|CHS Field Day. Dr Karl Hackstetter walking off field on right|
When Janice (Corston) Whitely started a "Chapleau High School Friends" group on Facebook, she was not intending to launch a movement towards a reunion to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Chapleau High School in 2022.
But it happened in short order, as the group passed 2,000 members by Friday March 3 within a couple of weeks. It was still growing as I wrote this column.
In the interests of full disclosure though, I was invited to join and found myself inviting Facebook friends to become members too -- and like Janice, with no thought of a reunion, at least in the beginning.
I chatted with Janice, the daughter of Irene and Charles Corston, about what happened.
She advised that what was "so funny about this" was that she did not intentionally start the group with a thought of a reunion.
"I don't know how it really got started. The fact that it has reached 2,000 people is quite amazing. My take on it is, it must be meant to be.
|This building renovated became CHS|
"I'm sure many people are interested and would attend. Chapleau was a special place and remains strong in our memories. Solid friendships helped us navigate through were formed there. I am grateful that some of those friendships are still a very important part of my life."
So, although Janice didn't plan to start a movement towards a reunion, she added that the "momentum to make it happen seems strong" given the interest in the Facebook group.
"As in previous reunions I am sure many would love another opportunity to tread those paths and spend time with family and friends who helped create some special memories," she added.
Although the response to the group has been amazing, and great interest has been expressed in having a 100th anniversary reunion five years from now, it is far from a done deal by any means.
|1181 CHS Cadet Corps circa 1926. A E 'Gus' Evans on left|
Graham Bertrand, who chaired the last reunion on the occasion of the school's 90th anniversary in 2012, and has been involved in all major Chapleau celebrations, and other major events for more than 40 years, and I had a chat about the possibility.
Although Graham is interested, he pointed out that to make it happen will require "old and new blood" who would sit on a committee and make a commitment for five years.
"It took over three years to get the last one done so commitment is a big part of it. Once involved, you can't stop now in the midst of the planning."
|The girls of CHS circa 1926|
He added that the support of the municipal council would also be required for an undertaking of this magnitude.
Graham noted that to have 2,000 names already is a big plus.
Graham would not commit to serving as Chair. commenting that "maybe there is someone that wants to chair. I have no problem working with new blood."
But he is interested as always, and "can't self appoint myself," Graham said from Florida where he is on vacation, and was expecting nine family members to join him.
|Graham at opening of 2012 reunion. MJ behind him|
However, upon his return to Chapleau, further discussions will take place. Graham says "Keep Smiling!"
Since the group was formed, and interest grew, I have received messages from folks pointing out that not everyone is on Facebook so plans would have to be made to reach beyond social media. Although I use social media, most of my Chapleau friends from my growing up years there are not using it.
In 1994, I taught my first new media course, Writing for New (Social) Media at College of the Rockies, a year before we launched our graduate program in New Media Communications.
Over the past couple of weeks, since Janice invited me to join the Chapleau High School Friends group, I have seen a great example of its positive use, as the membership grew, bringing people together who may not have been in touch for many years -- in fact in my case almost 50 years.Wow!
Let me conclude with a short anecdote about the Chapleau High School Boys Volleyball team who won a championship in the 1979-80 school year. I posted a photo of the team on the group, and in no time at all, many of the players had responded --- they were having a virtual reunion, kidding each other and chatting like they were back at CHS -- including where were their orange jackets!
|The Volleyball champs. Names Below|
The photo "brings back great memories. Still grateful... Best experience ever," one player commented. One of their fans commented: "A wonderful bunch of guys .. the source of a lot of laughter in my teens..." and much more, all in great fun.
I have included a photo of the volleyball team, and also some from the school's early years. Thanks Janice for the group, and all the best to Graham and those who will work make the 100th anniversary reunion happen. As Graham reminds us, "Keep Smiling".