Proudly we hail your name
We'll fight to win you you fame
South Peace we'll be yours forever
Yours for South Peace High rah rah rah
Black, warning to our foes
Red badge of courage shows
White is right
And so we'll fight
To win for South Peace High
January 28th, 1966 Suppertime. A phone call. We drove to the school. Students and teachers stood in groups, watching hopelessly. The building fully engulfed in flames, its varnished floors and wood paneled walls, its wooden desks, its shop and gymn and library and its staff room with the mosaic table featuring the school mascot, a penguin- a room that smelled of coffee grounds and stale cigarette smoke- all ablaze. An electrical short, someone said. Fire ran down the ceiling of the main hall, said the one person who had been inside when the it started.
We returned the next day. Nothing but rubble. Firemen still working on the smoldering remains. The ground covered in thick yellow ice. The ceiling had fallen on my Dad's desk. Its contents were the only things that survived. A once conical marble paperweight, now blackened with soot. A pocket watch. Folders and files that reeked of smoke. They found those later.
The weekend was chaotic. Phone calls and meetings and searching for space. All the while my mother's sewing machine, whirring endlessly. We knew to be quiet, to stay out of the way. Something terrible had happened. The grownups needed to fix it.
School opened almost immediately with makeshift classrooms in other schools, the public library, army barracks, the curling rink, whatever public building had space. "Let it be a challenge to you," became the new school motto. On the first morning students and staff congregated in the gymnasium of the junior high down the road. They were met by a new school mascot, Palmer the Penguin, sewed by my mom.
|My brother and I , junior cheerleaders|
My family moved away.
Yet South Peace was still in our hearts.
The school where my parents met.
The school they returned to years later.
|The lawn of South Peace Senior Secondary, 1976|
South Peace Senior Secondary School.
Proudly, I hail your name.