This year is Gleneagle’s 20th anniversary.
Gleneagle opened on September 2, 1997 with 1,200 students from grade 9-11 thanks to the “Buy a brick – Build a school” campaign.
The building of Gleneagle had been postponed for several years due to funding shortfalls. In 1995, provincial funds from the education ministry were not allocated for the $25 million construction, potentially resulting in 3,000 high school students being relegated to portable classrooms within two years.
As a result, the “Buy a brick – Build a school” campaign was started by a local parent group, P.E.A.C.E., which stands for Parents Expecting Adequate Funding for Construction and Education) in October, 1995. They sold imaginary bricks for $2 each in a fundraiser.
By the end of 1995, $10,000 was raised, and in April 1996, Mike Farnsworth, Port Coquitlam MLA, announced the release of funds to build Gleneagle.
Although Gleneagle is now known as one of the better schools in the district, it hasn’t always been this way. It had a bad reputation during the first couple of years after it opened.
On October 6, 1997, the 7-11 convenience store closed its doors to Gleneagle students and police were called to disperse students.
According to Maria Gomez, the manager of 7-11, Gleneagle students used to block the parking spaces in front of the store and disrupt business.
Starting at about 7:30 in the morning, students would stroll into the parking lot to smoke, talk, and hang out.
“Some customers asked them [the students] to move,” said Gomez, “but they would never listen.”
“I always welcomed Gleneagle students as long as they cooperated with us,” said Gomez. “I want to treat them as human beings, I want to respect them and I want them to respect 7-11.”
After the police were called by Gomez to stop the fight, a sound system was installed outside to play classical music.
It was stopped because students were behaving better, but it was reinstalled back after students’ behavior became less tolerable.
The administration claimed that the 7-11 issue is not their most important priority. “At any given time, there are 100-150 students at 7-11 which means that there are 900-1000 students at school,” said Bob Nicolas, principal. “My priority is to the school, not to 7-11.”
During the week of September 21-24, 1999, students gathered around during C block and protested around the balcony area to raise awareness about their dissatisfaction in terms of suspensions and strict rules being enforced.
Students made signs reading: “Gleneagle Suspension Capital of Canada”, “Wipe that smile off your face” and “You can’t suspend us all”.
When C block ended, the students poured into the halls with grade 12 students leading the way, saying “Shhhh” and hoping for support from other students.
The administration team called a meeting involving interested students during B block on September 24, 1999 to reach a reasonable agreement and to address school issues.
They also went from class to class to discuss the topic of fair treatment and their related concerns.
Some students, on the other hand, felt that the activities and situations happening throughout the school were being exaggerated by administration, and the action by students was harmless.
An anti-smoking program was started by Jerome Bouvier, grade 12 in 1999, aiming to provide a support group for students who are trying to kick the habit of smoking.
The program was originally suggested by Nicolas. Its initial plan was to incorporate a new experimental drug to help fight the cravings associated with nicotine withdrawal.
The product was a type of lip balm that had nicotine and other products commonly found in anti-smoking aids. However, Health Canada said that they were not allowed to use the drug because it had yet to be tested.
Members of the group get other things to help them cope with cravings such as free gourmet lollipops, pizza, and anything else the group thinks would help them quit.
“It’s somewhere for people to go and to talk about bad habits, we’re all in the same boot here,” said Maggie Wlodarczyk, grade 12.
As of the 2015-2016 school year, Gleneagle ranked 108 out of 293 by the Fraser Institute with a rating of 6.6. It has one of the highest rates of student acceptance to post-secondary education among B.C high schools, with more than half of the graduates entering a public post-secondary in B.C.
Now, Gleneagle serves grades 9-12 and has an enrollment of about 1,300 students. In addition to academic programs, Gleneagle offers specialty programs such as ACE-IT Culinary Arts and Hairdressing, the COAST outdoor education program, the grade 9 JumpstART art program, and the school district’s TALONS gifted program.
“I feel pretty satisfied with being a student at Gleneagle,” said Claire Moon, grade 11. “I love how inclusive the environment is, and how everyone is non-judgmental.”