David Nickerson photo/Telegraph-Journal

History of SJHS captured in novel to celebrate bicentennial

by Sandra Davis - Tuesday, November 30, 2004

This article is courtesy of Telegraph-Journal

Saint John High School's pink can and pigeon loft are finally attaining their rightful place in history.

Thanks to writer Christie McDonald, the infamous bathroom off the breezeway where the cool girls went to smoke will be forever etched in graduates' memories.

Ms. McDonald is one of many former graduates, teachers and principals who contributed to a just-released 253-page history of Saint John High School to celebrate its bicentennial.

The hard-cover receptacle of anecdotes and history was cobbled together by Richard and Sandra Thorne, who know of what they speak. The now-retired couple taught at SJHS for more than 30 years.

They spent practically every day - all day and into the evening from mid-July through mid-September - collecting data that covers 20 decades.

There are sections on everything from sports teams and drama ensembles to the school yearbook and newspaper.

Profiles of principals, anecdotes about the eccentricities of various teachers and other personalities, along with long-forgotten stories, both "tall and true", pepper the pages of the handsome volume.

Like the time former principal Dennis Knibb ended an auditorium assembly with the royal anthem, as he always did, by announcing, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Queen!", to which a new young student, gasping audibly, responded, "Where, where?"

In Mary Kegley-Bucklen's reminiscences of high school days, 1943-1946, she wonders if anyone besides her remembers the high school outing to Digby on the Princess Helene when most of the class got seasick.

Or if anyone else recalls Miss Magee, who informed her class of girls that they could not wear ankle socks in the spring before May 24.

Deno Pappas, a 1951 graduate, remembers Rivieria Restaurant manager George Maniatis and his so-called "Riv rules", which included no hopping over the backs of the restaurant's booths to visit friends.

If you didn't adhere to his decree, he'd kick you out for a week, recalls Mr. Pappas, whose father and uncle owned the popular restaurant.

Back then, cherry Cokes were 15 cents and an order of fries, 25.

The Thornes are thrilled with the publication's outcome.

"I'm very excited. I can't believe we did it over the summer," said Mrs. Thorne.

"We had piles of old yearbooks and photos everywhere."

The couple had the help of student researchers Mona'a Malik, Craig Estabrooks, David Cullinan and Clarissa Mak who thumbed through old yearbooks, viewed 100-year old class photographs back to 1896 and studied graduation programs from the last century.

They also interviewed about 40 people and laid out the beautiful edition.

"When you visualize doing something, you wonder what the final product will look like," said principal Barry Harbinson.

"I've already had a call from a woman who told me she can't believe how incredible the book is."

The cover is a reproduction of Ray Buter's untitled watercolour of the school that was presented to Mr. Knibb on his 1992 retirement by the Student Council.

Saint John High School A Tradition of Excellence, is available at Saint John High School or by calling 658-5358.

It will also be available at the school's annual bazaar next Saturday when the authors will be present to autograph copies.

Everyone is welcome to attend. The book sells for $40.