Over its fifty years, Tupper has experienced change in a big way – and in so many ways. Indeed, 50 years made a big difference.
Most obviously there have been changes in the look of the school. Notice the front hallway, for example. You may have known it when it was painted something similar to a ‘beige yellow’, now it is a vibrantly colored red. The empty hall with its nondescript walls is decorated (and changed repeatedly throughout the year) with student work from art classes – a veritable art gallery!
In 1959 when Tupper opened, it was indeed a facility that was state of the art. It had rooms and programs for laundry and dry cleaning, electricity and electronics, carpentry and millwork, and power mechanics and industrial power. It had both junior and senior music rooms. It had a library that was on one side of the hall that has now been moved to the other. As well, the breezeway and classrooms were added to the eastern end of the original building. During the 1990’s, once again Tupper changed its ‘look’ – reinforcing structures were added to the outside of the building, so that if any earthquake or seismic event occurred, the building was well prepared. In 2008, the look of the school was completed by the addition and dedication of a totem pole in front of the school.
Within the building, the population has changed over the 50 years. It has grown and then declined and now it is growing once again. Tupper started in 1959 as, what we today would call, a Middle School, servicing grades 7, 8, and 9 – with about 650 students. Within 6 years, it had grown to include grades 10, 11, and 12 and approximately 1700 students. (During that same time, the number of staff grew from about 40 to about 77 teachers) Since then enrollment has declined to the 900’s – but, I am pleased to say, once again, Tupper’s enrolment is on the rise for the first time in many years to approximately 1000 students.
Another less obvious change is the changes in student-teacher relationships. In 1959, the school staff and students related to each other on a ‘we-they’ relationship. Staff dictated and students obeyed. Relationships were stiff and quite formal. Repeatedly-offending students were disciplined with the school strap. It wasn’t until 1973 that such measures were made illegal. Today, there is much more of a cooperative relationship between students and staff. Today staff and students work together in classrooms and share activities in the foyer, gym and auditorium. Tupper students frequently join staff as members of school committees. The students’ voice is heard and valued.
Tupper prides itself on this relationship. Over the years, it has been named in various ways – the “Tupper Way’, the ‘Tupper family’. Today, Tupper school ‘runs’ on ROARS – students take responsibility for their own actions. They know about and act on being respectful, taking ownership, developing an appropriate attitude, being responsible, and safe. As principal, I receive many calls every year commending the students’ behavior in the community.
Whatever it has been called, the relationship between staff and students has always been acknowledged as unique to Tupper and very special.
Another and quite obvious change is the change in the culture of the school. Tupper in 1959 had a student population that was almost mono-lingual, and was more or less mono- cultural. Most students were ‘white’. Nowadays Tupper has students and staff that represent cultures from around the world. Its population is multicultural, and multi-hued. Tupper indeed reflects that changes that Canada as a whole has experienced over 50 years.
These are some of the impacts that time has made on the Tupper school community. But it should be noted – some things never change! – and that is true for Tupper as well.
One thing that has been constant over time is something that Tupper is famous for – and justly proud of – Tupper school goes out of its way to provide services and programs to meet the needs of its students. When students from around the world came to Vancouver in the 1980’s, Tupper started an extensive and exemplary ESL program. ELC and Transitional Programs were also introduced – establishing programs that were adopted throughout the District.
A counsellor at Tupper, sensitive to the needs of Teen Mom’s, started a district wide Teen Mom’s program, and established Emma’s Day Care – students could be with their children and learn at the same time. Many other alternative programs were created to accommodate the special needsof students.
Another constant about which Tupper is justly proud are its great staff that cares, and its wonderful students. Some students gained fame in academics, some in sports, some in careers after graduation – we are proud to acknowledge the impact that Dr Donald R. Ricci and TV personality, Mi-Jung Lee and now Jim Chu, Vancouver’s Police Chief have had on the Vancouver community – and some students we have to acknowledge for just being here. Some students gave their best; some students found other ways to participate. All have made the school what it is today. All have contributed to the school and its way of being.
Look around at the facility, the visible cultures, the number of students, past and present, and the number of teachers and staff that are here tonight. Get a feel for the warmth of Tupper, the caring, and the camaraderie/sense of community. That feeling is pretty unique. See what you all have been part of creating!
Congratulations, Tupper, on a wonderful 50 years!
Tupper’s 50th Anniversary History provided by Ms. G. Galloway. Archives from Ms. J. Harvey.