Graduating from the original Mount Doug High in 1940, Jean Levis never had to walk 10 miles in the snow to the school – not only is there not much snow on the Island, but the school was built on her family’s land.
“It was just across the field from my house,” Levis said, a statement that is still true for her today. The 91-year-old lives in seniors housing built on the same location as her childhood home.
She still won’t have a far walk far to get to the school for its 80th anniversary celebration Nov. 12.
Levis will be among the oldest graduates of the school, which opened in 1931. She can think of only two older living alumni.
Many of her old photos and articles, which she keeps carefully catalogued in albums, have been enlarged for displays about the school’s early days.
Thumbing through an album, Levis stops on a picture of the school’s first principal Bert Bailey.
“He was very handsome,” she remarked with a grin. “All the girls were crazy about him and the boys respected him.”
She remembers every time her mother baked bread, Levis would bring a loaf over to the school for Bailey.
“Those were different times,” she said. “You were like family with everyone at the school.”
In a faded photo of her graduating class, a mere 24 students stand straight-faced in two rows.
Mount Doug offered grades 8 to 12 when Levis attended.
“It was (during) the Depression and many people, especially boys, had to drop out and find jobs, so there weren’t a lot of graduates,” Levis recalled.
That changed after the Second World War, when the baby boom flooded the school system.
By the time Pat Hocker graduated with the class of 1960, there were 66 people in her grad photo.
Mount Doug had grades 10 to 12 at that time and had seen its first of several additions, including a new gymnasium.
Hocker remembers everyone in the school was assigned to one of three houses: Fraser, Skeena or Douglas. They competed against one another on the basketball court and baseball diamond at lunch hour.
“There was no going to 7-Eleven at lunch,” Hocker said. “This was out in the country, there was nothing to do but play sports.”
By 1969, the student population overwhelmed the original campus, and the new Mount Doug high school opened on Gordon Head Road.
But for Hocker, Levis and hundreds of other former students, the original school holds a lot of memories. To celebrate 80 years since the first Mount Doug opened, an afternoon social will be held at the school Nov. 12, 1 to 4 p.m.
The event will be a chance for the grads of 1931 to 1969 to visit their old homeroom, enjoy treats and refreshments and take part in an old-style dance with music and dance-steps from the 1930s to 1960s.
Tickets are $20 in advance at mountdougalumni.com/events-a-tickets or by calling 250 704-0680, as well as at the door on the day of the event for $25.