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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Past students walk KDHS halls one last time





by Sylene Argent, Local Journalism Initiative

It may be an end of an era, but there were endless reasons to celebrate the legacy of Kingsville District High School (KDHS) that stretches back to 1921. An open house afforded past students a chance to walk the halls one more time on Friday evening.

  The Greater Essex County District School Board is building a new K-12 school on Jasperson Lane, which is expected to welcome students this fall.

  Though official numbers have not been confirmed, estimates being thrown around is that up to 4000 individuals attended the final walk through, many getting a chance to see their old classrooms, locker, and meet with friends they may have not seen in some time.

  “I feel things couldn’t have gone any better,” Heidi Skinner said, who is a member of the Cavs Legacy Committee, which organized the event. Onsite, visitors were offered a chance to create one more memory at the celebratory photo booth, and enjoy the food vendors, alumni games, Bingo in the cafeteria, and entertainment offered onsite.

  In addition, decade rooms were dedicated to boasting student success in specific time periods, giving past pupils an easier time to find themselves in photos or perhaps a trophy won by a team for which they were a part.

  “It was such a great feeling to be a part of it. So many people were beyond grateful that the Cavs Legacy Committee and volunteers put such an amazing event together. It was nostalgic. People were laughing, hugging, crying; remembering their time spent at KDHS.” 

  Remembering the Cavalier spirit, Skinner added, will never be forgotten.

  “I wish this event could have been put forth under better circumstances, but it’s events like these that truly show that the heart of Kingsville is – and always will be – community first,” Skinner added, referencing the school’s soon-to-be closure and the way the GECDSB selected the new school name.

  Attending the event was free for all to attend, however, donations were accepted with all proceeds going towards needed amenities for the new school.

  For Neil Baldwin, one of those greatest memories was winning the WOSSA basketball championship as a Cavalier during the 1961 to 1962 season.

  Uniquely, Baldwin is likely one of the individuals who spent the most time at the local High School, both as a student from 1958 to 1963, then as an English teacher from 1970 to 2000.

  “We did very well,” he said of earning that championship.

  That was quite a feat for a small school from Essex County.

  He fondly remembered having to travel all the way to London with his teammates to compete in this championship, while looking at a picture of the winning team posted in the 1960’s decade room during the KDHS open house.

  He attended the open house with his wife, Bonnie, who was also a teacher at KDHS, from 1987 to 2003, teaching English, history, and art. She proudly wore her husband’s official KDHS cardigan that displayed that WOSSA championship badge, while greeting former coworkers and past students.

  Baldwin said it was great to attend the open house and see everyone, many of whom he taught at one point. He and his wife called the event “nostalgic.”

  One of the biggest changes he noticed in his years at KDHS was the changes to the dress code. He recalled when he was a student, someone could have been expelled for wearing blue jeans to an outdoor track meet, for instance.

  With KDHS located in a small community, he said he knew many in town and often knew the parents of the students he was teaching. Staff at the school was also small, he added. That meant everyone was close.

  The best part of being a teacher, Baldwin said, was being there for the students.

“I have good memories,” Baldwin said.

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