Hundreds attended a celebration at R.E. Mountain school, which is about to move to a new location after 42 years. Dan Ferguson Langley Advance Times

VIDEO: Memories of R.E. Mountain Secondary school celebrated

After 42 years, the school is about to move to a new location

Hundreds attended a celebration of R.E. Mountain Secondary school on Saturday, sharing memories of their time in the halls of the soon-to-be-moved Langley institution at 7755 202A St..

Among them was Kwantlen First Nation Chief Marilyn Gabriel, a former R.E. Mountain student who graduated in 1982.

At the Mountain celebration ceremony, Gabriel recalled being a teen mom with a baby daughter. She thought she would have to stay at home instead of going to school.

Then a school counsellor phoned her.

“She said, ‘bring her,’” Gabriel said.

For the celebration, Gabriel brought her now grown-up daughter, Tricia, back to school one more time and they held hands as the chief talked.

There was plenty of smiling and laughing as Gabriel described her child as a socially confident “tornado” who made herself at home in the hallways where her mother studied.

“I couldn’t get up early enough to go to school,’ Gabriel said.

“I loved this school like every one of you.”

Gabriel, her daughter, and other family members and Kwantlen First Nation members sang traditional songs to the overflow crowd in a large hall of the school.

Outside the hall, in the entrance foyer, a memory wall was filled with recollections of former students and staff who wrote about square dancing at Christmas, singing in the musical theatre program, taking part in a 30-hour famine event with an overnight stay at the school in 2011, and performing on the school theatre improv team.

“The blueberry scones from the cafeteria were the best,” one writer noted.

R.E. Mountain will be moving next door into new premises, but the existing building will remain as a middle school, said Supt. Gord Stewart.

“It’s nice that if you decide to return [to visit], the structure will still be here,” Stewart said.

Stewart, a former vice-principal at Mountain, said there have been considerable changes in the area since the school was built in 1977, including the arrival of the Langley Events Centre and the many playing fields that now surround the school.

Mike Baker, the very first principal at Mountain, said because it was a relatively small school, he chose to focus on academic expertise when he was hiring teachers.

“We had to pick areas where we could do best and not replicate what the bigger schools were doing,” Baker said.

“It was once said that Mountain had more teachers with masters’ degrees than any other school in the district,” Baker added.

“Our focus was on good teaching and student commitment to learning.”

He noted the school was the first public school in B.C. to implement an international baccalaureate program.

Built in 1977, R.E. Mountain is named after Roy Edward Mountain, an educator with 40 years in Langley, a two-term Langley Teachers Association president who led a fight for better teacher salaries in 1940.

Mountain had about 480 students when it officially opened.

Currently, it has 1,300 students and is projected to grow by another 100 in the next school year.

READ MORE: Langley’s new R.E. Mountain Secondary gets 200-student capacity bump

READ MORE: New middle school named for Langley artist, music school founder

Magdy Ghobrial, the eighth and current principal, recalled starting his career as a student teacher doing a practicum in the music department in 1991.

He arrived shortly after a major renovation that was known as the “Pepto-Bismol expansion” because pink was the predominate colour of the new additions, Ghobrial said.

“We tried to stay away from pink in the new building,” he added.

“While we look forward to moving into a brand new school in September, I am reminded that the school is not the building but the people within the building,” Ghobrial added.

“We, as a school are thankful for the opportunities the current facility provided us over the past 42 years as we boomed in the 80’s, struggled a bit in the 90’s with lower enrollment, then began to grow again through today, where we are the second largest school in the district and likely on our way to being the largest,” Ghobrial said.

“I do believe I am the luckiest principal in the world,” Ghobrial said, praising the students and staff.

The Saturday event included tours of the school, food and entertainment, an alumni volleyball game, and a virtual tour of the new building that is nearing completion next door.

After the move, the old R.E. Mountain school will become Peter Ewart Middle School, named after Langley artist Peter Ewart, who passed away in 2001.

.

_________________________________

Is there more to this story?

Email: dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

_________________________________

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Chief Marilyn Gabriel (R) holds the hand of her daughter Tricia (L) as she describes how, as a young teen mom, she was allowed to bring her baby to R.E. Mountain school. Dan Ferguson Langley Advance Times

Current R.E. Mountain principal Magdy Ghobrial told visitors the “school is not the building but the people in the building.” Dan Ferguson Langley Advance Times

Superintendent Gord Stewart said the current school building would remain open as a middle school under a different name. Dan Ferguson Langley Advance Times

Snippets of memories were posted in the entrance foyer of R.E. Mountain school by former students and staff. Dan Ferguson Langley Advance Times

Just Posted

Pregnant Langley woman stuck in Wuhan, the epicentre of coronavirus outbreak

Woman is due to give birth in Wuhan, China unless she can get out

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants head coach records 200th win with 3-2 victory in Kelowna

Michal Kvasnica and David Tendeck named stars of the game

Budget, 208th Street, housing on Langley Township agenda Monday

Council has a full plate of meetings starting at 10:30 a.m.

Sun will be visible Monday in Langley – briefly

Breaks in the clouds expected before a return to rain for the week

VIDEO: Music stars pay tribute to Kobe Bryant at Grammys award show

Music artists including Billy Ray Cyrus, Rick Ross and Kirk Franklin paid tribute to Bryant

Victoria-area wolf tranquilized after being seen running around neighbourhood

Officials say wolf unharmed during its ‘arrest’

Ontario confirms second presumptive coronavirus case in wife of first patient

Both arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

Man clings to roof of car driving along busy road in Maple Ridge

The man was also seen jumping on the vehicle

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Most Read