Former Sabres students, staff, teachers and community members filled the Steinbach Regional Secondary School (SRSS) on Thursday evening to celebrate the school’s 50th anniversary.  

The open house was an opportunity for the community to witness how the school has changed in the past 50 years.  

The evening kicked off with a program featuring two special guest speakers. 

Longtime principal and teacher Elbert Toews found himself back on the podium, sharing memories and acknowledging the past 50 years of the high school where he spent many years. 

Elbert ToewsElbert Toews 

“The classroom was my first love," Toews says. The only reason I guess I went into administration is because number one, they were looking for somebody. And number two, my rationale was that if I go into there, I'm in a position to influence what happens in the school and basically to support the teachers in their relationships with kids and stuff like that. I also said to the first group of teachers that I had is if I really don't like what I'm doing, I'm going to go back to the classroom because I'll miss that place an awful lot. That was my basic beginnings,” 

He adds that he often reconnects with former staff and students as he “enjoyed his teaching career very much.” 

AM1250 radio host and former Olympian Michelle Sawatzky-Koop spoke at the event and shared the impact the school has made on her life. She says that travelling around the world has provided her with a chance to share her roots and her love for Steinbach.

“What it has given me is a vehicle to share how amazing this school and this community is. I have never ever wanted to stop doing that. And when people say, ‘you are from Steinbach. You’ve travelled all over the world, and you decided to come back here.’ I say, ‘absolutely, this was our number one choice. There have been so many reasons and it has been a good choice.’” Sawatzky-Koop says.

Michelle SawatzkyMichelle Sawatzky-Koop

While she graduated in 1988, in 2016 “life at the SRSS became front and centre again” when her twin sons, Paxton and Tyson, started attending the school. When she asked them about their favourite memory from high school, she received a special reply. 

“They didn't say anything about the classrooms they sat in or the hallways that they walked in,” she explains. "They said names like Brian Thiessen, Jamie Peters, Greg Loeppky. Sara Oswald, Henry Kasdorf, Sid Greenstone, Werner Pries, Andrew Unger, more and more and more. The SRSS experience was one of growth, learning, balancing extracurriculars with their studies. And then figuring out how to deal with successes in that and failures too. This place afforded them that.” 

The cast of the SRSS December musical, “The Music Man,” performed a special which was a throwback for many guests. The musical has been performed three times at the SRSS, and former students had the opportunity to relive their days in high school through the performance. 

After the program, it was time to uncover memories. Current teachers led guided tours and there was also an option for a personal adventure through the self-guided tour. While catching up with old friends, guests also enjoyed refreshments prepared by the SRSS culinary department. 

The evening was filled with reconnections and conversations about life since high school. Many looked through yearbooks, searched for their old lockers, and relived their classroom days. They also checked out the new side and facilities of the school, walking in the footsteps of generations after them.

With files from Adi Loewen.

Check out the photos from the event: