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Share memories at reunion of Pinecrest and QE schools on Saturday

Pinecrest school staff 1976-1977 – Back row: Ronald Henry, Gerald McKeown, Chris Tammel, Eric Broadley, Michael Jowett, Winston Rowe, Douglas Blower, John Hiddink, John Bigg, Robert Hall, Henry Cranshaw. Middle row: J.D. Rainey, Christine Burden, Herbert Coopers, Gloria Jowett, Forence Berry, Carole Binch, Eulalie Taylor, Gena Miller, David Fox, Jean Strawbridge, Clarence Brooks. Front: Ruth Thompson, Nancy Lockyer, Margaret Hitchon, Arlene Wright, Ival Stark, Ethel Brooks, Ruth Wilson, Diane Cranshaw, Linda Boyce, Sheila O’Grady. Absent: Patricia Coleman, Mary Edgar, John Stegeman, Robert Wood.

Former classmates, teachers and staff will share memories of school days at Queen Elizabeth and Pinecrest elementary schools when they meet up at the reunion Saturday in Picton.

Stories about the three-ton Sabre Jet fighter at Pinecrest are sure to surface, as are tales of winning sports teams and everything from lip synch contests and favourite teachers, to what happened to so-and-so.

Hosted by the Quinte Educational Museum and Archives (QEMA), one of the organizers, Kathy Reed, can’t wait for the day of reuniting with fellow teachers and students.

“I want to see the students I taught. I want to hear their stories and meet their partners, and children. Did I make a difference in their lives? I also want to see my former colleagues and catch up.”

She has had the best of both worlds – teaching at both the two major schools that were closed in 2017 and 2018.

Reed came to the County in 1967, teaching for Principal Carl Reid. She moved into her Grade 2 classroom at Queen Elizabeth and five years later transferred to Pinecrest as its librarian, under the leadership of Dan Rainey. As retirement was looming, she came full circle, returning to Queen Elizabeth school.

Gerald McKeown, former teacher, vice and acting principal at Pinecrest, recalled that by 1964 the many small schools in Bloomfield and Hallowell townships were filled to capacity.

“The Ministry of Education directed all the township schools to be closed in the following years and one central school to be built. The Bloomfield Public School Board took up the challenge of constructing a new school at the Corey Street location,” on 20 acres of property purchased from the Leavens family.

When Pinecrest opened in 1967, it took in students from the schools Glenora, Upper Greenbush, Lower Greenbush, Yerexville, Waring’s Corners, Shannon’s Bloomfield, Cooper’s, Schoharie, Union Vale, West Lake, Mount Pleasant and Bowermans.

Queen Elizabeth Public School soon became the main school for students in Picton after it was built in 1953-54 on the site of the old Picton Collegiate which was destroyed by fire in May 1952. It took in students from both the Mary Street and York Street elementary schools.

Helen (Nelson) Snider has fond memories of her 33 years as an educator – beginning as a kindergarten teacher at Queen Elizabeth School in 1965 and also continuing on at Pinecrest.

“It was an exciting time in education when open concept classrooms were introduced to students and their parents and it was a fascinating learning curve for teachers and children at the time,” she said.

“I will never forget the day the airplane arrived at Pinecrest School to become a remarkable addition to the playground and the children’s hands-on learning experiences,” she recalled. “We were an energized team of educators at Pinecrest and many of us have followed each other’s careers with interest and remain good friends to this day. Students, teachers, and parents were privileged to share very happy years together.”

Pooky Nye agrees that those at Pinecrest and Queen Elizabeth schools got along for the most part.

“I started teaching at Pinecrest in 1983. Wow, that was a long time ago. It was like a family. The staff was very close. We didn’t have 40-minute lunch breaks and we weren’t given a set amount of preparation time. I had 36 students in my first class, we supervised the yard, and kids got along, for the most part. It was a community and we loved it, staff and students alike.”

Nye was a substitute principal at Queen Elizabeth over its last year years and enjoyed the school’s sense of pride.

“We, in the community, have an opportunity to celebrate our years at these two wonderful schools and to say goodbye to them formally at a reunion on June 8th at the community centre in Picton. I hope to see everyone there.”

Everybody’s invited to reflect on the years each school was open – Pinecrest from 1967-2017 and Queen Elizabeth from 1954-2018.

Meet Saturday, June 8 at the Prince Edward Community Centre in Picton. Opening ceremonies are set for 11 a.m. and an event-filled day will include a classic car show, memorabilia displays from each school, a wine tour, WI luncheon, silent auction, craft show, QEMA book sales, mini putt contests. Argyle Engraving will also have reunion souvenir wine glasses, mugs, steins, mason jars and more.

The day wraps with a dance featuring Peter Rea, The Reasons, The Reasonettes and guest performers. Day events are $10 per person. The day and dance package is $20. Tickets available at the door.

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