NORTH SURREY — Queen Elizabeth Secondary is 75 years old this year, but that doesn’t mean the school’s storage rooms and display cases are filled with memorabilia dating back to the Second World War – quite the opposite, in fact.
A massive fire destroyed the original school building in 1967, leaving much of its history in ashes.
Accordingly, a search is on by planners of an event celebrating the school’s anniversary.
“One thing we need is older items from the school, because a lot of things were burned in the fire and then all the other old stuff is gone — you know, banners, sweaters, shirts and things like that,” said Don Cosens, who is planning the celebration event with the help of fellow teachers.
“Someone here found an old grad dress, and the old mascot from who knows when,” he added. “We have some old photos but almost no old artifacts and memorabilia, so we’re hoping someone out there has stuff they either want to donate or loan to us, to display. We’ll make sure it’s taken care of, behind locked glass.”
Months of planning by a committee of teachers will come to fruition at the anniversary celebration, set for next Thursday (Oct. 15) from 3:30 to 8 p.m. All former and current students, staff and friends of QE are welcome to attend the event; tickets are now $8 in advance (online orders), or $10 at the door.
The celebration will include music, dance, a theatre performance, the unveiling of a new art mural with a “Decades” theme, a basketball contest and more.
“We’ll have ‘Decades’ rooms, with different rooms for different decades that people can walk through on the lower level of the school and have their photos taken,” Cosens explained.
The hope is that up to 500 attendees will mingle and reminisce with others who went to school, which was built in 1940 in the 9400-block of the then-new King George Highway, as the boulevard was originally known.
The school was opened three years after the 1937 completion of the Pattullo Bridge, which brought more and more people to the North Surrey area. The original QE building contained 14 classrooms and was built on the same set of plans as Semiahmoo, its sister high school to the south.
“After the original school burned down, it got rebuilt and there have been several rebuilds here, and renovations, over the years,” said teacher Sharon Gunter. “There’s been tons of changes here.”
(Click here to see photos of the fire.)
Gunter, Cosens and 10 other QE teachers are on the committee tasked with planning the anniversary event at the school, where 1,209 students currently attend classes.
“It’s a real team effort, and we meet here and also we’ll talk while passing each other in the hall, share little updates and information, and we’ll send emails, too,” Cosens said.
“We have no budget,” he added. “We tried the city, the school district, and there’s no money to be had for something like this, and after we were told why, I understand. There are a lot of schools in the district.”
During the event, longtime Newton resident George Zaklan will speak about the school’s history.
“He said he could go on for hours about the area,” Cosens said. “We’re hoping more people like George will want to share stories, photos and even videos if they exist. It’s all still coming together, and we’ll make it happen. We’re teachers, we’re all good at making things happen.”
The alcohol-free event at the school will be immediately followed by an “after party” at Central City Brew Pub.
For event details, click here: Facebook.com/events/1032164183466383. The school’s phone number is 604-588-1258.
Click here for more school history.