the blog of dan pontefract | I Missed My 25th High School Reunion That Never Was
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I Missed My 25th High School Reunion That Never Was

This week, twenty-five years ago, I graduated from high school.

Technically speaking, I’m now old.

I have no hair, I’m a size 34 waist (ok, probably 35 on Saturday nights) when I should be a 32, and the 12-, 10-, and 8-year olds parading around our home, masquerading as ‘children’ and causing irreparable havoc, occupy 134% of my free time.

As I turn 44 years old myself next weekend (hint hint, family), I consider myself at “Peak Dan”. I reckon I’ll live to the age of 88, so from here on in, there’s no going back. I’m old, and I’m getting older by the minute. As far as I understand 1st century engineering, the sands of the hour-glass don’t possess an off button.

Having been born in 1971, I’m smack in the middle of the GenX cohort age bracket. Translation? I’m halfway between contempt for all that the Baby Boomer’s have achieved (and partially screwed up) and all that is made of the Millennials via their mainstream-media depicted “saviour of the Western world” taxonomy.

I’ve become the middle child. I’m not used to this at all.

Even though I’ve been tattooed by author Douglas Coupland as a member of the GenX cohort, born between 1965 and 1981, I’ve grown somewhat weary of those in my age bracket, accurately depicted by their pessimistic, itching to outdo yet often skeptical behavior in films such as Reality Bites, Singles or Fight Club. The brooding, nihilistic and jaded attitude of many GenX’ers (but certainly not all) has become a bit too much for my liking. I think I’m ready for a brand change, but not like the disaster that was New Coke.

Because I am one of them — those cantankerous GenXer’s — it’s going to take a lot more mindfulness and meditating to undo my own DNA. (In fact, I may have to steal my son’s singing bowl.)

Part of my interest these days lies squarely with a Millennial’s disposition. This is the cohort of Earth’s citizens born between 1981 and 2000. My brother, Adam, is a Millennial, born 14 years after me to the same parents. Through his teens and early 20s, I didn’t understand why his attitude was so “half full” when he encountered life’s unpredictable yet certain potholes and storm clouds.

I’ve grown to appreciate my brother’s rather easy going attitude, and have become rather envious as he inches into his 30s and I into my mid-40s. Adam turns 30 on June 21! In hindsight, I feel as though I’ve missed out on a decade of happier times when I was in my 20s. My natural temperament was to judge and find fault and compete, arguably any GenXer’s chromosome deficiency. Adam has always been one that naturally produces smiles and understanding in both the darkest and lightest of times. He has often battled the bumps of life in the company of others, asking for assistance whenever needed. I think I’ve come a long way, but Uncle Adam and his Millennial DNA is far wiser than I was in my 20s.

Of course Denise and I are raising “goats”, too. The homemade herding is providing me with another anthropological inquiry. The “kids” are classified as Generation Z by some, born between 2001 and 2015. So far, whilst they are certainly tech savvy, they’re also exhibiting far more collaborative and sharing-like behaviours than I ever remember exhibiting during the 1980’s. Their competitive streak seems to be higher than their “blue ribbon” Millennial counterparts, but on the surface it might be that they’re a generational mash-up of Baby Boomers and Millennials. Mind you, I think it’s only the good bits.

Saltfleet High School, before it was demolished.

It brings me to a moment of recollection and reflection.

As I mentioned, twenty-five years ago, I graduated from high school.

Where the Hell is the reunion?

It’s a big deal, isn’t it? Maybe they didn’t invite me.

Between 1985 and 1990 I attended Saltfleet High School in Stoney Creek, Ontario. Back then, high school in Canada’s most populated province occurred between grades 9 and 13. The other provinces thought we were just a wee bit slow, what with their own high school tenure concluding at grade 12 and ours at grade 13. I think it just allowed some of us the opportunity to have a beer at lunch, once we turned nineteen and became of ‘legal’ age to drink. There were a few liquid lunches, I was told, on occasion in 1990.

Never me though. Never!

dairyLike any high school experience for any teenager anywhere, there were millions of fond and not-so-fond experiences to remember. There was the epic outdoor “air band” concert, first kisses at “The Dairy“, competitive euchre tournaments on spares, and practical jokes on Mr. Cann. (His first name was John, so ‘them was easy pickings.’) The cafeteria “beaver ladies” somehow mastered the art of serving extra fatty french fries and 550 calorie chocolate chip cookies, while the regal, English-bred vice-principal had to put up with my morning “radio show“. That’s right, yours truly was ‘in charge’ of the morning announcements. It came with my post as student council president. (How they let ‘me’ be president is still a mystery.)

I attended our goats’ school closing ceremonies this week. Thankfully they have been ‘promoted’ to grades seven, five and three respectively so I can put away the caning manual.

But the pomp and circumstance really got me thinking.

Why didn’t anyone organize a 25th anniversary reunion for our high school graduation year? Was it because we’re GenX’ers, brooding over life’s miseries? Was it because they bulldozed the school a few years after we graduated — apparently there is no such thing as ‘heritage status’ for 75+ year-old buildings in Stoney Creek — building a new one kilometers away? Was it because “Reality Bites“?

Were the five years of high school a forgettable experientia?

Nonetheless, twenty-five years later, I feel nostalgic and somewhat culpable. After all, I am Canadian.

There were many moments of love, happiness and learning during high school. In retrospect, that half decade was a wonderful experience. Firsts rained down like water does during a North Vancouver January. The nostalgia of high school ebbs and flows, perhaps more so now that I approach the back half of “Peak Dan“. I’m now officially closer to death than birth. Introspection indeed breeds lucent visions of yesteryear.

In 1990, I left my hometown of Stoney Creek for Montreal. A higher education degree beckoned, and I was on the hunt to marry Mitsou. By 1995 I was married (not to Mitsou) and living in the City of Glass, Vancouver. By 2011, with three goats grazing heavily and a return to ‘small town’ circling our marital headspace, the quaint hamlet of Victoria called.

When I departed for Montreal, however, I never returned to Stoney Creek. My parents moved to Ancaster — a town some 30 kilometres away — and then divorced. I never lived with them again, remaining in Montreal for summer breaks and then immediately moving West after marrying. In essence, I divorced Stoney Creek as well during the process.What a GenX kinda thing to do.

In that divorce came, perhaps, an unreasonable separation from my high school, and my hometown, and my memories.

Hence, in a moment of reflection, I feel partially responsible (culpable, indeed) for not organizing a 25th high school reunion. Sure, there’s an “Old Saltfleet High School” Facebook group, but no one from “Class of 1990” is on there, let alone chatting up a reunion party. I don’t know Darryl Buckle, but he’s like a 24-hour DJ on that site. I certainly haven’t posted anything. Speaking of Facebook, I’m only connected with a half-dozen or so people from my actual graduation year. With over 200 graduates, that seems odd to me as well.

saracenAm I being too much of a GenXer? Probably.

Can I learn from Gen Z and the Millennials? I would think so. They probably would have held a 25th reunion party. (Editors Note: ask one of your children to organize a 30th)

I’m sorry there isn’t going to be a 25th high school anniversary for Saltfleet graduates of 1990 (or 1989 or 1991, etc.) If you’re a Saracen, from whatever era, it would be great to hear from you.

Maybe one day we’ll have some sort of reunion party and reminisce about bush parties, Taco Bell lunch competitions, Mr. Baxter’s tongue (and wandering eye), “the strap”, miner niner day, typewriting, yearbook club and those legendary MC Mike DJ’d dances.

Maybe it’s a step closer to becoming less like a GenXer.

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35Comments

  • Nicole / 13 June 2015 9:33

    Dan, thanks for the piece – I agree it’s more about a state of mind and cohert of influence than when you were born. FYI, I graduated in BC (WVSS) and had a grad class of just over 100. We had a 10, 20, and will have this year a 30 year reunion. What’s with you and the quarter century? Maybe you are 5 years too early or too late? There’s still time to organize 😉

    I also heard Lord Byng has a decade long reunion just last week. Maybe the x’ers and millennial are doing it all differently. Or maybe all the records were destroyed when the building came down. Nic

    • danielletomlinson / 14 June 2015 9:28

      I think Facebook has ruined the reunion…everyone feels like they know what everyone else is up to via the book of face….that said…I was class president and will be organizing a 25th reunion, mostly because I am eternal optimist and, like you, possibly born in to the wrong generation 🙂 Cheers brother Dan!

      • Dan Pontefract / 14 June 2015 11:23

        Perhaps it has DT, but some of us GenXers aren’t even connected to high school mates there! Can I come to yours? We are overdue for a F2F catchup anyway.

    • Dan Pontefract / 14 June 2015 11:21

      Clearly an East West divide on the 20/30 and 25 issue. 😉 Here’s to us, the new GenXYZ.

  • Ann / 14 June 2015 10:15

    I was a Saracen about 3 years behind you (saw your post shared on FB). My parents still live down the street across from the Dairy and I hate driving past the empty lot. Maybe we should have a reunion at Taco Bell? Might be appropriate for a bunch of jaded Gen Xers. Thanks for reminding me of a time that doesn’t often come up in my day-to-day.

    • Dan Pontefract / 14 June 2015 11:27

      Isn’t a reunion at Taco Bell “cooking dangerously” Ann? 😉 Lovely to hear your thoughts. Great blog … we devour spotted prawns off the boat when in season out here in the West.

  • Christine Stephen / 14 June 2015 10:25

    What a great read! Your sister and I are approaching our 25th maybe we should organize something and invite you old fogies? What do you think Nicole??

    • Dan Pontefract / 14 June 2015 11:29

      Good gosh, Christine … how are ya? I’ll bring my walker (not Steve) if I’m invited. Say hello to brother Norm, if you have a chance.

  • Patti Turnbull / 14 June 2015 11:53

    Hey Dan your sister shared this blog on facebook. I enjoyed reading it. I was a couple years ahead of you at Saltfleet and the only “reunions” I know of are organized by Rich Gelder on fb informally.

    • Dan Pontefract / 14 June 2015 2:01

      Thanks Patti. I remember Rich very well, and played rugby and basketball with his younger brother, Cam.

  • Lisa Curtis / 14 June 2015 1:07

    The Class of ’93 feels your pain. A reunion would be awesome. Although, where exactly would we hold it? 🙁 No school, no Dairy. Sigh….
    But thanks for triggering some great old memories.

    • Dan Pontefract / 14 June 2015 2:03

      Great question Lisa … I suspect we’d have to rent out Battlefield House at this rate.

  • Craig Ryan / 14 June 2015 2:54

    I am not sure we can get as many tacos for 10 dollars anymore. The idea of a reunion loses some of it’s luster without the old school to go to. The reunion idea that we grew up watching in movies was from a different era. In those times EVERYBODY all had 9 to 5 Monday to Friday jobs. Today is a different story. How many people work in jobs where the workforce is minimized to the point where there are no spare bodies? Getting time where most people can get together is next to impossible now.. Although it would be great to put together.

    • Craig Ryan / 14 June 2015 2:55

      😉

      • Dan Pontefract / 14 June 2015 3:19

        Quite possibly the toughest lines I’ve read — “How many people work in jobs where the workforce is minimized to the point where there are no spare bodies? Getting time where most people can get together is next to impossible now. — in a while, given the research and thesis of my next book, DUAL PURPOSE. Hope you are well Craig.

  • Ken Phillips / 14 June 2015 3:12

    Well Danno, certainly an interesting retrospective. The new Saltfleet has completely detached itself from the old one (no more Saracens…..something called the Storm). There really is a lost decade for those of use from the 80s and early 90s. For me the loss of the school, and Arby’s and Fiesta Mall was the loss of my teen years. Don’t feel too bad about being 44…..I turn 45 this year.

    • Dan Pontefract / 14 June 2015 3:23

      “The Lost Decade” … I hadn’t thought of it that way. Surely we could fit everyone into the food area of Eastgate Square, no? 😉

  • JIll / 14 June 2015 3:27

    class reunion? What’s that? I graduated in ’77 and never heard from anyone again until Facebook came along! would love to catch up with people, those were truly the best years of my life.

  • Tara Scott / 14 June 2015 3:31

    It was great to hear your memories Dan. I remember your morning announcements well!

    • Dan Pontefract / 14 June 2015 4:52

      In that case, I’m absolutely ‘flabbergasted’ you paid a visit, Tara. 😉 All the best.

  • Glenn Cunningham / 14 June 2015 4:11

    Dan, I graduated a couple of years ahead of you. Enjoyed the article and the memories it brought back. Thanks.

  • Tara Kuzma (Skewes) / 14 June 2015 4:31

    I really enjoyed this read! I remember Peak Dan running the school, and the bush parties! lol. Thanks for this trip down memory lane!

    • Dan Pontefract / 14 June 2015 4:54

      Ahh, the bush parties. Not entirely certain what we were doing was ‘legal’, but it sure was fun.

  • Paul Shelestowsky / 14 June 2015 4:43

    Great post Dan, sums up some great Saltfeet memories.

    • Dan Pontefract / 14 June 2015 4:56

      Thanks Paul – lets not forget those biology lab coats and goggles we used to wear as well. I’m pretty sure they were a health hazard, what with layers of dried formaldehyde etched into the materials.

  • Diana MacPherson / 14 June 2015 4:52

    I haven’t visited Stoney Creek in some time. I worked at the Dairy for most of high school. It’s weird that so much of the place is gone. I graduated in ’89 from Saltfleet (as well as ’88 for some OAC/Gr 13 reason).

  • Brenda / 14 June 2015 5:41

    Very well done article. I enjoyed reading it. I was the after you.

  • Carrie Fletcher / 14 June 2015 6:09

    I would love the thought of a high school reunion. I graduated in 1986, and miss the old Saltfleet. What about meeting in the arena, some place neutral yet big enough to hold a crowd of forgotten Saracens?

  • Duane Yates / 15 June 2015 6:50

    I also enjoyed the article which definitely sparked some great memories.

    Thanks,

  • Mike M / 15 June 2015 7:13

    Hi Danno. Good article, your memory is pretty solid. Take it back ten more years I remember living close on Lake Ave.

  • Laurel Corlis Charbonneau / 15 June 2015 4:28

    Thanks Dan, great read. I graduated in ’86/’87 and have yet to hear of a reunion. My daughter started the new Saltfleet this year and I was disappointed to hear they are now the Saltfleet Storm. Mind you, in the atrium they do have a staircase that you can go out to go down, a nod to the expansion that was added when my Mom went to Saltfleet. There are still pics in some of the display cases of past sports teams and Miss Louie is still in Guidance.

  • michaeleury / 15 June 2015 6:59

    As ‘Peak Michael’ 49 and half way to 98 I attended my school’s annual dinner for ‘old boys’ (quaint?) last Friday night. It’s open for anyone who attended the school, I completed my last year at the school 32 years ago and last Friday night 39 49/50 year olds from my year at school turned up for the event. No other year group had more that 4-5 representatives, but our motley crew came along in force…why? Well we’re an interesting story of a group. Of all groups to have ever attended this school our year had the lowest ‘pass rate’ of any year before or since…and by some measure, less than half of the students passed their final year exams. (and this is a reasonably exclusive private school). Since then however those who ‘failed’ have succeeded and the experience has worked to keep the group pretty tight over many years. Of course there is the one ‘great organiser’, Danny, who has worked to keep the group connected, first by email, and now by facebook…we live all over Australia and indeed all over the world now, but we remain connected
    …maybe it’s a coincidence that you and our organiser Danny share a name, or maybe it is up to the Dans and Dannys of the world to be the great school reunion organisers 🙂

    • Dan Pontefract / 18 June 2015 1:59

      Well, the name ‘Dan’ does mean ‘judgement’, so perhaps I’m judging everyone who isn’t organizing a reunion and instead of doing so, I should just do it myself. 😉 Glad you popped by Michael, and glad to read your story. It’s wonderful. If you have another reunion in December (in Sydney or Melbourne) I’d love to attend. 😉

  • Rachel Barlow / 18 June 2015 5:19

    Well written Danny. Many fond memories out there on “Gray Road” or is it “Grays Road”…who knows. It was a great town to grow up in, close enough to Zellers so the Senior boys at the time could fulfill their animal activist rights and release those poor budgies from their caged lives. Every morning having the pleasure of experiencing Dan’s World and only hoping that the weekend events from your little sister’s life would surely not be broadcasted this Monday morning…
    All in all it was a great ride, and that ride was never better than in the backseat of the “Pony”. Hope all is well with you, D and the goats.

    Rachel

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