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School History

History 1959-2009

Friends of Tupper:
History back from 50 years, 1959-2009

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.


The Japanese Memorial Garden

The Japanese Memorial Garden on Sir Charles Tupper Secondary School is located on both 23rd and 24th Avenue. This garden is an award-winning garden by the City of Vancouver. 

The Tupper Mural

The Tupper Mural was designed by Tupper students for the school and surrounding community as a result of careful planning and consultation with the community. This project began on February 2009. Working under the direction of professional artist, Andrew Owen, and Ms. C. Holdaway, all art students were involved in this undertaking. This project was also open to non-art students who were interested in getting involved through afterschool sessions in the Art Room. 

Jomar Lanot Memorial Pole


The Memorial Pole Project came about as a result of the Appreciative Inquiry Story telling Feast that was held in February of 2006. Under the inspiration of Aboriginal Elders, community members and the wonderful stories that were told about best learning experiences, the idea of a pole project was born. It is a way to include Aboriginal culture as a central activity within the school and it links beautifully to the concept of the Hands of Hope, a theme that arose during the community healing process after the death of Jomar Lanot.  

Pole Origin

The log was a gift from the Kwantlen Nation, and with the guidance of Elders and community members.  

Story Telling and Planning

The Memorial Pole has provided Tupper with wonderful opportunities for participating in cross-curricular learning experiences. Tupper staff has been engaged in creating curricular experiences to enrich student knowledge and first hand experience of Aboriginal culture through the English, Social Studies and Fine Arts departments, with such activities as story telling, history, and the experience of planning, designing and actually carving.  

The Carving

About the carvers: Martin Sparrow is from the Musqueam Nation, and Joe Bolton is Haisla/Tsimshian. Martin sees this as a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community and to learn more about the Musqueam traditions and practices.  

The Painting

The key elements of the pole include: the watchman, the thunderbird and the bear, and a diversity section of faces and hands. The watchman is a keeper of the “Tupper house” and it is there to watch over the Jomars of this world. The thunderbird is the keeper of all spirits. The bear is called upon for strength. The carvers have interpreted the central part of the pole based upon Tupper student and staff feedback; the face represents cultural diversity, and the hands are a reflection the Hands of Hope, which come from the four directions and peoples of all nations; a rainbow completes the theme of diversity.  

The Pole Blessing Ceremony

A dedication of the pole as a memorial took place in December of 2006. This celebration of the blessing and the first-cut ceremony reflected the diversity of the Tupper community and Aboriginal Nations including Musqueam, Kwantlen and Tsimshian Nations, all Tupper staff and students, many parents, and dignitaries from the VSB.  

The Pole Raising: The Process

On June 15th, 2007 at 1:45 PM, Sir Charles Secondary School Tupper Community parents, students, staff along with special guests from the Aboriginal First Nations held a pole raising of the Jomar Lanot Memorial Pole . The procession was led by elders of the Musqueam Nation and included representatives and elders from several neighboring Aboriginal First Nations. Representatives from the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver School Board were also present including media from the CBC. Pole carriers and dignitaries were robed in cerimonial blankets in keeping with this ancient tradition.  

The Runners for the Pole Raising

Traditional and formal invitations for the Memorial Pole raising were sent out to special witnesses. Runners, in the Musqueum/Coast Salish tradition, were sent out to deliver the invitation to special witnesses on May 14, 2007. An open invitation was made to all the Tupper community to witness the raising of the Memorial Pole in honour of Jomar Lanot.  

The Pole Raising

It was with incredible community solidarity and communal witness that the Jomar Lanot Memorial Pole was raised after blessings and songs from First Nations elders were shared and witnessed by all present. The pole, which is considered in Musquem tradition as a sacred symbol of Jomar’s enduring spirit, will remain on the site for future generations under the care of Tupper and its neighboring community and all those who witnessed the pole raising or laid hands on the pole in its formation and making.   

The Tupper Neighborhood Greenway

The Tupper Neighborhood Greenway, the largest of its kind in Vancouver, officially opened Saturday June 7, 2008. This Greenway is the culmination of a four-year collaborative effort by Sir Charles Tupper Secondary School, Tupper students, the TINGA Community Group, and the City of Vancouver. The roots of the Greenway were born from sorrow at the loss of a Tupper student, Jomar Lanot, in November 2003. The Greenway is testimony to the power of resolve, hope, and the actions taken by youth to make our school and community safer. Tupper Integrated Neighbourhood Greenway Association activities have focused on further school/community involvement — working with Little Mountain Neighborhood House on youth engagement and leadership activities, community involvement in the Ethnic Garden; fundraising with local residents/businesses for scholarships/ special activities, and upcoming events such as “Community Planting Days”.
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