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Alumni celebrate with music and theatre at spring reunion

CLASS OF '68: Members of the first graduating class of U of T Scarborough attended spring reunion. From left are: Bruce Geddes, Stephanie Geddes and Stefan Sierakowski. (Photo by Regan Tigno.)

by Shayla Duval

More than 200 alumni from the University of Toronto Scarborough came out to share fond memories and connect with their alma mater at spring reunion on June 1.

Held at the Miller Lash House in the Highland Creek Valley on campus, the reunion gave alumni a chance to mingle, listen to a performance by three U of T Scarborough student musicians, and watch a short play by the U of T Scarborough Alumni Theatre (ALTHEA).

“This event is an opportunity for alumni to revisit and reconnect with fellow classmates and to relive those good memories from their undergraduate years,” said Kim Tull, manager, alumni relations. “A lot of alumni haven’t been back to the campus in a long time, and many things have changed, so today is a chance to celebrate that.”

Attendance was more than double that of previous spring reunions, said Tull. This event also provided an occasion to introduce the alumni community to the campus’s ninth and newest principal, Professor Franco Vaccarino, who was installed last fall.

The alumni received their first impression of Vaccarino when he was called up to perform as an actor in ALTHEA’s performance Dream in the Valley — a comic interpretation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Vaccarino demonstrated that he could act and feign a British accent with the best of them, said members of the audience.

After the performance, Vaccarino delivered a speech to the crowd, informing everyone about recent developments on campus and welcoming them back.

“Coming back to the University of Toronto Scarborough campus is about making sure that we continue to be a community,” Vaccarino told the crowd. “For alumni, we’re talking about a place that has its roots in important and memorable years of your lives -- a community that can share with pride this fantastic campus.”

Although the reunion was a celebration for all alumni, it gave special mention to one group in particular. Eight graduates from 1983 attended Sunday’s events and were presented with commemorative 25th anniversary pins.

“I’m so glad to come back, because although the university has grown, it still remains a unique place within the community,” said Nancy Yue (BCom 1983). “I’m excited to be here today. It brings back a lot of memories.”

Yue has been working for the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario since graduation. She said she was impressed by all of the changes on campus. She remembered the campus as having only a small library, and not much study space.

“We didn’t have all of these resources when I was here 25 years ago, so this is amazing,” she said. “I’m so happy for the students now — they’ve got all of these wonderful buildings and such a great variety of different programs to choose from.”

“The campus has grown so much, and yet it has really adapted to the community and contributes a lot to it,” Yue added. “I’m so happy to be a part of it.”

There have been many additions to the U of T Scarborough campus since 1983, but for the first class of students who graduated in 1968, the contrast was the most glaring. The three graduates from that year who attended the reunion were recognized and applauded.

The 1968 graduates remember a very different campus: there were no residences, no gym and a tiny library, rather than the impressive facilities now on site. In 1968 the only building on campus was the Andrews structure with the attached H-wing and S-wing and the Meeting Place.

“There were a lot of advantages to being at a smaller campus,” said Bruce Geddes (BA 1968), who went on to become principal of Walter Perry Junior Public School in Scarborough. “Many of the professors were cross-appointed to the graduate school on the St. George campus, so we had a very strong faculty, and the classes were very small so we had a lot of one-on-one contact with the staff, which was very good.”

Stephanie Geddes (BA 1968), Bruce’s wife — who became principal of Earl Haig Junior Public School in Toronto — also attended the reunion. She commented that everyone she kept in touch with from the first graduating class had been very successful in their occupations. She said this was probably due to the very small class sizes — sometimes as few as four students per class — and the close working relationship between staff and students.

“In those days you either had to walk through the fire or perish,” she said. “It was hard, but it was great. I love the school -- I have no regrets, and it’s good to see that it’s doing so well.”

Shayla Duval is a fourth-year journalism student in the joint program offered by U of T Scarborough and Centennial College.




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