Eric Hamber Prepares to Celebrate 50 Year Anniversary

Eric Hamber staff - circa 1962.

Eric Hamber Secondary has turned 50 years old and this Friday, staff, students and alumni are coming together to celebrate. For a complete rundown of the Hamber 50 year anniversary agenda, click here.

Hamber 50 Year Committee Member Andrea Nicholson says that the 50 year Anniversary offers the school community a chance to reflect on the rich (and at times challenging) history of the school.

“Hamber didn’t have an easy birth. There was a lot of controversy when students moved from King Edward High School to this new school on King Edward and Oak. There were initial staff tensions as old and new teachers were forced to work together and the new building was still in a state of real disrepair,” says Nicholson. “But out of this chaos a unique and incredibly tight core school culture was forged. It has remained at the school ever since with many of our teachers choosing to stay at Hamber for their entire 35 year careers.”

Nicholson says the tight community bond created by staff and students is one of the many things that organizers plan to celebrate this weekend.

Festivities will kick off on Friday, May 17 with tours of the Hamber Decade Rooms as well as an official opening at 6:30 where the school’s main gymnasiums will be dedicated to Bruce Ashdown and Nora McDermott.

Both Ashdown and McDermott were members of the original Hamber staff of 1962.  McDermott was a PE teacher and coached teams since the school’s opening until her retirement in 1987. During that time she held the Department Head position for 25 years. By the time she retired, she was had been inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame, Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, Basketball Canada Sports Hall of Fame and the UBC Sports Hall of Fame.

Ashdown was also a PE teacher and coach at Eric Hamber.  He came to the new school in the mid 1960s from the King Ed High team and stayed until his retirement in 1993. A great athlete himself, Ashdown shared his love for sports with his students and with the members of the 100 school teams he coached.

Following the official opening, the school community (both past and present) will also be holding a gala on Saturday, May 18th in the Auditorium from 4:00 pm to 5:45 pm. The gala will showcase a wide-range of Hamber talent, which will be parading across the stage. Organizers say the gala will gather together performers from the past to reprise their roles in a medley of songs from memorable shows such as the HMS Pinafore, South Pacific, Fiddler on the Roof among many other performances.

According to some of its students, while decades of time have passed, the school continues to be a vibrant and important learning centre.

“Since Hamber was founded world superpowers have collapsed, your cell phone became more powerful than early NASA space shuttles and 24 James Bond films were released,” wrote Zak Vescera, a Grade 10 student in a recent article about his school’s history. Hamber is so much more than a school, it’s our home. A place where students make friends, learn lessons in and outside the classroom and become the people they will be in adulthood

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