Staff and existing students at Walnut Grove Secondary school (WGSS) have been working tirelessly for weeks now to get the school into shape for the 25th anniversary party happening this Saturday.
It’s been a quarter century since the school opened, and it has seen literally thousands and thousands of students graduate, including former WGSS student, turned teacher, turned vice-principal Logan Kitteringham.
Now, those members of what they call Gator Nation – both past and present – are being invited back for what Kitteringham has called an “epic reunion.”
“We are calling it the ultimate reunion and open house,” he said, noting that the celebration will be Saturday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Come see how we have changed,” he said, pointing to a renovated courtyard, a solar-powered classroom, a video green room, a laser engraver adn 3D printer, as well as murals and graphics in the main gym as features past students might appreciate seeing.
But there’s more to the anniversary festivities. It will feature a display and artifact room, guided and self-guided walking tours of the school, a first-ever alumni basketball tournament, live music (including a performance by a former student band Little India), plus a photo booth, bouncy castles, and free hotdogs and ice cream.
In advance of this weekend’s celebration, WGSS set up a Facebook page with all types of info. Plus, they’ve encouraged WGSS grads to share where they are now.
The response, Kitteringham said, has been incredible, with past students sharing not only updates on their own lives, but favourite memories of going to WGSS.
“People seem excited and there is a buzz because we have never put together a reunion or open house like this before in school history,” he said.
“This highly ambitious project has been in the works for over a year. I would say that some of the highlights include the support from local Walnut Grove business such as Buy Low Foods who is donating hotdogs, Save-On-Foods who donating ice cream, and local realtor Danny Evans who cover some of the advertising costs.
“The other highlight is how the current WGSS staff and students have rallied behind the cause… we have well over 50 staff who have significantly contributed to making the event happen, all going above and beyond the call of duty driven by their passion and love for this special place,” Kitteringham said.
“I have been very inspired by how many of our relatively new staff have jumped eagerly on board. Furthermore, I have been blown away by how many current students want to help such as from our Pride Club and Humanitarian Club.”
In preparation for the anniversary, there have been inspirational vinyl quotes installed on the steps, the courtyard and library have been renovated, and much has been done to beautify the school and ready it to show off to the world, he explained.
Caption: Construction of Walnut Grove Secondary in March of 1991.
How it began
Twenty-five years ago, some in Langley wondered if the new secondary school in Walnut Grove would ever be finished.
They broke ground on the $15-million school in early 1990, with expectations it would open in September 1991 for 900 students.
But, the project was plagued with problems, leaving some wondering if it would ever happen. Others in that era called it a ‘bad dream.’
Well, it did finally open eight months behind schedule with principal Mary Wright at the helm, Kitteringham explained.
It didn’t have a gym until February 1992, and students and staff were forced to find some creative ways to cope while running between 14 portables.
That was just the beginning of the school’s affiliation with portables, forced in the mid-1990s to create a portable city of 25 units to house the ballooning school population, before the first addition came in 1996-97 (capacity 1,450), and the second expansion followed in 2000-01 (cap. 1,750).