Reunion brings former classmates together

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By Mick Jensen

There were a few absentees, but many in form 3L who started at Ashburton College 50 years ago have enjoyed an overdue reunion.

The class of 1970 reunion brought 23 of the 31 pupils together over the weekend. It was enjoyed so much that another reunion is planned in five years.

As well as sharing some fond school memories and reminiscences, the former school mates toured the grounds and classrooms of their alma mater.

Reunion organiser Jane Hurley (nee McCloy) said the get-together had been long overdue and needed to happen.

The reunion brought three from Australia, and others from around New Zealand. For some, it was the first time they had seen each other for 47 years.

“There are just five former pupils living in Mid Canterbury these days, but we used social media and went online to track people down,” Mrs Hurley said.

She said three from class 3L had died over the years, four had been unable to make the reunion and just two had not been tracked down.

“We were the top band class all those years ago, but we were also a little bit naughty at times.”

She said pupils had enjoyed lessons together for three years and the L in the class name was short for Latin, a subject they were forced to endure.

The class teacher was Cliff Bezar, the school principal of the day was Owen McDowell and there were around 1600 pupils in the school.

The reunion started with drinks on Friday night at Somerset Grocer and was followed by a bus trip to Methven, Rakaia Gorge and around Ashburton on Saturday.

A tour of Ashburton College classrooms and grounds brought back plenty of memories for the former classmates.

“The buildings were mostly as we remembered them, and the corridors the same, but there were no nice wooden lockers like there were in our day,” Mrs Hurley said.

She said class 3L’s former home room had been demolished and was now part of the current staff room.

“It’s just really hard to believe our school years happened 50 years ago. They were good years and everyone from the class has gone on to do their own thing.”

One class member was a vet in Alice Springs, another, like herself, was a nurse, while others had chosen careers like teaching and farming.

Former pupils, with some partners and former college science teacher Peter Bain (now 88) shared a dinner on Saturday night and stories of school and life over the past five decades.