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    Bricks from the demolished General Panet High School were sold as memorabilia pieces at Valour JK-12 School. Grade 10 Student Kadrienne Hoelke volunteered to sell them. (Photos by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    The spirit of General Panet High School lives on in the memories of nearly 700 alumni who met for the 60th Anniversary Reunion Celebration held from May 18 to 20. Among those celebrating were, from left, Beverly Payne, class of ‘77, Joan Leamont, class of ‘73, Mary Chaulk, class of ‘72. Pat Sanford, Chair of the General Panet High School (GPHS) Reunion Committee and class of ‘77, Carol Blackley, class of ‘77, Diane Hackett, class of ‘71 and David Norris, class of ‘71. (Photos by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

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    (Photos by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)



Reunion marks Panet’s 60th anniversary

By Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Thursday June 7, 2018

Though General Panet High School is no more, its memory lives on in the hearts and minds of the former students and staff who attended the school’s 60th Anniversary Reunion Celebration.

Large reunions have been held every five years since the 80s, and often see hundreds converge in Petawawa from all over North America and abroad to reconnect with old friends and teachers.

This year’s event was held over three days, from May 18-20, and featured a variety of activities from a meet and greet to horseshoes and mini-putt at the Petawawa Civic Centre, to a tour of Panet’s replacement, Valour JK-12 School, and a Saturday Dinner and Dance, which attracted about 700 people.

General Panet was a small school, and students formed close bonds that still remain today, said Pat Sanford, Chair of the General Panet High School (GPHS) Reunion Committee, adding many people try to attend every single reunion, keeping their friendships alive for decades.

“There are a lot of memories to catch up with,” said Mary Chaulk, class of ‘72.

General Panet High School was demolished in 2015. Bits and pieces of the school, including bricks and memorabilia, were kept and later displayed in a place of honour at Valour. Some of the bricks were sold to alumni over the weekend with proceeds earmarked for a track and field facility at Valour.

The reunion was a bittersweet time for many of the attendees.

“This is the first time they’ve had a reunion that General Panet is not there,” said Gary Serviss, GPHS Reunion Committee member. “We used to tour that building but we can’t do that anymore.”

Unlike most high schools, General Panet’s student body was mainly military children. For youth who often find themselves in a new community every few years, being surrounded by like-minded peers can help with the initial isolation.

“It is great to have that fellowship and camaraderie,” said David Norris, class of ‘71. He also served in the military and met his wife Diane Hackett at Panet.

The special bond they share often strengthens with time and distance, especially with the advent of Facebook.

“Even if they just spent a few years there, it was their high school,” said Serviss. “And because they are spread out all over the world, it is more of a giant homecoming for a lot of these people.”