My Media Life So Far #5 – High School

A new awakening dawned in the middle of High School with the arrival of John Smallbridge as a English teacher at Kitchener Waterloo Collegiate and Vocational School. Within weeks he became the sponsor of a brand new school newspaper, named Veritas Vincat, after the school motto.  It attracted all the media and artsy types – several from the drama club, always keen for opportunities for self-expression.  The staff included three students who had their own local weekly radio shows. John also identified some of the more thoughtful and introverted students as potential sources of poetry entries. Photographers came out of the woodwork. This was exciting. Many of them went on to be Canada’s journalists, television producers, and authors – Sam Levene and John Robert Columbo among them –  from this one local secondary school.

KCII was a minor player but it did land me the editorship of the Centennial Year Book in 1954-55. Because of the anniversary year, we had a bigger budget and a velvet cover – a bad choice because the over-hanging edges immediately became bent.  These were exciting times to edit.  One had to read copy prepared by the Commercial Department typing classes, send them back for correction, send the galley proofs to the printer, have them returned for correction, send back the second proofs, ensure that the right photos and bios were arranged for the 200 grads in a school of over 1800 students, the class pictures, the clubs and teams – not to mention a host of local advertisers. It was a real education for the 31 student editors, 28 advertising staff, the 8 clerical staff who typed copy connected with every photo, and the 2 students who handled circulation.  And two teachers stayed late most nights after school with extra help from nine of their colleagues to help us coordinate all this.