Golden Alumnae Back to School for 85th Birthday

The Class of 1967 celebrating their 50th reunion

On Founders’ Day, October 13, 2017, alumnae from 1942 to 1967 were welcomed back to school by student executives as they arrived to join the whole school for the celebration of the school’s 85th birthday. After assembly, there was much to share about the morning’s festivities at the Golden Alumnae luncheon.

“It was fantastic,” commented an alumna from out of town. “Everyone at the school was so welcoming right from the wonderful smile from the prefects who opened the door. It was fun to be at the 85th Birthday assembly and to see the family alumnae present grad pins. The Grade 4s were terrific with their singing of the School March and their speeches about exploration.” Another remarked, “It was all impressive – the ceremony, the singing of the School Song and general memories about an entire school being together, many of whom sat cross legged on the floor!”

Following the excitement of the morning, the Senior Choral ensemble, Ragazza, set a calm tone for a memorable luncheon with their melodious rendition of Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies. Head of School, Chantal Gionet, introduced the first screening of the 85th YHS Video featuring alumnae through the decades. Each alumna shared their most meaningful experiences from their times including words of wisdom for Yorkies today.

Grace was said by class rep, Nora (Mitchell) Newlands ’67, using the well-remembered words of founding Head of School, Mrs. Clarke, “For what we are about to receive may the Lord make us truly thankful.” Spirited conversations continued over lunch as though no time had gone by since school days. “It was quite something that after 50 years, we could reconnect so quickly and enjoy each other’s company,” mused an alumna from the class of 1967. Another felt similarly, “It didn’t feel like 50 years could possibly have passed since leaving. Oh, to be 16 again and have a couple of years in this new facility with its incredible energy and warmth.” Glasses were raised in honour of 50th through 65th reunions and there was much catching up between classmates and friends both old and new.

There was also the chance to meet some of the youngest students in the school when Junior students brought Yorkie green and gold chocolates to each table. What a wonderful surprise when young Yorkies discovered their alumnae grandmothers at the luncheon!

The day ended with a fun tour of the Senior School and the museum led by Gillian (White) Smith ’81, Parent Association President with Susannah Smith, YHS Museum Archivist and Curator. Many expressed amazement at the design of the building and what they saw—photos from their days at the school, uniforms from the early years and the discovery of the names of their whole class etched in the stairway glass.

Following the tour, alumnae left to continue their reunion celebrations late into the evening. Some were so inspired and energized by this year’s Alumnae Special Achiever, Dianne Whelan’s warmth and courage in her assembly presentation about her Trans Canada journey that they planned to return early the next morning to hear more on Alumnae Day!

Celebrating Class Anniversaries

Each year, the YHS Museum & Archives has an exhibit of photos to honour graduation anniversaries of alumnae classes.

Whether your class celebrates at the school as part of Alumnae Day or the Golden Luncheon, or gathers at another time, holding regular reunions is one of the ways that YHS alumnae stay connected and create a strong community of lifelong friends.

This year’s exhibit is now installed in the museum for the classes of 1957, 1962, 1967, 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, and 2002.

Class of 1987 is up first with their May 27th reunion. Let the celebrations begin!

Class of 2006 – 10th Anniversary

Natalee Sinclair ’06 reports: The class of 2006 not only had one, but two reunions for our 10 year milestone! The first, hosted by Dani des Roches and her parents, was a casual backyard get-together making the most of the sunny June afternoon. We even had a special visitor drop by – Ms. Boteju! As we had some girls away in the summer that wanted to attend, we had another reunion in December with some returning and new faces. This time, a more intimate party hosted by Prathna Batra, complete with a fabulous spread of potluck food choices, drinks, delicious cake, and of course Yorkie goodie bags! It was so nice to catch up with everyone and hear about everyone’s adventures over the past 10 years. Thank you to Shiva Majidi and Roxy Karim for their help with planning. We look forward to the next reunion.

Class of 1961 – 55th Anniversary

Class rep Stevie (Bryston) Mitchell ‘61 reported, “On April 17, 2017 the class of 1961 celebrated their 55th reunion over lunch hosted by Winkie (Bucholtz) Steele at her South Surrey home. A number of classmates had not been able to attend the 55th celebration at the YHS Golden Alumnae luncheon last fall creating a 2nd chance to gather for a celebration.

Thanks to the help of our head girl Vicki (Frost) Vogrin, eighteen Yorkies attended including several who left the school prior to the senior years. The weather cooperated and a wonderful time was had by all.

Everyone reluctantly headed home with promises to get together again soon. Plainly no need to wait until the 60-year anniversary!

Always a Yorkie – Golden Alumnae Return to York House

 

Alumnae from classes of 1942 – 1966 were welcomed back to school by Head of School, Chantal Gionet on September 30 to celebrate 50th – 70th reunions. The day began with a tour of the Senior School and for some it was the first time back since graduation. Much excitement ensued as classmates were discovered in grad photos and on the honour roll board in the Alumnae Art and Photo Gallery. They were thrilled to see how York House has grown since their days at the school. “We ‘Old Girls’ will never cease being in awe of the ‘new’ York House!” “The school has changed since we walked the halls of history and having that transcribed onto the current walls is very special and shows we aren’t forgotten! We were and are still so proud to be Yorkies.”

A highlight in the gallery was an exhibit of marionettes and puppets from the collection of former art teacher and founder, Virginia (Moore) Mackay who taught at York House for 38 years. All recalled making marionettes in art classes and there was great appreciation for this gift from Virginia’s step-granddaughter, Catherine (Carter) Nightingale ’76. Catherine commented, “It was delightful to talk to the women who went through school in the original buildings and to hear their memories of my grandmother and the marionettes.”
On visiting the YHS Museum & Archives, alumnae travelled back to their time at York House through the many exhibits of past uniforms, the original old houses where their classes were held, and class reunion photo boards prepared by archivist and curator, Susannah Smith.

The tour culminated with the unveiling of a new museum display case in the Gail Ruddy Foyer. This most thoughtful gift from Margaret (Shepard) Walwyn ’55, celebrates three generations of proud Yorkies including her daughter, Head Girl and past YHS Foundation Chair Catharine (Walwyn) Turner ’84, and granddaughters Megan (Class of 2015) and Claire (Class of 2017). The family recognition plaque reads “Always a Yorkie” and now treasures from the archives can be brought out for display to share YHS history and traditions with the whole community.

At the luncheon, Ragazza, the Senior School ensemble performed the old school hymn “Unto the Hills” and alumnae were invited to sing along with them for the school song, “Onward and Upward.” Fiona (Gr. 12), Saskia (Gr. 11), and Jasmine (Gr. 11) sang solos from their own repertoires. Grade 4 presented a lively rendition of the much loved “York House School March“, which was composed by the late Patty (Cochrane) Bennett ’49. Golden grads commented how they “loved seeing the junior students playing outside” while they enjoyed their luncheon. Senior School Head Girl, Maggie, and Junior School Head Girl Risa shared their favourite school experiences and the ladies let us know that “we all enjoyed it so much, especially the performances and speeches by the girls.”

Lisa (Greczmiel) Roberts ’82, President of the Alumnae Association presented Helen (Larmonth) Hughes ’50 with the 2016 Alumnae Lifetime Achiever award. Helen was nominated by her class and is the first recipient of this new Association award. Although officially retired after 18 years serving on the Victoria City Council, Helen continues to volunteer and still follows the school motto “Not for ourselves alone.” She has received numerous accolades throughout her life for her community service including the Order of Canada, YHS Alumnae Special Achiever for Community Service, honorary degrees from the Universities of Saskatchewan and Victoria, the Chancellor’s Community Recognition Award from Royal Rhodes, the Maclean Award for Outstanding Service by a Woman in Municipal Politics, a Lifetime Achievement Award from Leadership Victoria, a Generosity of Spirit Award sponsored by the Victoria Foundation, a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal among others.

50th, 60th, and 70th pins were presented and class reps and volunteers were recognized for their work in bringing their classes together and organizing class reunion gifts. The class celebrating 50 designated the Alumnae Scholarship and the class celebrating 60, the Founders Scholarship. The luncheon came to a close with the precious delivery of green and gold wrapped Yorkie chocolates by Grade 1 and 2 students.

Click here to see all the photos from the Golden Alumnae Luncheon.