The world opened up for Teuvo Nupponen on his first day at Hammarskjold High School 50 years ago.
"A country boy coming to a big city school and it was a very impressive school," he said. "We had very good teachers. The camaraderie was wonderful."
Not only was it Nupponen's first day of secondary school in September 1962, but it was the first year the Clarkson Street high school was open.
Fifty years later, the school is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a three-day reunion weekend, which kicked off Friday with an open house.
Nupponen is volunteering this weekend and was stationed in the room of 1990s memorabilia. He'd already run into several old friends and the old memories were flooding back.
"Bringing back all the things we used to do and watching how each other has grown; it's all very warm and positive," he said.
Marga Bond was also a member of Hammarskjold's charter class and said she can remember leaving for lunch in the wintertime wearing short skirts, a hot fashion trend in the mid-'60s.
"We'd be freezing and we'd say 'well, sometime down the road we're all going to have arthritis and rheumatism' and now we're heading into those years," she said with a laugh.
Gerry Gormely was running into former students all afternoon.
A teacher and coach at Hammarskjold from 1964 to 1997, Gormely had been checking the registration website months prior to the reunion, checking to see which names he recognized.
"If you teach for 32 years, you cover a lot of students," he said.
Gormely taught history, sociology and law and also coached cross-country running and hockey.
It's in athletics where most of his fondest memories lie, especially a particularly winning hockey team that brought home the city title five years in a row.
They also brought home the Northwestern Ontario championship once in the late 1980s.
And while countless old trophies were hauled out for the reunion, Gormely left his medals from that win at home.
"I don't want them to go anywhere," he said.
The reunion has been two years in the making and committee chair Paul Caccamo said registration numbers exploded in the last month.
They're expecting more than 1,000 people to attend events over the weekend.
"People want to reconnect with old friends. People want to reconnect with former staff members and people want to see their old school," he said.
The school has seen additions over the years, but some things are still in its original place like the main office.
"People are proud of it. People are excited to come in. I can see people already connecting with friends they haven't seen in a long time."
Most of the registrants are students that attended Hammarskjold in the '60s, '70s and '80s. Some are travelling from as far as China for the reunion.
Reunion events include a meet-and-greet social at Lakehead University Friday evening, a scholarship fundraiser dance at LU Saturday evening and a Viking breakfast Sunday.
Caccamo attended Hammarskjold from 1983 to 1988 and said he was pleased to see all the red and gold at the school Friday.
"You can just sort of sense the spirit that's alive in the hallways here today," he said.
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