham.
Put on the spot to reflect on a few of the highlights of his tenure as a student at Walnut Grove Secondary school (WGSS), between 1995 and 2000, current-day vice-principal Kitteringham said being voted loudest student in the graduating class and being a senior boys basketball player invited to travel to Hawaii with the team are definitely top of his list.
As a Glen Valley resident from Fort Langley Elementary, it was his love of basketball that motivated Kitteringham to attend the relatively new Walnut Grove high school instead of the closer fine arts school in Fort Langley.
Prior to Grade 8, he had attended a number of mini-Gator basketball camps, and described Walnut Grove Secondary as a “natural fit for me.”
It was definitely the right move for him, he recounted, noting he has never actually strayed far from the strong roots he established at WGSS.
He went on to attend the University of the Fraser Valley on a two-year athletic scholarship he earned for his prowess on the basketball court, and then continued his academic learning at Langley’s Trinity Western University for three more years – again distinguishing himself on the courts as team captain of the basketball team.
When he graduated and followed in his mother’s footsteps as a teacher, he began casting around for a position close to home.
It was WGSS’s founding principal Mary Wright who, he claimed, “pulled some strings” to get him back to his alma mater as a coach, as well as history, science, and socials teacher.
That was 2007, and Kitteringham considers himself grateful that he’s been able to remain a member of WGSS’s Gator Nation ever since, taking over vice-principal responsibilities half way through the last school year – in January 2016.
In part, it might be his new job that landed him on the organizing committee for this weekend’s school reunion.
But, again for him “it was a natural fit” because there’s no school he’s more passionate about than this one.
Walnut Grove Secondary is celebrating its 25th anniversary with an open house and “party” on Saturday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be a special memory celebration and time capsule event held at 1 p.m.
These festivities, Kitteringham explained, have been a year and a half in the making, and it’s been a project most of the school’s 1,920 students and its 150 staffers have jumped behind.
Since its inception a quarter century ago, WGSS has differentiated itself in large part because of all the programs and extra-curricular activities and clubs that continue to foster a strong sense of community – which have ultimately tied students and staff together through all the different years and generations, Kitteringham said.
Now, many of those Gator Nation members – himself included – will be returning for a few short hours Saturday to share in what made the district’s largest school “so successful,” he said.
Kitteringham noted that he’s not the only person on staff with deep ties to this school.
“There are a surprising number of alumni” who are teaching at the school, he said.
“All of us want to return… it speaks volumes to the quality of the school,” Kitteringham added, noting that at least a dozen of the staff have also enrolled their own students in the school, anxious for them to be part of the Gator culture.
As well, he noted, there are still at least 10 staff members at WGSS who were there from that “very first year.”
He’s apparently excited and a little nervous about tomorrow’s celebration.
“I think, for me, it is about stopping and reflecting on what successes the school has had in the past 25 years,” Kitteringham said, and he believes above all else it has been the people.
“It’s a time to pause, reflect, and document…” but it’s also a time to come together and reconnect.
“Twenty-five years is a long time, and there have been a lot of tremendous people through our doors,” he said. “I don’t want their stories, their memories, and their successes to be forgotten or lost.”
Asked about one memory that stands out more prominently for him than all the others as a WGSS grad, Kitteringham pondered. It was the basketball team’s tradition of bleaching their hair blond for the trip to Hawaii. They all looked funny, to say the least, and friends and students alike today still rib him, saying it was the bleaching all those years ago that have earned him his follically-challenged status today.
He looks forward to hearing many such stories on Saturday and “celebrating the rich heritage of the school.”
His next big challenge will begin immediately after the reunion, when he starts pulling together all those memories, stories, highlights, and photographs – merging them with all the tidbits of information that have been shared in emails and on Facebook – to create a digital timeline for the school.
The plan is to eventually have the electronic document – a snapshot of the school’s past – accessible for anyone walking in the doors of Walnut Grove Secondary.
CAPTION: Now vice-principal of Walnut Grove Secondary, Logan Kitteringham, was voted loudest in his grad class at WGSS in 2000.