LaSalle Catholic reunion a class act
The Gazette

LCCHS is 50 years old and celebrating in style with 1,500 alumni from across the years and around the world

Graduates came from as far as Saudi Arabia , England , California and Florida .


Published: Saturday, December 30, 2006

The building is showing its age.

And so, no doubt, were some of the graduates who showed up last night for a 50-year high school reunion in LaSalle.

The school is now known as LaSalle Community Comprehensive High School .

But for many of its graduates, the initials LCCHS stood for LaSalle Catholic Comprehensive High School - its name from the early 1970s until 2004.

"It's 50 years of the English high school on 9th Ave. ," said Larry Burns, one of the reunion organizers.

Yesterday, volunteers milled about the school's ground floor preparing for last night's gathering that 1,500 people were expected to attend.

Graduates returning for the reunion came from as far as Saudi Arabia , England , California , Vancouver and Florida , Burns said.

The event has been nine months in the planning. The most difficult part of tracking down grads was finding female students, because telephone listings are often under their husbands' names, Burns said.

"We sent out almost 6,500 letters - invitations to people," Burns said. Many of them went to relatives, he said.

"We found a lot of people."

Photocopied pictures of various graduating classes were posted on classroom blackboards yesterday. People could go to the rooms as a starting point to meet classmates before going to the dances downstairs.

The pictures dated back to the class of 1956, when the building was called Leroux High School . (For a time, the school was also known as LaSalle Catholic High School .)

A list of about 100 names was posted in the school's entrance, listing the former students and staff who have died.

The sprawling school now spans a city block but was once two separate buildings.

At its peak, the school's enrolment was 2,200 students in the late 1970s and early '80s, Burns said. Now there are just under 1,000 students. One section of the building is to become an English elementary school next year.

The reunion activities began Wednesday, when 500 people showed up for a pub night at the school.

On Thursday, alumni came to the school for an open house where bagels and smoked meat were served. Steamies were also on the menu, but had to be scrapped because of a transportation problem.

Burns said organizers hope the reunion raises money for scholarships, as they did with a big get-together in 1991.

Bob MacKinnon, a member of the class of '71 who teaches history and English at LCCHS, said about 20 to 25 per cent of staff members are graduates of the school.

"It just speaks volumes about what people feel about the building and the surrounding community - the fact they want to actually come back here," he said.

Ruta Kerevicius, another reunion organizer, attended LaSalle Catholic and now teaches mathematics at LCCHS. Her two children also attend the school.

"It's very much a community," she said.

Alumni include former NHL player Mike Krushelnyski and Inspector Paul Chablo, head of the Montreal police force's media relations department.

Rita de Santis spent her first year at LaSalle Catholic in the basement of the elementary next door because the high school couldn't house all the students.

"I had pipes that were leaking over my head," said de Santis, a partner in the law firm Davies Ward Phillips and Vineberg.

She attended the big reunion in the early 1990s and planned to go to last night's gathering. Figuring out who is who from the past isn't a problem, she said.

"People change. They grow a little fatter. They lose hair. But generally you can recognize them."

De Santis added: "When I look back at my class - the class of '71 - you have to remember that this was a working-class area."

Several people from her class obtained their PhDs. Others became doctors, lawyers and engineers, she said.

"And we have people who've been very successful in other fields as well. And I'm very proud of them," de Santis said. "There must be something that people did right."

© The Gazette (Montreal) 2006