Walnut Grove Secondary will host a 25th anniversary celebration in true Gator Nation style on Saturday, Sept. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
WGSS vice principal, Logan Kitteringham, is one of the organizers and has unearthed some fascinating trivia and history that will be shared on the day of the event.
“We are calling it the ultimate reunion and open house. We have done a tremendous amount of research about the school’s troubled beginning, including construction finishing eight months after the school was scheduled to be opened,” said Kitteringham, an alumni and Gator basketball hall of famer.
“We have photos from throughout the school’s history and during construction and expansion. We have information about some of our famous alumni, we are hosting an alumni basketball tournament during the event, we have a former student band Little India performing.”
The first-ever alumni basketball tournament might be reason enough to attend. But there’s plenty more happening, said Kitteringham.
They’ve ordered three bouncy castles and a photo booth. There is a free build-your-own ice cream sundae station, velcro wall and an obstacle course.
Organizers are also asking for help to create a new time capsule. The school’s original time capsule from 1991 was destroyed in a flood. People are invited to bring in a piece of memorabilia or something that reflects the year 2016.
When Walnut Grove Secondary opened in 1991, it cost $15 million to build (now it costs around $50 million).
By 1995, there were 25 portables to handle the ballooning population of students.
But given that the ground the school was built on was so swampy (hence the chosen nickname Gators), the gymnasium proved difficult to build, so for the first year, students had gym outside or at a nearby elementary school.
WGSS remains Langley’s largest school, known for its environmental program and tech classes, including opportunities to work with one of the first 3D printers.
With more than 1,400 students attending each year, there have been many noteworthy grad pranks, including a few years ago when grads released a bunch of chickens in the ceilings, said Kitteringham.
There was another, when raw meat was hurled down the hallways by students on rollerblades.
Another Gator grad tradition was to fill the track with real estate signs.
Gators basketball and track and field teams have taken home many provincial titles over the years, dominating in these sports.
Many teachers have come and gone, but nine have been at the school since its beginnings, including George Bergen, who is the founder of the successful boys basketball program.
He continues to coach and helped the school win the senior boys provincial basketball title in 2013.
The school is also known for having one of the loudest fan bases.
From the first school computers when the internet didn’t yet exist, but mullets did, to now solar powered classroom, video green groom, and 3D printer — a lot of changes have happened to keep up with technology and pace with the new digital world while always keeping the environment in mind.
The courtyard received an upgrade recently and visitors to the reunion will see that an amphitheatre has been added.
Everyone is welcome on Sept. 24, including former students, teachers, current staff and students, parents and even community members interested in exploring what it means to be a Gator.
There is also a Facebook page: “WGSS Where Are They Now” 25th Anniversary Group.