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All things EDSS certainly make for a weekend to remember

Former teacher Bill Exley (middle) shares a laugh with former students Bruce Headlam, Malcolm Gladwell, Roger Martin and Terry Martin during the alumni roundtable at EDSS on June 7, part of the school’s anniversary celebration. [Scott Barber / The Observer]
Former teacher Bill Exley (middle) shares a laugh with former students Bruce Headlam, Malcolm Gladwell, Roger Martin and Terry Martin during the alumni roundtable at EDSS on June 7, part of the school's anniversary celebration.[Scott Barber / The Observer]
Former teacher Bill Exley (middle) shares a laugh with former students Bruce Headlam, Malcolm Gladwell, Roger Martin and Terry Martin during the alumni roundtable at EDSS on June 7, part of the school’s anniversary celebration. [Scott Barber / The Observer]
Organizers of the Elmira District Secondary School 75th reunion were pleased when all the dust settled after the weekend.

“We’ve had so many positive comments from every group of students, staff, and even spouses who came up to us and said ‘I have nothing to do with this school, but I had a great time,’” Dave Conlon said.

“That’s not normal at a reunion where a spouse says it was a lot of fun, and I think that’s a measure of how successful it was.”

Mike Forler agreed.

“Overall it was such a great feeling, people were just so moved and touched and it was just a very warm fuzzy feeling. Everybody got what they wanted to get out of it, I think, because we had such a variety of events that people took away what they wanted.”

From June 6 to 8 thousands of EDSS alumni congregated to celebrate the school’s 75th birthday. The weekend’s events included a roundtable with Malcolm Gladwell, Bruce Headlam and Roger and Terry Martin, drama productions by current students, an arts presentation, dinner and dance reception as well as a church service.

Forler said guests were blown away by the quality of the program.

“All of the performers and speakers were topnotch and everyone responded so warmly.”

Things went even better than organizers expected, Conlon added.

“So many things happened that we didn’t anticipate or plan for. We invited June Petty, who was a 1941 graduate to tell a small anecdote. She got up on stage with a three-page performance that was amazing. She almost got a standing ovation, and we had no idea what she was going to say: it was incredible. So many people brought their ‘A’ game.”

Another stand-out was country music singer Giselle Sanderson who took part in the ‘Lancers in the arts” show.

“She said ‘you know, I’ve performed in front of huge crowds, I’ve auditioned in front of David Foster, but I’m more nervous going up in front of my hometown than I am going up in front of thousands of people at a concert venue,’” said Conlon, adding that she sounded outstanding in the EDSS library.

Organizing committee co-chair Melanie Austin said the goal was to “give something to every group, every age and every interest, and I think people noticed and appreciated that.”

She also recognized the important work done by community service clubs including Kiwanis, Knights of Columbus and the Woolwich Community Lions to help make the event run smoothly.

“They are experts in putting these kind of events together, and they did such a great job.”

Going forward, Conlon says he hopes the event will provide a legacy at the school.

“The goal was not to make money, but to break even, and any extra funds will be put towards the school sign out front.”

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