QEH's Last Chance stirs deep memories

Paul McLeod
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It's a story of a black kid in a white school; it's a story of a father who wanted the black kid to leave his daughter alone.
The Last Chance Reunion of Queen Elizabeth High School this weekend brought back a lot of memories.

It's a story of a black kid in a white school; it's a story of a father who wanted the black kid to leave his daughter alone.

The Last Chance Reunion of Queen Elizabeth High School this weekend brought back a lot of memories.

For Lorne White, the now-closed school represented a milestone in his life.

White, in the class of '47, was the first black student to be elected head boy at QEH.

It was no small feat, considering the school was mostly white.

White routinely would walk to and from school with a friend, Ruth, who lived nearby.

One day, White came home and found a note to call Ruth's parents.

Her father said Ruth had come home crying that day because a group of students had been picking on her for hanging out with White.

The father told him they thought he was a great guy and he was always welcome in their home.

But he had to request that White not be seen with his daughter in public.

'Devastated'

"I was devastated," White said yesterday at the reunion.

"I was ready to go back to school and go to the principal's office and let the whole student body know what I thought of them."

But as he stormed down Agricola, he ran into the school's basketball coach, Frank Baldwin.

Realizing something was wrong, Baldwin used White's weakness - ice cream - to get him to tell what was wrong.

It was in the ice-cream shop that White got the advice that would stick with him for the rest of his life: "Lorne, do you realize how many people support you as head boy?

"Do you realize it's a small group against you? Your shoulders have to be a lot broader. You best make this something that shows how much of a man you are."

It was advice that would totally change his approach to dealing with adversity for the rest of his life.

At the Last Chance Reunion, with more than 800 former classmates from around the world gathered to mark the end of QEH, which is closing and its students merging with St. Patrick's, it came down to one common bond.

"It all started in QEH."

Organizations: Queen Elizabeth High School

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