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Lifting the lid on history

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Joseph Teres School leafed through its past on Sept. 25.

Former principal and anniversary committee member Laurie Sodomlak, with some help from the Transcona school’s students, cracked open the box as part of the school’s 25th anniversary celebrations. The box was created as part of the school’s 10th anniversary celebrations in 1998.

In it, she found several markers of the past, including a program from the formal opening of the school, photos and projects created by then-students, a copy of The Herald featuring a front-page story about the school, and even a Teletubbies doll.

Sodomlak said seeing all the names of bygone students brought about a journey down memory lane for her.

"Even though I wasn’t here at the 10th (anniversary) when they packed it, I know lots of those names and those kids, so it was a flash for me — I could see pictures and faces," recalled Sodomlak, the school’s vice-principal from 1988 to 1996 and principal from 2001 to 2006.

Sodomlak said the planning committee of approximately 25 members has brought together former and current staff, parents, and past students as part of the preparations. But being able to relive good times is "almost as important as the day itself."

Current principal Doreen Hildebrand was thrilled to see the box’s contents, and appreciated the thinking behind its contents.

"Every student was acknowledged in that box, and I really thought that was significant," said Hildebrand, who is entering her fourth school year as principal. "It’s important that every student leaves their thumbprint or their signature or story."

The legacy of Joseph Teres, the Transcona police chief after whom the school is named, was represented at the event via his grandson, Ryan. The elder Teres died in 1976, before Ryan was born, but being a part of the school community still means a lot to the police chief’s descendant.

"It’s definitely a form of afterlife for my grandfather," said Teres, 31, who attended Grade 1 in the school’s inaugural year before transferring to Westview School to be with his neighbourhood friends. "His name lives on, and how fitting it’s on a school, with community, children, and working together.

"It was an epic feeling — my last name is on this school. What more could you ask for?"
Teres, who spoke to students at the event, said he felt comfortable in the year he spent within the school’s walls.

"It was like a new best friend," he said. "It really felt welcoming coming to this school. Everyone was so welcoming and nice. At the same time, it was a relaxing feeling. School can be an (anxious experience), but for me, it wasn’t."

Hildebrand said that based on what she knows about the school’s namesake, he was a community-minded man who would appreciate what the school and its students have developed into.

"Every assembly seems to develop into this sense of everybody still wants to hang around and visit," Hildebrand said.

The school will continue its ceremonies with an open house at the school on Oct. 17. From 5:30 to 8 p.m. with a formal ceremony at 6 p.m. Sodomlak is seeking past students who are willing to give a "two-minute memory" at the open house. Those interested can contact her at lesodomlak@shaw.ca

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