Class of 1982 grads Thom Wells (right)

Class of 1982 grads Thom Wells (right)

Return to VSS stirs up special memories

The hallowed halls of Vernon Secondary School felt bigger 30 years ago to Catherine Polder.

The hallowed halls of Vernon Secondary School felt bigger 30 years ago to Catherine Polder.

A proud member of the VSS Class of 1982 – Yahoo ‘82! – Polder was one of close to 125 alumni to take part in a special tour of the old school with its brick walls and lack of windows as part of the class’ 30-year reunion festivities July 6 and 7.

“It feels so condensed, somewhat smaller than I remember,” smiled Polder, now a legal administrative assistant in Vancouver.

“It’s the end of an era.”

The old school is giving way to the new VSS, which is slated to open in January 2013.

However, a proposed tour of the new facility was not allowed as part of the reunion festivities, due to liability issues.

“My understanding is the new school will be one of the most up-to-date schools in Canada, so that’s a good thing,” said Polder.

“I guess the new school is needed so I have to say, just because of that, it will be a good investment for the future.”

Herb Lafontaine was the principal in 1982.

Current VSS principal Morris Vardabasso addressed the grads (plus partners and spouses) who showed up for the tour in the school auditorium.

“Rumour is you guys want to take a brick home as a souvenir. If you do that, the school will collapse,” joked Vardabasso.

“Enjoy the nostalgia of the school.”

Vardabasso also pointed out that the new VSS “has windows in every classroom.”

Many classrooms at the existing VSS are void of windows.

Polder and the others who took part in the tour stopped along the five levels of the main building, ventured over to the gym and shops, and everybody got quite a kick out of seeing the drama department’s green room, whose walls are covered with autographs and (welcomed) graffiti.

One of the highlights was seeing the class’ grad picture hanging on the wall leading to the auditorium. Like most of the old class photos, it is fading, unlike recollections of perhaps simpler times.

“The memories are starting to come back but it took awhile,” said Polder. “The pictures on the wall are great. All of us seemed so young back then.”

For Debbie Poggemoeller (née Striker), being in VSS is a regular occurrence.

Her two daughters, Kaitlyn and Melissa, have graduated from the old brick building, and her son, Greg – if things go on schedule, as planned – will be part of the first graduating class of the new VSS in June 2013.

Still, this time around, watching old classmates gather in the halls left Poggemoeller with a surreal feeling.

“Looking down the levels, seeing groups of people my age sitting around, talking, it gave me a strange sensation taking pictures of them,” said Poggemoeller.

“Everyone was walking around trying to find their lockers.”

The weekend for Yahoo ‘82 included a wine and cheese Friday night, the tour, and a dinner and dance Saturday.

Close to 185 grads, out of a class of 500-plus (VSS was the only high school in Vernon, featuring Grades 11 and 12, in 1982), returned for the reunion weekend, which was organized by Poggemoeller, Doreen Fochler (née Markson), Marj Kuhn (Green) and Tracy Johnson (Christensen).

They were able to organize the tour with help from Class of ‘82 members Mike Sawka (teacher) and Todd Hay (maintenance), who work at VSS.

“I think everyone had a hoot. The weekend was a lot of fun,” said Poggemoeller.