by Lucie Roy
Georges H. Primeau Middle School kicked off their take on Greater St. Albert Catholic School Division’s sesquicentennial celebrations Monday. The division is celebrating 150 years of Catholic education, and each of the division’s schools are participating in the recognition.
Georges H. Primeau Principal Allan Menduk, parish priests Father Mario and Father Martin Jubinville, and former Primeau student Sandee Blackburn lead an assembly at the school Jan. 12. The session was a reflection on a century-and-a-half of Catholic education history, as well as the school’s three-and-a-half decade history. .
Menduk told students Greater St. Albert was the oldest district in Alberta, predating the formation of Morinville in 1911, the province in 1905, and the country in 1867.
A video presentation provided a quick history of the original Thibault District to the present day Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools.
Georges H. Primeau School, which celebrates its 34th year in 2015, was a particular focus of discussion.
Librarian Leanne LaRocque is working on Memory Lane, which has a number of graduating class and staff photos. “Primeau was a Junior/Senior High School and many of your teachers, parents, neighbours will be in those pictures,” Menduk told students.
Over the years, the school has housed different grades. From 1980 to 1994, the school included Grades 7 to 12. That changed when Morinville Community High School opened its doors. Today the school includes Grades 5 to 8.
Although the sesquicentennial celebration will look back on the history of the school, it will also look back on the history of the school’s namesake – Father Georges H. Primeau.
Former Primeau student Sandee Blackburn said she had the pleasure of knowing the priest. Blackburn was one of the students in the first graduating class from Primeau Junior/Senior High and the first recipient of the Father Primeau Award.
“[He] liked to live life large,” Blackburn recalled of Primeau, noting the priest was always stirring up many projects around town. She remembers him as a man full of life; a man people referred to as the Fireball Priest. Blackburn said she remembered how he loved to tell jokes, tease kids, and how there was always laughter when he was in the room.
Father Primeau started Scouts and Guides in the community, as well as the Fête au Village in Legal and the Frontier Daze festival in Morinville. Blackburn said Primeau was also behind hundreds of other community events and initiatives, including the restoration of the church and its classification as a historic site.
Primeau has a number of activities this month, including a special 50-year time capsule ceremony Jan. 26.