It's the people that matter

2010 RHRH/RHDH Reunion a huge success despite lack of access to high school

Jamie Heap
Published on August 19, 2010

RIVER HEBERT - From Friday, Aug. 13 through Saturday, Aug. 14, no fewer than 160 former River Hebert Rural High/District High (RHRH/DH) alumni attended events that spanned three different communities: Amherst (Friday night "Meet and Greet" and Saturday Night "Dinner and Dance" at the Wandlyn Inn), Joggins (Saturday morning tour of the Joggins Fossil Cliffs Museum and beach) and River Hebert (Saturday afternoon "Picnic in the Tidal Bore Park" hosted by Heritage Models).

While River Hebert and Joggins make sense, at first glance Amherst does not. Why Amherst? According to Gary Purdy, chairman of the 2005 and 2010 RHRH/RHDH Reunion Committee, he was informed by way of a February 2010 email "that the school (RHDH) was going to be renovated, most likely would have either no electricity or no water at the time (early-mid July) that we would like have our reunion." Rather than wait another three or four years (anticipated completion date of the new K-12 facility in River Hebert) to "see everybody," he took it upon himself to form a committee that was interested in bringing people together this year, be it at River Hebert District High School or some other venue. The Wandlyn was available only on Aug. 13-14, according to Purdy.

While 25-50 reunion goers took part in the Joggins Fossil Cliffs Museum tour and the "Picnic by the Park, respectively (a fair number of people turned out for the big group photo in front of RHDH at noon on Saturday,) a strong case could be made that it was the Friday night "Meet and Greet" and the Saturday night "Dinner and Dance" at the Wandlyn Inn in Amherst that made the 2010 edition the huge success that it was. Why? Because of the people (such as Marvin Scott, who travelled all the way from Merritt, B.C.) who were interested in seeing former classmates and/or teachers that they had not seen in years, even if they could not gain access to RHDH due to circumstances beyond the control of anyone involved with RHDH or the 2010 RHRH/RHDH Reunion Committee.

"She (Mrs. Jeannie Brown, a special education teacher at RHDH from 1968-1978) is the reason why I came to the reunion," said Darlene (REid) Rathburn. "I lost touch of her about 10 years ago and if I didn't know anyone else here, I'd still know her." Mrs. Brown (Fillier), who now resides in Halifax, will retire from teaching at the end of the 2010-2011 school year after 43 years!

Similar sentiments and stories to the one shared above were echoed by fellow reunion goers throughout Friday and Saturday evenings.

Former RHRH/RHDH Industrial Arts Teacher Fred Jackson blessed Saturday night's meal at the Wandlyn. After the dinner, current RHDH Principal Don Gamblin addressed the crowd. The highlights of his address were as follows: "This wonderful event is a true testament to how strong the feelings about your school years are as well as

the relationships that you have formed... It is an honour to be here tonight." As for the proposed multi-million dollar renovations to RHDH, Gamblin remarked that he was "... very excited about the idea of students being educated in their own community."

A dance followed the conclusion of Gamblin's and Purdy's remarks; music was provided by DJ Dave.

At the end of the day, the 2010 RHRH/RHDH Reunion made enough money to keep on having at least another three or four more reunions over the next 15-20 years. When asked where this reunion ranks among the previous ones (1997, 2000, 2005), Purdy ranked it as right up there with the first one, if not higher.