Les Retrouvailles 2019 takes place May 17 to 19.
It’s now a locked storage room next to the auditorium. But the names of students who attended École secondaire catholique Thériault nearly two decades ago are still scrawled in magic marker are still preserved as are the superheroes and cartoon characters painted on the wall.
Lise D’Arcangelo, a Thériault graduate who now teaches at the school, recalls before Grade 13 was phased out in the early 2000s, the room was used as a lounge, designated exclusively for final year students.
“The reason for its existence was so that students had a place to go during their spare, instead of just wandering around the school.”
The plan is to re-open it when Thériault hosts its 50th anniversary reunion, and bring back some of its décor.
The reunion is taking place on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of May Run weekend.
“We’ll have it set up with the couches and the tables and the chairs and try to make it like it did way back when,” said D’Arcangelo, who graduated in 1987.
Daphne Wallbridge, a Thériault grad from 1992 who is now vice-principal at the school, said their registration numbers are halfway towards their goal of 2,000 attendees.
“We feel the really positive energy in the school already,” said Wallbridge. “I have goosebumps just thinking about it. It’s going to be lots of fun.”
Wayne Bozzer, who graduated from Thériault in 1975, attended the school’s last reunion held in 1992.
With this being the 50th anniversary, Bozzer said he is already gaining the sense this is going to be a unique event.
“I think this one has a different vibe,” he said.
Bozzer said he has been communicating with old friends and fellow grads on social media where people have been sharing photos, not only from their days at school but of the city when around the time they were attending high school.
Bozzer among the first crop of students who transferred from the Collège Sacré-Coeur on Jubilee Avenue to what was then a newly built school.
“There was that special part of coming into this big entity which really galvanized everybody, having these new facilities, the gyms, the shops, the theatre, and the sports here.
“Seeing the people of that era will be very special.”
D’Arcangelo said she has kept in contact with old school mates through social media. But she is really looking forward to seeing them in person.
“It’s just getting together and being together again and reliving those memories, to be part of something special. The 50th doesn’t happen that often,” she said. “Even with Facebook being so popular, it’s not like seeing people for real.
“I think that’s what’s going to be fun and being able to share stories and reminisce, because on Facebook, there is only so much that you can say on there. So it’s coming together and being together and not only seeing the people I went to school with but also the teachers.”
While there are plans to set up “retro rooms,” representing different decades, D’Arcangelo said they also made a point of creating opportunities for people who were involved in different clubs or sports teams at school to also meet up.
“What they have planned touches a little bit for everyone. There are the athletes, there are the artistic people, there are the musicians, the academic people who were in Reach For The Top — so there is something for everyone.
“The committee really went out of their way to plan something so that everyone has a little niche that weekend that they can celebrate, come together and reminisce.”
Wallbridge said, “We do encourage alumni to bring their spouses and their children or their grandchildren, because there are activities for kids and it’s a family-oriented event.”
Neil Bangs, who graduated from Thériault in 1998 and now, teaches at the school, concurred.
He said there are a lot of activities and events planned over the three days of Les Retrouvailles 2019 that everyone will enjoy even if they didn’t attend the school.
Asked which events he’s looking forward to, Bangs replied, “The wine and cheese that’s going to be on the Friday night, I think that’s going to be fun. The party on Saturday night is going to be extraordinary with the bands coming in. We’re going to have a lot of former alumni that are part of the lineup.”
The performers include Claude et Simon, Céleste Lévis, King Melrose, Cindy Doire and Les Rats d’Swompe.
“It’s great to see they have a great lineup of music and if there is one thing that is popular in Timmins, is if you can put on a good concert, people will come,” said Bangs.
“Saturday is going to be just like a big old party,” she said, “whether or not you were here as a student doesn’t matter because you’re going to enjoy the music and the company.”
Les Retrouvailles 2019 takes place May 17 to 19.
Those planning to attend can register online at www.esct.on.ca. The cost for registration is $75.