In its previous incarnation, the building hosted Copper Cliff High School. The high school closed in the early 1980s, and the community's elementary school moved into the building.
Charley Davey and his wife, Dorothy, graduated from Copper Cliff High School in 1953. He said he has many “wonderful” memories of attending school there. “The teachers were super,” he said. “It was just a happy place.”
The Toronto resident said he especially remembers dancing at the school's May Ball and playing sports. He said he enjoyed seeing the school again, although most of the people gathered there were from younger generations.
The open house took place as part of the Back to the Cliff 2012 Reunion.
Past and present residents of the mining community also gathered for a number of other events July 20-22, including a meet and greet at the Copper Cliff Curling Club, a slag tour of Vale, a classic car show and live music in Copper Cliff Park, a pancake breakfast at Bruno's and a play at the Copper Cliff Italian Club.
Wendy and Trevor Wilkinson's father, Geoff Wilkinson, taught English at Copper Cliff High School for 17 years, and was the vice-principal for a year.
When he left the school in 1966, he was presented with a painting depicting the building. Wendy brought the painting with her to the open house.
“My dad was a fairly strict teacher,” Wendy said.
“He demanded a lot from his students. If they got good enough marks, they got the reward of being able to go to on the school trip. You couldn't just buy your way on the school. The trip was down to Stratford for a few days of seeing plays.”
Wendy said the family lived on Poplar Street in Copper Cliff when her dad worked at the school. She said she had fond memories of that time, walking to school by way of Mickey Mouse Hill and swinging on the monkey bars once she got there.
An entirely different generation of former students were also at the event.
Jennifer Hawkins attended Copper Cliff Public School in the 1980s and 1990s. Now her three-year-old daughter, Lily, attends day care at the school, and will start junior kindergarten there in a year.
Many young people who grew up in Copper Cliff are now moving back to the community to raise their own children, Hawkins said.
She explains the migration back to Copper Cliff this way – when you grow up in the community, it becomes “ingrained in your blood to be here.”
“I moved back to the same street I grew up on, and (Lily) can walk to school,” Hawkins said. “It's a wonderful community to raise a family. There's a nice, close-knit group of people and a lot of familiar faces from when I grew up.”
She said she thinks it's “awesome” Lily will be attending the elementary school she graduated from. “There's not any of the same teachers, but she'll have a lot of great memories here too.”
Jody Chevrette and Jerry McGhee also attended the school in the 1980s and 1990s, and like Hawkins, have come back to the community to raise their children there.
Emily, 11, will be attending Grade 6 at the school in the fall and Josh, 4, will be starting junior kindergarten.
Chevrette said she's constantly reminded of her own childhood because she's in the school so often.
She said her only regret is that her kids won't have the same experiences she did, as all of her teachers have long since retired, and even the playground equipment has changed.
“This is the best school,” Chevrette said. “Even the park — where do you see a school with a great big park like this?”
Sean Dempsey, whose two youngest children attend the school, is also a Copper Cliff Public School alumnus. He said Copper Cliff was a great place to grow up and a great place to raise his kids.
“I never want to leave,” he said. “What's fantastic is the closeness everybody has as a community and the friendships. Families are coming back. There's a close proximity to Sudbury, which makes it easy to get to work. I love it.”
Margaret Julian has lived in Copper Cliff for 33 years. “It's a great place to live,” she said, adding that it's a safe community to raise kids, and is fairly close to central areas of the city.
“It's also got character,” Margaret said. “We don't have a lot of newer homes. We've got some almost 100-year-old homes in this town.”
Julian's two grown daughters, Laura and Marisa, attended Copper Cliff Public School.
Laura, who graduated from the school in 1994, said she's wanted to see how the inside of the building looks now for a long time. While there's been some changes, it's still essentially the same, she said.
“This is the one school that I went to that I actually still care about,” Laura said.
Posted by Heidi Ulrichsen