Heather Warner was a student when East Pictou school first opened in 1952.
In 1956, she took a business course in the school. In May of that year, the principal came to her class and asked if there was anyone who could fill in as secretary for the school for the month of June.
At the end of the month, the principal, Bill MacGregor, turned to her and asked if she might like to try it for a year.
She stayed for that year – and then another 43.
“One month lasted 44 years,” Warner likes to quip.
Every morning was busy as students bustled into class. It’s something that Warner has missed since her retirement in June 2000.
“I enjoyed it,” she says. “There was so much going on. You dealt with students. You dealt with parents. The community. Everyone.”
This year is the last year the school will be operated as a school. Students currently using the building will be consolidated into Frank H. MacDonald Elementary school. In anticipation of the closure, a reunion is being planned for July 19 and July 20.
Warner is planning to be there and said she looks forward to talking with past students and colleagues.
It’s doubtful that anyone has as much history in that building as her. For four decades she watched it evolve. It wasn’t just the changing student population each year that she saw change. She worked for nine different principals during her time there. Even how she did her job changed.
“The big, big change was the introduction of computers and all that,” she said.
When she had started they were using manual typewriters. Those were then replaced with electric typewriters and finally computers.
She remembers thinking when they were first introduced, “How can you ever learn all this?”
“At that time the teachers gave you the results, you had to put them on the report cards and enter them all. Now the teachers do it themselves.”
Warner said it wasn’t an easy decision to retire but she knew it was time.
“When someone would say to me, ‘my grandmother went to school with you,’ I figured it’s time to get out of here,” she said.
A large party was held for her retirement. Also the west wing of the school was named in her honour.
Warner still runs into students on a regular basis at the school, but she looks forward to the opportunity to see them all again in July.
There will be plenty of stories to tell.
“I enjoyed going to work every day. It was just like a second family to me.”
The East Pictou Rural High reunion will be held the weekend of July 19 and July 20 and organizers already have a busy schedule planned.
Municipality of Pictou County Coun. Don Butler said this will be a gathering for all former students, custodial and teaching staff as well as bus drivers.
A commemorative book is being published which will capture highlights of the school and feature human interest stories of people and events which made the school great. Souvenir items will be for sale.
Those who are interested in the reunion are encouraged to visit the site, EPRH-Together Forever on Facebook. As well, tickets for the various programs being planned can be purchased through this site.
Following is the reunion schedule:
1 p.m. – EPRH Alumni Best Ball Golf Tournament, Glen Lovat Golf Course, Fraser’s Mountain. Pre-registration is mandatory.
6 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. meet & greet, East Pictou Rural High School, cafeteria. This a 19+ event
6 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. Class reunions (assigned classrooms in the school)
7:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. Kitchen Party with host Comedian Peter White (Class of '03), East Pictou Rural High School Gym. This is a 19+ event.
11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Open house at EPRH. Entertainment on outside stage by past students. Washer toss competition. Teams to register beforehand. Food trucks. Photo opportunities with special backdrop. Sale of souvenir items. This is a family day.
4 p.m. Closing ceremonies. Outside stage.
9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Rink dance featuring Rawlins's Cross (with opening act River Rats) at Ivor MacDonald Memorial Rink, Thorburn.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit facebook.com.eprhtogetherforever.