The WCHS Class of 1973 gathered for their 50 year reunion at the Wetaskiwin Royal Canadian Legion on July 7 to 9. (Provided by Don Odell).

The WCHS Class of 1973 gathered for their 50 year reunion at the Wetaskiwin Royal Canadian Legion on July 7 to 9. (Provided by Don Odell).

WCHS class of 1973’s 50th reunion sees major success

Over 100 people attended the event

The Wetaskiwin Composite High School (WCHS) class of 1973 took a trip down memory lane during their 50th reunion from July 7 to 9.

The event was a major success, with 126 people attending, according to Don Odell, who helped plan the festivities. There were 148 graduates from WCHS in 1973. Odell said that the turnout was 66 per cent of available classmates, with participants travelling to Wetaskiwin from Hawaii, Florida, North Carolina, Ottawa, B.C. and many from Alberta and the Wetaskiwin area.

The weekend began Friday afternoon with a high school tour organized by Rodney Lee, “who enjoyed school so much he became a high school teacher and principal,” said Odell.

A welcome reception followed at the Wetaskiwin Royal Canadian Legion.

Saturday morning, there was a golf tournament, where Bruce Pettifor and Rick Lightning’s team had the low score.

“With an eye on the aging demographics of the class of 1973, sponsors of the golf tournament were suppliers of walkers and wheelchairs, Aspen Health Care, and Town and Country Pharmacy,” said Odell in a statement to this paper.

Following the tournament, a bus tour showcased what had changed in Wetaskiwin over the last 50 years.

Highlighted on the tour were the development of the recreation grounds, which included sports fields named after WCHS teacher Norm Brown and coach and community builder Al Arner, and the addition of the curling rink and a second hockey rink. The Sports Hall of Fame included at least two classmates, Graham Kiebke and Clint Marshall and several teachers, including Bill Mojelski, among its honoured members. When the class of 1973 graduated, there was only an outdoor swimming pool. The Abousafy pool was replaced by the Manluk Centre.

“While a number of our classmates had worked at the massive Home Hardware distribution centre, those from out of town were impressed by the size of the facility and its contribution to employment in Wetaskiwin,” said Odell.

Reg Mosier provided history and statistics during the tour, which carried on to Peace Hills, the former location of high school bush parties. However, the party site is now rendered unrecognizable by the growth of the woods over time.

The group then arrived at Reynolds Alberta Museum in the middle of the Ultimate Car Show and Shine.

“During high school, many of us had part-time jobs in retail, which in 1973 meant you worked on Main Street. We drove down Main Street and talked about the great stores we worked at and how most of the independent merchants have disappeared with the evolution of retail shopping. The tour highlighted the resurrection of the old courthouse as the new City Hall,” said Odell.

A dinner and dance followed at the Legion on Saturday night, where five teachers and 72 graduates attended.

Pat Bussard shared a memorial video paying tribute to the 39 members of the class of 1973 who are deceased.

To close the reunion on Sunday morning was a pancake breakfast at the Legion.

“Feedback was that all had a great time, and it would be good not to wait so long to get together again,” said Odell.

The event ended in a financial surplus, leading to the class of 1973 donating, in honour of departed classmates, to Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools, Wetaskiwin and District Heritage Museum and Wetaskiwin Royal Canadian Legion Branch 86.