Vic High grads celebrate, 50 years out

A lot of water flows under the bridge in five decades

The Vic High Titans rugby team poses for a photo. Shown are coach Don Smyth

Unlike one’s 10-year graduation reunion, when the peacocks are still strutting; or the 20th or 25th, when people are more likely to hear about kids and compare hair loss and waistlines, a 50th grad reunion has a different atmosphere, says Irene Pitt.

The former Irene Barrick, now 68, has been helping chase down fellow members of Vic High’s class of 1962 for this week’s festivities taking place at the school, the Royal Victoria Yacht Club and the University of Victoria. About 125 former students and 35 spouses are attending.

“People have some good experiences and bad experiences in high school,” Pitt says, noting those times  tend to colour one’s long-term view of school.

The beauty of reunions taking place so many years later, she says, is that old hurts or grudges are often forgiven.

She recalls convincing some people to attend the 40th reunion: “A number of them who came had not been to any previous ones – they may have felt they didn’t measure up. Some people said after that they were so glad they were forced to come. It erased all that bad experience they had in the past.”

People who have long considered high school a time to forget can find reunions almost therapeutic, she says. Not only can they let go of many of the negative aspects by reconnecting with people, reunions offer an opportunity to link up with those with similar interests.

Extending that further, the chance of a new or rekindled romance sparking at reunions is always a possibility. While she avoided naming names, Pitt says the class of ’62 has not been immune to the phenomenon.

One couple who dated in high school and later married, then divorced, came back single for their 40th reunion. Each connected with an individual from the grad class – ironically, the new partners dated each other in high school.

“Anything can happen at a reunion,” Pitt says.

A common bond many classmates share through the years is their experience on the field of play.

Rugby, while it can be brutal during games, is an especially social sport when it comes to maintaining friendships and connections with current and former players.

In conjunction with the Vic High 50th grad reunion, members of the provincial runner-up 1962 Vic High Titans rugby team are gathering Friday (June 22) at the Victoria Marriott Inner Harbour. Part of the impetus for the separate get together is the return for a visit by team member Lin (Duke) Kepner, who has lived in England since 1967.

“It was a very good group,” says ex-Titan Emil Wegwitz. “There was a lot of friendships, a lot of laughter, a lot of hanging around together. I don’t see that so much in high school now.”

The team, comprised of a combination of Grade 12s and 11s, featured such players as the Dillon brothers, Nirmal and Ranjit (later of Victoria Shamrocks lacrosse fame); Ash Valdal, who also was co-most valuable player with teammate Neil Worboys on the 1961-62 B.C. champion Totems basketball team; and star kicker and Titans captain, Ron Gower.

Events begin Thursday (June 21) with a meet-and-greet at the school starting at 3 p.m., and an appy dinner/social at Royal Victoria Yacht Club at 5:30 p.m. Lunch at the Village Greens in Cadboro Commons at UVic happens Friday at 11 a.m. If you haven’t been contacted but are a 1962 Vic High grad, call Pitt at 250-592-4318.

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