ASSINIBOIA - As the saying goes, “Home is where our story begins.” That was the message shared by thirty classmates who gathered Oct. 21 in Assiniboia to celebrate their 40-year Class of 1983 reunion. Pride was evident in attendees knowing that the town and the school was a big part of making them the people they are today.
Casual discussion at a summer wedding in 2022 prompted a group of ACHS alumni, class of 1983, to organize a 40-year reunion. Classmates Hali Booth, Patti Batty, Dorrell Weal and Rynae Fjeldberg took on the task of planning a high school reunion. The Class of 1983 have held previous reunions in 1993 and 2003.
The internet was unheard of in 1983, thus so was social media. However, the quad group of female classmate reunion planners say that Facebook was a great tool as it helped them reconnect with many former classmates when setting up the event and inviting friends.
Fjeldberg says after only four weeks of promoting the class reunion through a Facebook forum, 51 of 63 members of the class of ’83 were contacted.
Thirty people attended the reunion event, happy to gather once again and for those who no longer live in the community, it was a chance to marvel at the changes that have taken place in their former school and home town. Including spouses, there were 51 in attendance. Two classmates who were travelling at the time of the reunion sent their wishes through the group’s event page.
Three ACHS 1983 alumni were the farthest travellers arriving from various communities in B.C.
The Southern Cruisers Car Club was the host location for the Friday night social, as several of the former students and/or spouses were members, allowing them use of the venue
Saturday was a full agenda with the committee having an opportunity to showcase the simulation room at the new Southland Co-op Centre arena. The Assiniboia Museum was also a tour option as was the Shurniak Art Gallery, which was not in place when these classmates graduated.
Assiniboia Composite High School is always a highly anticipated tour stop for any school reunions and Fjeldberg said “Principal, Brent Chadwick did a great job of updating visitors on all the new programs and projects going on at the school”
Chadwick says, “I took visitors on a 30-minute tour and many were surprised at changes made over the years to keep up with the times. I always love to host these tours to showcase what we do at ACHS; how much alumni support we have and it is a good PR move as many alumni classes support our fundraisers.”
Fjeldberg and Batty say 16 alumni of the Class of ’83 had children graduate from ACHS.
Principal Chadwick adds, “There are lots of different things to see for returning students and a lot of memories there based on what people had been part of. Forty banners now adorn the gym from athletic achievements as well as other banners ranging from athletics to academics. There is much to celebrate here.”
The Class of 1983 also got to see the ACHS Wall of Fame that was started in 2010 with nine inductees currently included in this space of honor. Nominations are accepted at the school and tenth alumnus will be inducted at graduation in 2024.
ACHS has a show case that includes highlights from their past, recognition of former students and other accolades that looks to the past of the school’s rich history since opening in 1962.
The evening held a catered meal held at the Prince of Wales Centre with alumnus, Todd Moneo, giving a tribute to graduates who have passed on, with Hali Booth creating a beautiful memorial table set up with their photos.
It was as if time stood still as guests embraced the opportunity to reconnect at the social that followed the meal. It was also an opportunity to share their lives with their fellow classmates that may have included children and grandchildren, careers and retirements and providing an overall picture of what their life has entailed since graduation 1983.
“We did hear good comments on how Assiniboia has progressed over the years when other small towns have died following school closures. Many good comments on the rink and how it has brought in several main events. I even heard that one graduate from BC say that retirement to Assiniboia is a very good option with low housing costs and favourable amenities, “said Fjeldberg.
“My highlight was just seeing everyone so happy and grateful just to be there. Many attendees said their “hearts were full” after the reunion.”
The organizing committee said some comments received following the event: “I am proud to have spent my most influential years with such a great group of people”, “I am so proud of my fellow graduates, the lives they have had up till now, and the grace with which they have handled not only their successes but their setbacks as well”.
Organizer Patti Batty says of comments she received, “They were very impressed with Southland Co-op Centre, and that the new arena did not even feel like they were in Assiniboia. Attendees were also very impressed with the museum and the art gallery and remarked on the many memories evoked touring ACHS.”
Batty adds, “We were fortunate to have the Assiniboia businesses open their doors to us and accommodate the Class of ’83 touring their facilities.
The reunion’s organizers say that out-of-town classmates were impressed by Assiniboia and how much it has progressed since they left home. Those Class of 83ers who remain in the community are proud of their town and also proud of how much it has progressed since 1983, and were happy to showcase some of the additions.
Assiniboia Mayor, Sharon Schaunberg adds, “We love to see all of those past students continue to ‘come home’ for their reunions. Our community welcomes them with open arms and encourages all reunion goers to see for themselves how we have gown. Assiniboia is, and will always be your home as you are part of the “Heart of the Golden South.”
In the spirit of community, organizer Patti Batty says after paying their reunion expenses, any money left over will be donated to the new child care facility in Assiniboia, Golden South Childcare Centre.
A wise saying encompasses the feelings of those who attended, stating, “Home is a place where your feet may leave but your heart will always be.”