Long before it was known as Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary, LTS, or Tweedy, it was just simply, Surrey High School.
And next year, the school that was once Surrey’s one and only high school will mark a major milestone indeed – its 100th anniversary.
A special centennial reunion is planned for spring 2012, and organizers are hoping to spread word far and wide to former students, teachers and staff – wherever they are – to attend the big celebration.
Not much else has been finalized yet, except the date: June 2. But organizers say word needs to reach former students who live far away so they can nail down their travel plans now, should they wish to attend.
“So many students have gone away from the area, and gone abroad,” notes Alan Clegg, chairman of the Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary Alumni Association.
Comprised of former students, teachers, and even some parents, the alumni group formed in 1992 in order to organize a reunion back in 1993.
That’s the year LTS moved into its current home, the red brick building at 180 Street and 60 Avenue built on the same site as its 1956 predecessor.
The ‘92 reunion was a chance for former students and staff to have their last look inside their alma mater before it was torn down.
The big school reunion was such a success, former students said, “We’ve got to keep doing this,” Clegg explains. At a second school reunion in 2000, the alumni association pledged to put on a celebration for the school’s 100th anniversary in 2012.
As word spreads, Clegg hopes those who live in far-flung locales – some of his own classmates now live in Toronto and California – will hear about the 100th anniversary and think: “You know, I’ve been planning a trip back home to see family and friends in good, old Cloverdale, and I’ll make it next June and combine it with my school reunion.’ That’s what we’d like people to do.”
The invitation goes out to anyone who attended SHS or LTS as a student, principal, teacher, secretary, custodian, or bus driver.
He emphasizes no one needs to have formally graduated or walked across the stage as part of commencement ceremonies.
“If they’re wondering should I go? Yes, yes, yes!,” says Clegg.
The same goes for somebody who didn’t complete Grade 12 and finished their studies in night school, he says, his voice dropping to a conspiratorial whisper: “We…don’t… care.”
Individual grad classes are also invited to organize their own class get-togethers or socials on the Friday or Saturday night, or the Sunday afternoon of the June 2, 2012 weekend.
“Some classes keep getting together on a regular basis,” he notes.
“Other classes have no core people that do it, and they don’t get together at all.”
He hopes both types will be inspired to make plans for 2012.
The centennial celebration will take place at the school, while reunions organized by individual class groups will have to be located elsewhere.
It’s that connection
Lord Tweedsmuir school has grown since Clegg’s day, when there were a cozy 60 students in his 1960 grad class.
These days, there’s about 240 in each year, he says, pointing out that’s still small enough for students to get to know everyone in their graduating class by the time Grade 12 rolls around.
Like Cloverdale, the school has retained its friendly, small-town roots, despite being surrounded with so much growth elsewhere in Surrey, says Clegg, whose three children also graduated from Lord Tweedsmuir.
“You can tell I’m enthusiastic about the school today,” he says.
It’s not hard to find multiple generations of LTS grads living – and working – in Cloverdale.
On a recent summer morning, Clegg rounded up current vice principal Rick Hugh (Class of ‘72) and Cindy O’Brien Hugh (‘76), who works in the school office, for a photo op. The Hughs are alumni, current staff members – and husband and wife.
“Both our fathers went to Lord Tweedsmuir as well, and our kids,” says Hugh, who also taught at Cloverdale Junior Secondary, which merged with LTS in 1993.
“A lot of kids I taught in the ‘80s are now sending their kids to LTS.”
Lord Tweedsmuir is special, he says, because it’s retained that connection to the community as Surrey has grown.
Like many Cloverdalians, as a child Clegg can remember attending Cloverdale Elementary School at 17857 56 Avenue, which opened in 1923 (it’s now home to Cloverdale Traditional School), replacing the 1912 Cloverdale Public School next door, rechristened Cloverdale Superior School in 1917, the year of its first graduate.
Before 1912, Surrey students attended high school in Langley, New Westminster, or Blaine, WA.
Students came to SHS from all over Surrey, but Cloverdale was hardly the edge of the known universe; it was a bustling centre.
Some students took the bus or rode bikes to get to school while others rode horses or were whisked into Cloverdale Station on the Interurban, an electric passenger train.
Still others took room and board in Cloverdale Monday to Friday, heading home on weekends.
Surrey High was Surrey’s one and only high school until 1940, when the school board opened Queen Elizabeth and Semiahmoo schools.
That year, Surrey High School was renamed to honour Lord Tweedsmuir, John Buchan, a Scottish peer appointed Canada’s Governor General in 1935.
Buchan died before completing his term, but won great admiration from Canadians for traveling extensively and visiting so many parts of the country. A dashing adventurer, novelist and author, he championed literacy, Canadian culture, and a distinct national identity.
In 1957, the Surrey School Board opened a new school up the hill on 180 Street and 60 Avenue, site of the newest incarnation of Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary, which opened in 1993.
It merged with Cloverdale Junior Secondary School, built in 1965 and which is now home to Martha Currie Elementary.
That’s a lot of schools – and lot of history.
But remember to save the date: June 2, 2012. There will be more details to follow in the coming weeks and months.
Meantime, stay tuned for more details in the Cloverdale Reporter.