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HSSS grads reunite after 32 years

Old friends are familiar faces reminisce over days gone by

Attending the Howe Sound Secondary School (HSSS) reunion was an absolute must for many of the over 200 people who congregated at Quest University on Saturday (June 26).

About 275 old friends, flames and teachers met in the university multipurpose room adjacent to the cafeteria to mingle, recollect embarrassing and hilarious high school stories and exchange email addresses with one another.

With a pile of old year books scattered around a few tables and a constant line up at the bar, there was no shortage of reminiscing for graduates from the graduating classes of 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1981.

Organizer and 1980 grad Sarah Ramus started thinking about a reunion last fall, and quickly decided she should include her brother's class of 1979 and her best friend's class of 1981 in the mix.

"I thought, if I can do that then I'll have everybody that I want there," she laughed.

Eventually the guest list grew to include grads from 1978.

Ramus said she was extremely surprised with the turnout because a few weeks ago, only about 150 people indicated they'd attend. Then two weeks ago, more and more graduates started sending RSVPs.

"People who said they weren't coming showed up," she said.

HSSS grads from as far away as Australia and Texas made an appearance as did a few dozen Sounders who currently live in Ontario, and countless former students who live in the Lower Mainland.

Ramus said it's not strange to see so many familiar faces because she's figured out who's who with the help of the Facebook group.

"Through the Facebook group I'm able to recognize a lot of faces, but there's probably only three [people] that I went 'OK, remind me'

"It's going to be hard because you don't have time to catch up with everybody but you can get email addresses," she said.

"It's not strange at all because we're from a small town."

The evening included a traditional Squamish Nation welcoming drum ceremony by reunion attendee Alice Gus, speeches and skits thanks to a few brave alumni. Former HSSS teachers John Gilmour, Peter Hotston, Frank Baumann and Leo Hubner mingled throughout the crowd while old friends and classmates bumped into one another at practically every turn.

"I can't get from A to B without seeing someone," said 1978 grad Keith Tetachuk.

"You can't get five feet down the hall in 20 minutes because you're shaking a hand or kissing somebody you don't know."

The gas well testing supervisor based in Grand Prairie, Alta. said he's looking forward to seeing everyone including all of his old girlfriends.

"There isn't a person here that I dislike. They're all wonderful. I grew up with all of these people.

"We're like a family here."

Jeff Cyr, a Squamish resident who works in Coquitlam said he's looking forward to seeing classmates who've moved away over the years, like Randy Gilmore who lives in Lillooet as well as the Tetachuk brothers.

"I haven't seen them in 15 years," said Cyr, a 1978 grad.

"It's a blast"

Lori Foote, 1981 grad, said there was no way she could miss the reunion because she has so many fond memories of high school and because it was her best friend Ramus who organized the party.

"I have great memories of growing up in Squamish and great memories of my high school. I wouldn't have missed it," said Foote who lives in North Vancouver.

Powell River-based Glenn Holstine had initially decided not to attend the reunion, but he changed his mind.

"My good friend Sandy Sherlock convinced me at the last minute," said the paramedic.

"He picked me up in his 1968 Camero in Comox and I had a white knuckle ride all the way to Squamish.

"It's been fantastic," he added.