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Calling all Irish
Alumni of St. Patrick High School come together to see the school, share memories and catch up

Katherine Hudson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, June 7, 2012

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE
People are connected now more than ever before, shooting off e-mails when an old friend crosses your mind and checking up on acquaintances on social media sites. But there's something about seeing people face to face after a handful of years or perhaps decades that's incomparably special.

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Don Reid, assistant principal of St. Patrick High School, left, and Fraser Oliver, head of the phys. Ed department, are gearing up for the school's first homecoming event taking place June 16. - Katherine Hudson/NNSL photo

Next Saturday evening, alumni of St. Patrick High School will congregate at the school's gymnasium for the school's first homecoming dance. This event has been mulled over by organizers for a few years, and finally was developed into a reality a few months ago.

"We've got to do this or we're going to miss the boat," said Don Reid, assistant principal at St. Pat's.

"This year is about getting it started and next year we can fine tune it."

Fraser Oliver, the school's head of phys. ed, and organizer of the event, started building a sports hall of fame a wall of green and white, with photos and jerseys of past teams last year.

"We thought, 'What can we do to make connections to our past?'" he asked.

This alumni homecoming takes the strengthening of the school's history to a whole new level and its during the same year that the school's governing district, Yellowknife Catholic Schools, celebrates its 60th year. St. Pat's opened its doors in the early 1960s. It stood in the location of the new school's parking lot until the new school opened in 1995. For some alumni who attend the homecoming, it will be their first time entering the new school. Some remember being in a graduating class of 27 students such as the class of 1987 which had the most graduates in the school's 25-year history at the time. This year, the school is releasing 94 graduates into the world.

Oliver said he is constantly reminded that St. Pat's hold a special place in people's memories all over town and even via e-mail correspondences especially during the Wade Hamer Challenge Cup a fierce hockey competition between St. Pat's and Sir John Franklin High School.

"Why not celebrate our alumni and feel that pride? Wearing the shamrock and wearing the green and white. Because we're small here and Yellowknife is a small place," said Oliver.

He hopes contact information can be acquired from all who attend this year's first homecoming and a St. Pat's newsletter can be established relaying information to alumni about what grads are up to now.

He said he's expecting a few hundred people to the event this year. Hundreds have added themselves to the group on Facebook. One couple is cutting their vacation south short to attend the homecoming, according to Oliver.

"It's spreading like wildfire," he said.

The event starts at 8 p.m. on June 16 and runs until about 1 a.m. At 9 p.m., the trip-down-memory-lane slideshow will commence. It's being put on by teacher Gerard Landry, who is well known for his graduation slideshows. There are raffles and draws planned, some games and food and a dance.

Reid said guests can walk the halls, see the facility and reminisce about the old days.

"We're a family, people connection and the feeling of pride that you have when you're at a smaller school," he said.

Tickets are on sale at the school's office or by contacting Reid or Oliver directly.

The pair are already planning next year's celebration: June 15, 2013.

Young and old are getting excited to celebrate the school and catch up with friends and classmates. Kali Brasseur graduated in 2006 and is starting a job teaching at St. Pat's in September.

"I think it'll be a hit because up North, you still see people who you went school with but you sometimes fall out of touch," she said.

"Most of my friends who I've mentioned it to seem excited about the idea. Most of us just finished university or college. You talk about high school and it's starting to feel a little nostalgic now."

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