The AESS class of 1969 reunited at the Elks over the Fall Fair weekend for their 50th anniversary.                                 (Contributed)

The AESS class of 1969 reunited at the Elks over the Fall Fair weekend for their 50th anniversary. (Contributed)

Agassiz’s class of 1969 celebrates a 50-year reunion

The graduating class came together over the Fall Fair weekend at the Elks club

It had been 40 years since the 1969 graduating class of Agassiz Elementary Secondary School had seen each other.

In 1979, just over 30 former classmates from the high school gathered at the Elks Hall to revisit old memories and get reacquainted with each other. But although the class tried to get other reunions off the ground, it never worked.

For the 50th reunion, however, Nanda Polman, Anne Te Brinke, Marlene Sand and Michelle Wheeler were determined to make it happen.

“That’s why it was such a great evening,” Te Brinke said, sitting at Sand’s dining room table after the reunion. “Because it’s been so long since a lot of us have even seen each other.”

According to Te Brinke, Polman was the instigator of the reunion plans. She had called up Te Brinke one day to chat, reconnecting with old friends, and in their conversation brought up the idea of another reunion.

Te Brinke brought the idea up with Sand, and in February, the three women began planning — pulling Wheeler, who had organized the 10th anniversary reunion, in for the ride.

In just a few months, the students from the Class of 1969 — as well as some who had gone to elementary school at AESS but graduated elsewhere — were at the new Elks club over the Fall Fair weekend to celebrate 50 years since leaving high school.

RELATED: Agassiz Fall Fair celebrates 115 years of fair fun

“Everybody had a really neat story of what they’ve been doing, and how their lives have changed,” Sand said.

For some people, changes had been small. A number still lived in Agassiz, or nearby, and there were even two couples there who had been high school sweethearts.

Others came from far away — with one coming from Quebec to attend the reunion.

“There were people that came from the Okanagan and Prince George,” Sand said. “So that was a really nice feeling to know that people were still so interested in getting together.”

Of course, time had made other changes. Some classmates had passed away, and the passing years had left their mark on others.

Jim Coulter, the valedictorian for the class back in 1969, was the emcee for the evening and gave his valedictory speech for the crowd once again.

“He had his grad picture, and when he started his valedictory, he said ‘Remember, this is not me,’” Wheeler said, then mimed holding a grad picture in front of her face. “‘This is the person that wrote this.’”

Change had also crept through the town in the years since they were in high school.

RLEATED: Flashback to 1960s Christmases: Can you help us fill in our collection gap?

“I think we just are the luckiest generation ever to have gone through Agassiz,” Sand said. “It had always been kind of isolated because the bridge isolated us from everything … People didn’t just race off to Chilliwack in those days.”

“We had the freedom of riding our bikes anywhere in town, doing anything,” she continued. “Going down to the river, you know, wherever we wanted to go. It was wonderful.”

That idyllic childhood, which Te Brinke, Wheeler and Sand all remembered, was one of the things which they said helped maintain that feeling of closeness among the graduating class — even 50 years later.

“I think, growing up in Agassiz, you get to be a little bit closer anyway,” Sand said. “In those days especially, you knew where everybody lived.

“And so after 50 years, all getting together, we just still knew each other.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


The AESS class of 1969 at their 10 year reunion in 1979. (Contributed)

The AESS class of 1969 at their 10 year reunion in 1979. (Contributed)

Just Posted

Russell Jonathon George Gurney was last seen in Chilliwack in mid-December. (RCMP photo)
RCMP ask for help to find missing Abbotsford man last seen in Chilliwack

Police and family are concerned for the well-being of Russell Jonathon George Gurney

The Harrison Hot Springs village office, as seen from the back. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)
Harrison village staff to get additional office space

The village has agreed to spend up to $75,000 of the COVID-19 Safe Restart Grant on a new portable

Harrison Hot Springs kindergarten students held a peaceful protest Monday (Jan. 18) to end separated recess. The protest was inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. and his lessons of non-violent action. Check out page XX for the whole story. (Dustin Neufeld/Contributed)
PHOTOS: Harrison students launch peaceful protest against playground division for MLK day

The kindergarten students negotiated with the school principal to enable recess on both playgrounds

Ottawa serial killer Camille Joseph Cleroux died of natural causes at Abbotsford’s Pacific Institution on Sunday.
Serial killer housed at Abbotsford’s Pacific Institution dies of natural causes

Camille Joseph Cleroux announced dead on Sunday, known as notorious Ottawa serial killer

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Most Read