North Dundas District High School and 50th reunion committee surprise students with inspiring revamp

From left, NDDHS student Brett Lannin, EA Kim Jurado and teacher Deanna Corbett-White, at the pancake-serving trays during the semester-starting breakfast at the high school last week. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

Nelson Zandbergen
Nation Valley News

MAPLE RIDGE — Thanks to quick-working volunteers and an effort worthy of a reality TV home makeover show, North Dundas District High School sports some new interior colours and a bunch of new photo-realistic murals.

Returning from a day off to start the new semester, students were surprised when they streamed into the cafeteria for a special breakfast Friday morning, Feb. 3. Gone were the expansive walls of beige nothingness.

In their place is bright new paint with ‘deep lagoon blue’ highlight striping around the perimeter of the room. Large-format photographs of student clubs and groups of the recent past now festoon the walls, topped off with a huge “North Dundas We Are The Devils” logo at the front of the room, with stylized interlinking ‘N’ and ‘D’ letters.

Teacher Deanna Corbett-White said the images are meant to inspire the current crop of students to get take part in activities at NDDHS, with the potential of having their own super-sized mugs up on the wall. “We can update them [the photos] as we go,” noted Corbett-White. “One of our goals is to have the kids see this stuff and want to get involved in the fun.”

Funds generated by the half-century reunion event three years ago helped pay for the flurry of interior decorating achieved while students were off or distracted by exams last week.

“It’s really nice. I was really surprised. I had no idea this was happening,” said Maddie Henderson, head of athletics for Students’ Council, among the 500 students enjoying that morning’s pancakes doled out by staff and Dundas County Trustee Jeremy Armer. Winchester Foodland proprietor Dan Pettigrew donated the ingredients for the breakfast, while the Dundas Dairy Committee contributed milk and butter.

Eight to ten volunteers — including school staff members led by Corbett-White, as well as other anniversary committee members — toiled Thursday through Sunday on the previous weekend, putting up $800 worth of paint donated by Ken and Trish Boje of Winchester BMR.

The work was staged to prevent students from seeing it, with the cafeteria off limits during exams.

They erected those giant photos last Wednesday evening, tacked onto frames produced by the shop class — on the eve of the students’ day off. The main foyer was also painted in the same new colours, set off by a Welcome to North Dundas mural produced with the help of Diane and Sheldon Shane of Shane Signs — the same firm behind the other large images arrayed around the school. Leslie Ellam of Ingleside came up with the design.

The project is the latest accomplishment out of $20,000 generated by the 2013 reunion.

Those funds have also helped the school resurrect its greenhouse and re-build entrances to the courtyard, re-opening that area to students for the first time in 17 years.

The school has also acquired a special printer used to produce inspirational sayings now adhered around the building.

During a walking tour of the building, Duncan similarly highlighted a three-year-old hand-painted wall mural (created by local artist Carrie Keller) as well as historical newspaper pages blown up and installed at the time of the anniversary. In the gym, he noted the 50th anniversary logo painted on the gym floor to coincide with the anniversary, as well as thousands of dollars in new curtain material shrouding the stage.

Some of the new hallway imagery at NDDHS adorns otherwise empty walls that previously housed banks of lockers when the student population was higher.

Additional improvements are planned as the last of the reunion fund is used up. Duncan suggested each of the interior doors at the school was set for a fresh coat of paint as one example.

See the video below for Principal Brenda Beaudette’s explanation of the latest improvements at the school, as told to students during the celebratory Feb. 3 breakfast, with several accompanying photos within the video.



This article was edited to properly describe the new logo in the school cafeteria. Kelsea Fawcett of Winchester designed the logo.

Update: A recent Mayor Eric Duncan video chronicling recent work done at the high school appears below.

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