It was the spring of 1974, and amidst a flourish of paisley shirts and feathered hair Brookswood Secondary (at that time only a junior secondary) finally opened its doors to its first cohort of students.
But before the year was out, students — thrilled to have a building to call their own after almost a year spent sharing facilities with the H.D. Stafford student body — would rally and go on strike, setting the tone for the 40 years of school pride still to come.
“We wanted to set a standard,” said Keely Marshall, who was in Grade 8 during Brookswood’s first year. Marshall had the chance to reminisce lightheartedly about the protest with school friends and former teachers during Brookswood Secondary’s 40th anniversary celebration, held Saturday, April 26.
During the event, attendees enjoyed an alumni basketball tournament, school tours, fresh chili and refreshments courtesy of the parent advisory council, catch-up time with current and former staff as well as entertainment from the current Brookswood jazz band and theatre members.
According to Marshall, it wasn’t longer lunches or less homework on their list of demands, but a simple request for a second math teacher, to take pressure off overcrowded classrooms.
“That’s why we did it … we were so proud to get into our school, we really felt it was part of us.”
The students succeeded, and another math teacher was added.
Plenty more stories of high school hijinks and heroism were had Saturday, as four decades of alumni filtered past hundreds of blown-up yearbook photos chronicling the school’s vibrant history.
According to Michelle Allen, a Brookswood Secondary alumni who also teaches at the school and helped organize the anniversary celebration, plans were in the works for the event for more than a year.
“Forty is a big deal. Everybody celebrates their 40th,” she said, adding that the school also hoped to use the event to help reconnect with the local community.