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Forty years later, YK's high school students reunite

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It may be the first 40th-anniversary high school reunion ever held in Yellowknife.

Over June 20-23, École Sir John Franklin High School and École St Patrick High School classes of 1979 will meet to share memories, tour their old stomping grounds, and take in the summer solstice and National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations.

Caroline Kasteel Bowler, chair of the organizing committee, told Cabin Radio her graduating class still has a strong connection, even decades after their lives branched in different directions.

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Kasteel Bowler is coming from Edmonton for the reunion. She said people will travel from across Canada and even as far as Saudi Arabia to attend.

She’s hoping at least 50 former students will make it to the reunion, from an estimated total of 115 people who graduated from the two high schools that year.

“We had a great time growing up together,” she said. “It wasn't just about school, but it was about living in the community of Yellowknife and creating that bond.

“And that's what keeps drawing us back together.

“We have a lot of fun talking about how we grew up in Yellowknife and what our experiences were. And we all have different experiences. It's really neat to come together and relate those experiences together.”

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As Rob Meckling of Red Deer said, “I grew up in probably one of the greatest small towns you can possibly grow up in.

"Yellowknife is near and dear to my heart,” he said. “I can tell you about all the great things that happened in my life but probably the greatest things are the people that I got to meet and know.”

Yes, toilet paper involved

One memory that stands out for Kasteel Bowler is the time her grad class toilet papered a teacher’s house on graduation night.

“We had a group of friends and classmates who decided to crash the teachers' party," she recalled.

“We took rolls of toilet paper, went over to their place, and even snuck into the basement without them knowing. We toilet papered some of the inside and we toilet papered their trees and their cars.

“One of the guys went up on the roof. The teachers finally caught on and came out and they were laughing. Everybody just had a really good time, it was a lot of fun.”

Others from the class of '79 were more cautious is sharing stories.

“I was trying to think about stories that I could share, but everything that comes to mind probably wouldn't be appropriate for your audience,” said Yellowknifer Kathy Brown.

“You know, I used to think we were so innocent in those days. But now I'm amazed at some of the adventures we got tangled in back then. And I'm really glad we didn't have selfie mode.”

'Really connecting'

“This 40th seems to be special because of our stage in life,” said Kasteel Bowler, calling it "a milestone."

“We're 40 years out of high school, which means most of our kids are grown and out of the nest," she said. "Things like this are more important to us than maybe they were when we were busy raising kids and having that busy kind of lifestyle.

“So this seems to really be connecting with people, especially some who haven't been back since high school.”

Brown, who still lives in Yellowknife, said she’s looking forward to seeing everyone notice the changes to the city over the past 10 years.

“I'm looking forward to seeing classmates and friends from far and wide, because a lot of people have left town. And it's fun to catch up,” she said.

“After 40 years, many of us are grandparents now. So I'm sure there'll be a lot of photo sharing.”