Kathleen Harper, an inspiring Principal
Kathleen Harper built on this foundation. Appointed Principal in 1950, she ran Sutton High School while completing her doctorate at the Université de Montréal. By all accounts she was demanding and even feared, but also admired.
Credit: Heritage Sutton Archives
Kathleen Harper strengthened the academic program. She also put in place a powerful incentive—the House System, which created two clans. On entering the school one became either a Lion or a Tiger and remained so for the duration of one's studies. Lions and Tigers competed both academically and athletically. Winston Bresee, Margaret Racette-Robertson and Allan Whitford describe it as follows.
Kathleen Harper also believed that a proper education should include an openness to developments in the modern world. She encouraged her teachers to make young people aware of life’s realities, including organizing end-of-year trips. Vincent Royea recalls visiting Québec City, Ottawa, New York and Boston.
Finally, she believed in giving more and more responsibility to students as they progressed through their studies. As part of that, Nancy Shepard tells us that older students mentored younger ones.
In her last year Nancy Shepard had the idea of doing what many other high schools did and publish a yearbook. She was the editor. When you leaf through the pages of that first Spotlight from 1954-1955, it’s easy to see just how involved students were in organizing academic and extracurricular activities that were second to none.
Mrs. Alice O’Brien Bidwell with her Grade 1 class:
Seated: Linda Cowan, Linda Miltimore, Maurie Dyer, Helen Bettschen, Gerry Bougie
Standing: Howard Robinson, Frank Liebrecht, Beat Marchand, Garry Haynes, Gary Reynolds, Burt Willis
Credit: Beat Marchand Archives