IROQUOIS – Seaway District High School’s 50th anniversary was definitely a success according to all who attended the event-filled two days, May 26-28, 2017. Shared memories and a lot of laughter were among the highlights of the weekend.
Principal Don Lewis headed the 50th anniversary organizing committee made up of Roxanne Backes, Sandie Decker, Carrie Gilmour, Mary Lewis, Laurie McElheran, Cindy Peters, Tania Stover and Brenda Whitteker. Along with the assistance of many other volunteers from the community, this committee welcomed home Spartans from more than five decades.
One of the major highlights of the anniversary weekend was an afternoon ceremony which welcomed six new honourees to Seaway’s Hall of Excellence.
Nominated by the community, alumni Steve Cruickshank, Dr. Matthew Goodmurphy, George Jackson, Jim Millard, David Ross and Brenda Whitteker, were honoured for their many accomplishments.
Praised as businessmen, philanthropists, educators, volunteers and innovators, all of the inductees were presented with a beautiful water colour of Seaway painted and donated by former Seaway teacher, Sarah Lewis.
In attendance at this special ceremony were Superintendant Tim Mills, trustee for the Dundas Family of Schools, Jeremy Armer, MP Guy Lauzon, MPP Jim McDonell and South Dundas mayor, Evonne Delegarde.
Seaway also took this time to officially honour several current students, nominated for either volunteer awards or character awards by their teachers, presenting them with certificates.
Following a history of the schools of South Dundas, researched and written by former teacher and student, Bonnie Adair (read by Mary Lewis as Adair was unable to attend), the honourees addressed the crowd.
Cruickshank spoke of the “great debt of gratitude” he felt for his Seaway teachers.
Dr. Goodmurphy said that there were “a lot of good memories in these halls” and expressed thanks for “the staff that inspired me to reach my goals.”
Although Jackson was in Honduras, his award was accepted by his wife Irma and his sister, Robyn, who described Jackson as “an asset to the country, to Iroquois and to our family.”
Millard praised his fellow inductees and looked to the future. “We six are just the tip of an iceberg, a Seaway iceberg of excellence: I know that hall will be filled end to end in another 15 or 20 years.”
Ross talked about the strong “spirit of this community”, one which led him to become very “involved and passionate about saving Seaway. This is a great school, and these are great people.”
Whitteker said that her time as both a student and a teacher at Seaway inspired her passion for education, particularly physical education, at all levels. “I had many leadership opportunities here at Seaway…and I’ve worked with the staff to see students achieve their very best.”
In her remarks, Delegarde, a former Seaway grad, whose family all attended the school, thanked everyone who has worked “so hard to make this anniversary possible.” She also said that she looks forward to the next “50 years of Seaway in our community.”
However, Delegarde did manage to bring the house down when she concluded her remarks with the solemn declaration to all attendees: “Remember, what happened in the Pit, stays in the Pit.”
Former Seaway grads and teachers thoroughly enjoyed visiting the detailed ‘memory rooms’ set up by volunteer “captains” throughout the school. Photos, yearbooks, newspapers, videos and other memorabilia celebrated Seaway’s five decades, as well as the history of Iroquois and Morrisburg High Schools.
The beautiful decorations, particularly in the gym for the dinner dance on Saturday evening, drew a lot of favourable comments, particularly from Spartans who had “come home” from great distances to take part in the anniversary.
The entertainment arranged for the two days was top notch. Seaway graduates Cory Coons and Emily Millard performed at the wine and cheese, while Kilts, Rifts and Spurs and Eddy and the Stingrays kept guests “hopping” Saturday night.
Under beautiful skies, families were able to take in an ecumenical service at the Iroquois Point, and to join in the family-oriented activities as Seaway’s 50th anniversary celebrations wound down on Sunday morning.
Principal Don Lewis and vice principal Tania Stover praised the hard work and dedication of all the volunteers, who spent weeks planning and running this important gala event in Seaway’s history. As McDonell put it at the Saturday induction ceremony, “Today, everyone is a Spartan.”