Old friends become new friends with Monarch Park reunion group

The Monarch Park high school alumni group grows with each graduating class, and a familiar refrain can be heard at each meeting:

“Do you know where he is?”

“Do you know where she is?”

A curious group, after connecting on social media, we now meet annually in the Beach area – mostly to share answers to the above questions. Most of the focus is on the students that attended Monarch Park from the ‘60s to the ‘80s.

The Monarch Park reunion group reconnects at The Stone Lion. PHOTO: Submitted

It all started when graduate Stanley Lam uploaded Group, Sports, Clubs & Class photos from past years to Facebook. The greater the number of individuals in the picture, the more members would hit “tag” and “comment”, leading to the addition to new members to various groups.

With each Facebook group growing, demand to reconnect physically after decades apart became a popular topic. Many wanted a casual social event and Stanley accommodated them at the Stone Lion (formerly Lion on the Beach) on Queen Street. The locale was more than a coincidence, the name “Lion” is the same as the school mascot.

Now, a yearly occurrence is scheduled on the third Saturday of every September. The staff is very friendly and we appreciate their assistance in hosting the annual event. They go out of their way to make everyone feel at home, like we’re back at Monarch Park.

The “school” theme is strong: that includes the live band of fellow alumni who encourage classmates to join them on stage for a song or two. If the dancing is any indication, everyone attending loves it.

I attended for the first time last year and found the school spirit still alive. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to see an old schoolmate that I had not seen for over 40 years and recognize him by his smile alone. It was great to reminisce and reconnect with these old friends. Some, even after decades apart, began relationships – the group can even boast a marriage!

Who would have known that by attending an event for old pals, you could so easily make new friends? The mood is light and casual, there are no concerns about our age, awkwardness or being with strangers – we’re safely surrounded by classmates! The relaxed atmosphere felt like being back at school, except being legally allowed to drink.

The “Monarch Park Alumni” Group is one of the few pages that I visit daily. It’s always exciting to see one’s picture and those of your friends. It’s also fun to tag yourself or your friends and to keep the school comments going, involving the past, present or even the future; especially when someone is posting something funny. Like that old smelly tunnel that many students used to walk through to get to school every day. There are also frequent discussions of classmates, teachers, or life-changing events.

Getting the support and materials from Monarch Park and seeing the growth of the groups is their main reward. It has become the unofficial school community. Researching other East End high schools, they appear much less active – but we’d be interested to hear otherwise. Plus, classmates from other schools are welcomed members of our Group. So, if you attended Monarch Park or know friends from this school, come on out and visit the old gang, it’s fun for all. Hope to see you at the Stone Lion in September, otherwise join “Monarch Park Alumni” online where you’ll find me among our growing contingent of classmates.

Many thanks to group founding members Mark Coady and Gary Hoffman (for the ‘60s and ‘70s) and Stanley Lam for the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Paul J. Calleri, is a Chartered Professional Accountant, founder of TheGAAP.net and a proud Monarch Park alum. Reach him at pcalleri@thegaap.net.

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