I graduated from Central Colchester High School located in Onslow, Nova Scotia in June, 1968. Our yearbook was called The Spartan “68 and it brings back many memories as I go through it. Below are my comments about particular parts of it that involve me, a member of class 12-C.
The inside front and back covers are pictures of EXPO in Montreal in 1967. There was a school trip to Expo which I did not go on because I was saving my money in order to buy a car. EXPO was part of the celebration of Canada’s 100th birthday.
My favorite teacher, Arthur Macumber. I do not clearly remember what subject he taught but I do remember why he wrote “To an able politician, best wishes” in my yearbook. While I never became a politician, I have had a lifelong interest in politics. I remember the “radical periods” each Friday during his class, twenty minutes during which any student was free to express any opinion on any topic. I was one of several very active participants. This was true learning at its best, teaching students to be engaged in the world and to think for themselves. In hindsight, this was remarkably progressive for a rural school in Nova Scotia in 1967-1968.
Another teacher who wished me well was Wayne Foster. In 2011 we reconnected and we have traded a couple of emails since. I hope to reconnect with other students and teachers who I knew during my high school years.
It was a tradition to sign and make comments in each others’ yearbooks. It is fun to now reflect on those comments.
Stephen MacCabe wrote “Stay Canadian, John. Viva liberalism! N’est-ce pas!” A few of us were interested in discussing politics. As a youth and into my thirties I was quite conservative. But I changed radically at mid-life and have been liberal and progressive ever since.
I datedRosalie Harrington a few times after high school, during the winter of 1968-69 if I remember correctly. I remember going skating with her at the Stadium on Friday evenings and that the tune Alley Cat was always played. I remember other wonderful evenings at her home in Glenholme where I learned to play the card game Hearts. I remember her grandmother was extremely sharp at that game. Her father was a customer at the Bank of Nova Scotia where I was working as a teller. For some time after Rosalie and I decided to stop dating, he continued to seek me out at the bank and invite me to Glenholme to play cards. I got the impression that he was disappointed that Rosalie and I were not becoming a couple. If I remember correctly, Rosalie was working with developmentally disabled people and had a talent for that very difficult type of work. I have never heard anything about her since leaving Nova Scotia in 1969 and can now only wonder how her life has been.
Bill Rankin wrote “Remember Reach for the Bottom” and signed it “Rank William”. We were colleagues on our school Reach for the Top” Our team did not do well and to the best of my memory we won in round 1 but were eliminated in round 2. I remember Bill as one of the smartest kids in our class and I wonder how his life has gone.
Philip Talbot did not make a comment in my yearbook. But I remember his willingness to give me a ride from time to time. Because I was so young in Grade 12, I did not get a drivers’ license as quickly as many of the other students.
Gordon Burris, wrote “Let it not be said you were not there”. I saw Gordon once forty years after high school on one of my trips home to Nova Scotia. He had become much more conservative than the Gordon I knew as a teenager and I had become much more liberal than how he remembered me.
Patsy Sutherland I remember very well because she was the first girl I ever dated. I took her out to a fantastic Irish Rovers concert in June, 1968. I tried in vain to get a second date with Patsy but her level of interest in me was zero. I didn’t get it at the time but I sure learned along the path of life that no one would ever mistake me for a ladies’ man.
I was part of class 12-C so this is the section of the yearbook with the most comments.
Here is the explanation of the “Watch out!! Someone, sometime, is going to defeat you at you own game, n’est-ce pas?” comment made by Peter Bates. After my older brother graduated from CCHS I became the strongest chess player at our school. Peter desperately wanted to beat me but it was rare that he did. I didn’t think the Chess Club was worth joining and challenged the club to determine who their best player was and have them play me. I don’t think anyone in the Chess Club ever won a game with me. Peter and I played many games of chess during noon hours and I remember that many other students regularly made fun of the chess players.
I remember David Allen as a good friend throughout high school. He was one of the very few classmates with whom I shared my difficulties with bouts of depression as a teenager. Most of my classmates had no idea of my state of mind and would probably be surprised to learn about this.
I remember that Dana Croft was not a good student. Many years later I learned that he had quite a successful career as a teacher and later as a school principal. As teenagers we have little awareness of the potential of others or of ourselves.
Joan Pender wrote “No more arguments John”. Even then I liked discussions which must have sounded like arguments to those not so inclined. Joan was another girl that I once tried to date but without success.
Brian Job wrote “Vote Liberal June 25th John” and that date proved to be historic with the election of Pierre Elliott Trudeau as Prime Minister of Canada. Forty-five years later I can say that Trudeau is the Prime Minister I most admire of those who have governed during my lifetime. Gordon Burris was horrified by my perspective during our visit together a few years ago.
Bill Lavender wrote “Best of Luck in Sunny California” and he was aware that I had applied for admission to Ambassador College in Pasadena, California. Neither of us could have imagined how that story would unfold. I go into considerable detail about this in My Spiritual Journey.
Maureen Pettigrew wrote “…keep those radical periods going” which I discussed at the start of these comments.
Debbie Townsend wrote “Keep your feet firmly planted upwards John…” and little did she realize the brilliance of her comment. As a teenager my feet were certainly not solidly planted on the ground. Did she know me better than I knew myself or did she merely stumble into the truth?
Paul Mahaney wrote “Here’s to P.M. Trudeau. Ha! Ha!” as he and everyone were no doubt aware of my preference for Robert Standfield. I still think Standfield would have made a good Prime Minister. However, in my view, Trudeau was a great Prime Minister and although he had some significant shortcomings, all things considered I think he was very good for Canada.
Natalie Townsend wrote “…Watch out how you rip your clothes John” and here is the story behind that comment. One noon hour I had my leg draped over a desk and when I put my leg down my pants caught on a jagged edge. My pants ripped open up to my crotch. While I hid in the wash room, Natalie graciously took my pants down to the Home Ec room and sewed them up well enough to get me through the rest of the day.
I liked Natalie a lot during high school. During the summer of 1968 we dated a few times and I remember going out to the family cabin at Cape John. I remember taking her home after a date to her house in Valley where she again lives today. Natalie married a good high school friend of mine, Allan Wellwood. Allan had a career in the RCMP and worked his way back to Nova Scotia where together they are enjoying their retirement. Allan looked me up once while I lived in Edmonton and again while I was living in Calgary. In more recent years, my wife and I have had several wonderful visits with Allan and Natalie. They are a very fine couple.
Linda Wilson wrote “Keep your opinions” and I remember that we had many discussions during noon hours.
The yearbook committee selected the tag line “A radical is a man with both feet firmly planted — in the air” which describes how I was perceived by my peers. In the write-up they added “No matter what the subject, John is usually is ready with an opinion.” In some ways we change a great deal after high school and in other ways we change not at all.
My line in the Class Prophecy was “John S. and Allan W have teamed up and formed the STOKWOOD RIOT SOCIETY.” My line in the Last Will and Testament reads “John Stokdijk leaves for sunny California.” but while that was my intention at the time, thankfully that never happened.
Lynn Wright wrote “Never cease to disagree, John.” Again, in some ways we never change. Remembering Lynn, I remember an incident from grade 11 algebra class. Lynn was cute and I liked talking to her. One class after receiving back a test, I was completely turned around in my desk chatting with Lynn, who sat behind me. The teacher, Mrs. Withrow, stomped across the room shouting “John Stokdijk, unless you made 100% in your test you have no business sitting there talking”. I ignored her “What did you make in your test?” she demanded. 100%, which was true, I replied. The class roared, the teacher was dumbfounded but I had to turn around anyways.
To me, one of the most surprising stories to come out of CCHS is that of Robert McNutt. Who would have ever suspected that his career would be that of a church pastor? My older brother Bill married Robert’s older sister, Bonnie. I have hoped to see Robert during one on my trips to weddings of my brother’s children, but our paths have never crossed since high school.
Overall, looking back I am impressed by the number and variety of organized activities during our high school years. These activities were an important part of a good education. The decline of “outside activities” is unfortunate, in my view, and reflects the direction in education that its primary purpose is career preparation. In my view, the primary purpose of education should be preparation for life and for the development of good citizens.
I made a pdf copy of our yearbook and have made it publicly available to everyone. I hope to receive some comments from some of the people I knew in high school. Please feel free to share the link with anyone you think may be interested. The link is embedded in the image below. Please note that the file is a big file and may take a while to download.