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Photos: Joyful reunion for Copper Cliff High alumni

It may be two years late, but the 40th anniversary reunion marking local school’s shuttering is finally going ahead this weekend

Copper Cliff is known as a tight-knit town, and this was evident in the joyful hugs exchanged and the laughter resounding as former students shared memories and caught up at the Copper Cliff High School Reunion July 15. 

The reunion marking the 40th anniversary of the high school’s 1980 closure was originally supposed to be held in 2020, but the pandemic unfortunately forced its postponement for two years.

Although falling short of the organizers’ original hopes, about 240 people registered to attend. A previous CCHS reunion held in 1990 attracted about 2,500 people.

The event began with a golf tournament and then a meet and greet gala reception at the Steelworkers Hall Friday evening, and was to continue Saturday with a walking tour of Copper Cliff, and another gala meet and greet reception, also to be held at the Steelworkers Hall.

Andy Rickaby, a RCMP retiree, travelled all the way from his home in Nanaimo, British Columbia to be there. 

He said he attended Copper Cliff High School from 1978-1980, and then Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School after the Copper Cliff school closed.

Rickaby said it was important to him to come to the reunion because it was such a tight-knit school where he made a lot of close friendships.

“People just really want to come back and see some people they haven't seen in a long time, and may not ever see again,” he said.

One of the event’s organizers, Kim Kanerva, who graduated from Copper Cliff HIgh School in 1976, gave a history of the school.

She said that prior to the 1937 opening of CCHS, Copper Cliff teens would have to travel into Sudbury to attend school at Sudbury High School or Sheridan Technical School (now known as Sudbury Secondary School) via the Sudbury Copper Cliff Suburban Electric Railway.

“It sometimes took hours to get to school, especially in the wintertime,” Kanerva said.

She said that Copper Cliff students excelled academically over the years, as well as in athletic endeavours, and there were many caring and devoted teachers.

“When the high school closed in June of 1980, it was a sad day for many,” she said.

“Fortunately, our school is still here, and it's now occupied by the students of Copper Cliff Public School, who can create their memories of a small town school. 

“Although several alumni have moved from Copper Cliff to pursue post secondary education, to get a job, some friendships have endured the test of time and continued from generation to generation. 

“For others who have lost touch with some of their school friends and neighbours, we hope that the CCHS reunion has allowed you to reconnect.”

Kanerva told she’s always lived in Copper Cliff, and not only did she attend CCHS, but her kids attended Copper Cliff Public School, which now occupies the same building, and her grandsons are now attending the same school.

In organizing the reunion, Kanerva said it was nice to be able to honour the school “and what it was, because we were fortunate to have a high school in our town.”

Another one of the organizers, Al Nesseth, taught at CCHS as a young teacher from 1974 to 1977. He said despite the difficulties and delays, the organizers persevered because the event would be worthwhile for those who attended.

Nesseth said it’s his hope that everyone enjoys visiting with former classmates. “Look at the comradeship here,” he said. “Pictures and conversations that will last long after today.”