David Harper remembers doing a lot of running when he was the physical eduction teacher at Tignish Regional High School.
The site of the current Tignish Elementary School is where the former high school once stood. It opened in 1959. Prior to that, high school grades were housed in the Dalton School, where the Access PEI building is today.
Mr Harper would run from the old Dalton School to across the road to the convent (what is now the Tignish Heritage Inn) where the gym was located in the attic and to the high school on the opposite side of Church Street.
“You had to run top to the bottom,” he recalled of those days.
On July 26, during the 50th reunion of the Class of ‘69 at the Tignish Heritage Inn, Mr Harper was honoured by his former students.
Mr Harper wore many hats when he was teaching at the high school. Along with being the phys ed. teacher, he was also a bus driver, driver’s ed instructor and coach.
“He just had a good sense of humour. He was kind. He was gentle. He was firm,” said Irene Doucette, who organized the reunion.
All together, about 44 students graduated from Tignish Regional High in 1969. About 30 from Grade 12 and about 14 from the commercial class. Approximately 30, including five former teachers, attended the reunion last Friday.
Ms Doucette began the process of organizing the reunion by tracking down all her former classmates and collecting emails.
“I think I was emailing 33 people regularly for the last two months,” she said. “Some of these people I haven’t seen in 50 years.”
Shirly Mokler, who’s been dealing with health issues, said she was so happy when Ms Doucette called her about the reunion.
“I was happy as a lark and I said count me in,” she said. “It’s just wonderful to see everybody at this age and being healthy and things like that.”
Ray Malone was the principal at Tignish Regional High from 1966 to 1969.
“It’s wonderful to meet these people again,” he said. “I was very young when I was principal. I was too young. And they all knew that.”
Mr Malone said his time as principal at the school was tremendous, but admits, as someone from Charlottetown, living in Tignish at the time was a culture shock.
“It’s changed a lot since I was here,” he said about being back in the area.
Mr Malone said Mr Harper was a great teacher.
“He was personable and fair and he liked the students,” he said.
A humbled Mr Harper said he didn’t think he deserve any sort of recognition because he was only doing his job, but he appreciated the gesture.
He remembers his students the most than anything else during his time as a teacher.
“I always enjoyed the individuality of the students,” he said. “They were all individuals. They were lovely students. I always appreciated them and I think they always appreciated me and that made it easy for me to feel good about them.”