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BCTF Advantage

Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 20, Number 5, March 2008

Britannia rules! Vancouver’s Britannia Secondary School celebrates its 100th

By Diane Minichiello

In the heart of Vancouver’s Eastside, at Britannia Secondary School on May 16 and 17, 2008, thousands of alumni, former teachers and staff, as well as today’s students, teachers, and friends will converge to chant "Britannia Rules" and "Go, Bruins!" Britannia’s halls will bustle as never before. Graduates from the 1930s to the 2000s share a common purpose as they mix and mingle, reminiscing and reconnecting with old classmates and friends.

What a century it’s been. The 100-day countdown to the Gala weekend began with a ribbon-cutting event on February 6, 2007, attended by several key Britannia supporters. Former Bruins and distinguished educators Norm Lee, Neva Morley, and Lou Rossi led the charge. Excited students, supportive staff, energetic alums, and other well-wishers joined the throng, each receiving and wearing proudly, the green and red wristband, to mark the May 16 and 17 Gala dates, and to celebrate a Britannia Secondary School milestone.

During its first hundred years, Vancouver’s oldest secondary school has experienced massive changes. Today’s site, combined with the Britannia Community Services Centre, has facilities and programs for all ages from daycare to seniors, and speaks to its unique and individual character. John Minichiello, former coach, teacher, and principal steered the creation and construction of this facility while advising the Association to Tackle Adverse Conditions (ATTAC). ATTAC is a community group of politically savvy Britannia grads, teachers, and citizens, who achieved their goal of stopping a major downtown highway through the Venables Street corridor. One of these students, Enzo Guerriero, is now executive director of the Britannia Centre.

Taking a walk through the hallways, one gains a sense of Britannia’s past through a peek at the accomplishments of some of the graduates. Britannia athletes boast 40 provincial championships with three provincial athletes of the year.

Individual student accomplishment and successes attest to the quality education, personal commitment, and influence of past Britannia educators. In Remembering Britannia–100 Years of Growth and Achievement, a memoir book co-edited by graduates Clive Cocking and Ray Culos, and designed by graduate Amy Pon, many former educators are recognized. Today, Britannia teachers continue to exemplify the standard of excellence of their predecessors.

Remembering Britannia highlights some of its graduate’s accomplishments as well. Britannia boasts an impressive list of graduates including educators, judges, physicists, athletes, entrepreneurs, politicians, architects, fashion and graphic designers, authors, and entertainers.

The Barrett brothers, Dave who was BC’s New Democratic Party (NDP) premier in 1972, his brother, Isadore ("Izzy"), former director of the US Southwest Fisheries Science Center, and Bill Esson, once chief justice of the BC Supreme Court, are also featured. Another brother duo, the Honorable Frank Iacobucci and his brother, John, graced Britannia’s halls in the 1950s.

The centennial celebration begins on Friday evening of May 16, 2008, at Britannia and continues through Saturday’s Open House. Visit old school haunts. See how Britannia has changed. Participate fully with your Passport as a future keepsake. Bill Reiter and Bob Fitzpatrick, the reunion’s chair, emcee the reunion finale.

The Gala event, at the Agrodome Saturday evening, stars Dal Richards and his Orchestra, Federico "Ricky" Fuoco with "Fire," the Soul-Mates, David Steele and the Just Funk Band, and Britannia’s very own 2008 Chorus and Band.

Britannia has always been more than a school where teachers and students meet; it has been, and will continue to be, a facility greater than the sum of its parts–a fusion of all that is best.

Register today! Apply as an early bird by February 29 to qualify for the draw for the early-bird prize of a trip for two to Las Vegas. The website is: britanniacentennial.com

Diane Minichiello is the PR chairperson, Britannia Centennial Reunion Society.

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