It was the late 1930s and people were flowing into Surrey, eager to make the Vancouver suburb their home.
There was only one school for teens – Surrey High School – and as it became overcrowded, many students were forced to bus to New Westminster to attend classes.
Finally in 1940, two new high schools were opened: Queen Elizabeth Secondary and Semiahmoo Secondary.
Desperate to accommodate the influx of families into the community, the school district even opened the doors to Queen Elizabeth Secondary a little early, having students attend every other day for the first couple of months because construction wasn’t quite complete.
Now, three-quarters of a century later, the school remains, bustling with students on King George Boulevard where it was first built. (Though the structure is not the original, thanks to a 1967 fire).
Next week, QE is celebrating its 75th anniversary and all students, teachers, staff who attended the school between 1940 and 2015 are invited to mark the milestone.
The evening celebration is Thursday, Oct. 15.
Co-organizer Don Cosens isn’t certain how many people are going to show up, but says he’s heard from lots of former students, several of whom attended QE during the school’s first years.
“We’ve got a guy – George Zaklan – who’s going to speak, as well as a few others from back then,” Cosens says. “I’d really like to see 500 people.”
The festivities will start at 4 p.m. by showcasing the talents of current students. The high school’s dance team and drama group will take the stage, and sports, academics, music and writing will also be highlighted.
While the entertainment continues, graduates from of each decade will have the opportunity to meet up in specific rooms, allowing for plenty of reminiscing and photos.
An official ceremony is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. and the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of B.C., is expected to attend.
There are also T-shirts commemorating the anniversary available for $15 and an after-party planned at Central City Brew Pub from 8:30 p.m. onward.
Tickets to the anniversary event are $8 in advance (at https://www.picatic.com/event14301815218356471) or $10 at the door.
There’s also an event page on Facebook.