Nostalgia envelops Penticton as school celebrates 100th anniversary

This weekend is all about catching up, as one particularly chummy -and smart - class can attest

A photographer attempts to order Pen High's class of 1957 for a group picture. The school's 100th anniversary celebrations continue through Sunday.

A photographer attempts to order Pen High's class of 1957 for a group picture. The school's 100th anniversary celebrations continue through Sunday.

Pen High has produced some notable graduates over the years, but the class of 1957 seems a little stacked.

Included in its ranks is a past-vice-president of the Toronto Stock Exchange, a past-president of the Canadian Association of Physicists, and a past-president of the Australia Nut Industry Council.

The class staged its 55th reunion this weekend in conjunction with the larger Pen High 100th anniversary celebrations.

“I like these people. They’ve all achieved something in the time I’ve left them, and it’s very interesting to see the achievements that they’ve had,” said Phil Montgomery, a 73-year-old macadamia nut farmer in Australia, who travelled back to Penticton for the reunion.

“We’re all aging,” he continued. “Some of us have got physical problems, we’re not happy about things, but when we get together we do have a good time.”

Montgomery was a 26-year-old produce manager for Safeway when the company transferred him to Australia to help establish its presence there. He went on to join the corporate world, before he retired to his farm and a turn as head of the country’s nut growers’ association.

Classmate Allan Offenberger, a retired University of Alberta electrical engineering professor, helped organize the reunion, the seventh such get-together for the group.

Offenberger, who lives in Edmonton, spent his academic career at the U of A, but received his PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also once led the national physicists’ group, has a planet named after him and is considered one of Canada’s leading experts on fusion energy technology.

This weekend, however, he’s all about enjoying his old friends’ company.

“When we were in school, we were a very socially organized year going through. We were into sports, academics and social get-togethers,” he said.

“And it’s reflected in our having gotten together so many times over the years. The ones you see here are (here) because they genuinely enjoy coming back and getting together with the class of ’57.”

Hugh Cleland, a member of one of Penticton’s founding families, travelled back from Toronto for the shindig. His resume includes a stint as a vice-president of the TSX, and more recently as a business consultant.

Cleland said the class never seemed particularly tight-knit to him during high school, but that seemed to change after its 10th reunion.

“I don’t think we thought we were so responsive to the idea until we did it,” he said. “And it was kind of fun.”

Pen High’s anniversary celebrations include a sold-out dinner and dance Saturday night at the Lakeside Resort and a pancake breakfast Sunday morning at the school.

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