W. E. Thompson teachers recall school days

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The coat hooks may be gone, walls ripped down and tiny toilets made tall, but no amount of structural change will deconstruct the memories of W. E. Thompson for teachers who once worked at the school.

About 50 teachers, many now retired, reunited at the former school building to kick off their Old Boys Reunion celebrations last Thursday.

A smaller group of about 20 former teachers, who meet every two months for lunch, came up with the idea at their last get-together. They organized through word-of-mouth and phone calls, and gained access to the former gym and assembly hall to meet.

The gym has not been used for a school function since W. E. Thompson closed in 2002 due to declining enrolment. The municipality bought the building in 2005, and began leasing it to AMEC NCL a year later.
The company, which trains nuclear workers for the Bruce A restart, has invested heavily in refurbishing the building.
"It's a beautiful facility," said one of the organizers, Betty McLeod.
But not everything is different.

"This room really hasn't changed much at all," Anne Eadie noted about the gym. She taught at the school for 20 years until 1992.
She recalled senior students performing HMS Pinafore on the stage. Another time, with a younger class, her students' shoes were off so they could don costumes for the Christmas play. Suddenly, the fire alarm buzzed and they had to hustle into winter weather with sock feet.

"The parents were not pleased," she remembered.

"We had great staff and great kids. We had great memories," said Eadie.
"It was such a cohesive, fun place to be," said Elaine Emmerton, who taught from 1978 to 1998. "It's pretty exciting when you look around and see all the generations (of past teachers)," she said.

The oldest, 102-year-old Jessie Robinson remembered starting to teach kindergarten three years after the fire-ravaged school was rebuilt in 1952.

"I went to the kindergarten room (today) and it's changed a lot," she said, mentioning a piano and play area long gone. "I don't think I could teach there anymore. It's different altogether," she said.
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