Reunion group makes plans for plaque in memory of fallen soldiers

Danette Dooley
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The Prince of Wales graduating class of 1947 is working on a new class project. The group recently got together for its 50-year reunion where friendships were renewed and memories resurrected among about 65 of the graduates.

"We all started school in 1947. We were the baby boomers; 120 of us. There were three classes of 40 when we graduated in Grade 11 in 1959," says June (Rose) Bennett one of the co-chairs of the reunion's organizing committee.

Former Prince of Wales College student June (Rose) Bennett holds a photo of the graduating class of 1959 taken during the recent reunion. - Photo by Danette Dooley/Special to The Telegram

The Prince of Wales graduating class of 1947 is working on a new class project. The group recently got together for its 50-year reunion where friendships were renewed and memories resurrected among about 65 of the graduates.

"We all started school in 1947. We were the baby boomers; 120 of us. There were three classes of 40 when we graduated in Grade 11 in 1959," says June (Rose) Bennett one of the co-chairs of the reunion's organizing committee.

During her graduating year, Bennett held the distinction of being the head girl prefect at Prince of Wales College - located, at the time, on LeMarchant Road in St. John's. Reunion organizing committee co-chairman Earl Howell was the head boy prefect in Grade 11.

Howell says his graduating class is now working towards erecting a plaque at Beaumont Hamel from proceeds of the reunion.

The plaque will be engraved with the names of fallen soldiers who were former students of Prince of Wales College and Holloway school.

"We all either went to Prince of Wales in kindergarten or Holloway school. And by about Grade 6 we were all at Prince of Wales," Howell says.

The reunion, which took place Aug. 7-9, drew more than 100 people including former students and teachers.

People came from as far away as British Columbia, Britain and parts of the United States, Bennett says.

Prince of Wales College was a private school.

"When we started most of the teachers came from Britain. The school was run by a board of governors. I know my parents did without to send me there," says Bennett.

While she says discipline was strict under the British educators, students attending the school received a great education.

When she and her classmates were in Grade 2, Bennett recalls, a Canadian principal was hired.

Sherburne McCurdy was a passionate advocate for school spirit, she says.

Under his leadership, daily morning assemblies became an important part of the school day and is something which could help strengthen schools today, Bennett says.

"The minister would be there and the principal. And that's what bonded us. It gave us our school spirit," she says.

Louise Dawe was valedictorian of the class of '59.

"Prince of Wales got its name because the cornerstone was laid by the Prince of Wales when he was here in 1919," she says.

While the school was ingrained in two religions (United and Presbyterian) Dawe says religion wasn't as strong in the school as people assumed it to be.

"The religion instruction that we got was not the catechism, but a biblical history and a discussion of social problems," Dawe says.

Dawe refers to the education she and her classmates received at Prince of Wales College as "a liberal education."

"We got a healthy dose of Latin, math, science and English. But there was almost an equal emphasis on sports."

Back in her school days, Dawe says, there was also a certain amount of sexism shown by those in charge.

"Girls heading to university had to take Latin and the boys physics. We had one girl in class who fought and was able to get into the physics class," she recalls.

The school provided many opportunities for students to excel, not only in sports and academics, but also in creative endeavours such as art and singing, Dawe says.

"Our school promoted volunteerism and we belonged to the Junior Red Cross. ... My class had boys in it at various stages and by the time we reached Grade 11 every class was a mixed class," Dawe says.

Bennett sums up the comments that she says were expressed by many during the reunion. "Our motto has always been, 'friends in youth know each other's souls and remain united in heart.'"

danette@nl.rogers.com

Organizations: Prince of Wales College, Holloway school

Geographic location: Britain, LeMarchant Road, St. John's British Columbia United States

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  • Ruth Ann
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Prince of Whales ? Are you kidding me? The very first sentence and no editor caught the spelling error? Shame, shame!

  • JK
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    Your story opens as follows: The Prince of Whales graduating class of 1947 is working on a new class project. It should actually read The Prince of Wales graduating class of 1959 is working on a new class project.

    As far as I know, there is no school called Prince of Whales, and when referring to a graduating class, you use the year in which they graduated. Bravo, editors!

  • Ruth Ann
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    Prince of Whales ? Are you kidding me? The very first sentence and no editor caught the spelling error? Shame, shame!

  • JK
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    Your story opens as follows: The Prince of Whales graduating class of 1947 is working on a new class project. It should actually read The Prince of Wales graduating class of 1959 is working on a new class project.

    As far as I know, there is no school called Prince of Whales, and when referring to a graduating class, you use the year in which they graduated. Bravo, editors!