CCHS Wall of Fame class led by trailblazers
Ecole Camrose Composite High School inducted their Wall of Fame class for 2017 on Friday with Donna Coombs, Leonard Greenwood and Norman Daley going in as distinguished alumnus and Gary Vornbrock going in as distinguished faculty in Camrose on Nov. 17. Josh Aldrich/Camrose Canadian/Postmedia Network
Jim Ofrim describes Gary Vornbrock as a teacher ahead of his time, as someone who had the greater good of the school and the students at the forefront of the way he approached his job.
It is because of this that the former vice principal and science teacher at École Camrose Composite High School was inducted into the school’s Wall of Fame on Nov. 17.
He was joined by distinguished alumnus Donna Coombs, Dr. Leonard Greenwood and Norman Daley as inductees.
Vornbrock said it was an honour to be inducted, though he got just as much out of working there as the students got from him.
“When I was teaching, I wasn’t growing older because every year the Grade 9s were always Grade 9 and the Grade 12s were always Grade 12,” he said. “That interaction with that constant stream of youth is what kept me going and I loved it.”
Vornbrock, 72, taught in Camrose from 1979 until he retired in 2005.
Ofrim, the selection committee chairman, worked Vornbrock while both were vice principals. He saw every day how much he put into the development of his students by spending extra time working with them and always looking for new ways to engage them.
Sometimes it was a matter of just getting their attention through a science experiment that involved blowing up a paint can.
He was also dedicated to his fellow teachers and always had evaluation tools, tests and lesson plans on hand for young educators needing help.
“He would open up his files and hand out materials,” said Ofrim. “It’s so good for the well-being of the school when everybody is willing to share and help each other. Being a teacher is a tough job so if we can make it easier for other teachers, it’s pretty important.”
Greenwood graduated from ECCHS in 1972 and eventually found his calling working with troubled youth in several different capacities. After time in Brooks, he moved to Fort St. John, B.C. to become an addictions counsellor and then on to Winnipeg in 1989 where he earned a Master of Arts in and his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology in 1996. The focus of his practice eventually shifted to youth mental health, addictions recovery, and a broad general practice for children and adults. He has a special emphasis for mistreated and abused children, youth and adults.
Greenwood continues to work in a clinical setting, and is also an assistant professor of psychology faculty at the University of Manitoba.
Coombs graduated in 1977 and has spent her time since blazing trails, including becoming the first female officer in the hired by the Camrose Police Service in 1979. A year later and she moved on to the Calgary police Service where she spent the next 14 years where she earned letters of commendation from three senior officers. However, in 1995, she was a casualty of budget cuts. She and her family relocated to Camrose where she embarked on a new career at Transmission Express, as the first female in a traditionally male workplace. She rebuilt transmissions until a shoulder injury forced her to go back to school where she earned her business administration assistant diploma.
She started working for Service Options for Seniors as an executive assistant and became executive director in 2007.
Daley graduated from CCHS in 1979 and eventually earned a bachelor of commerce degree in 1986 he moved to Kamloops. B.C., and completed his articles as a chartered accountant in 1988. In 1991, he set out on his own and started a one-man practice. His firm Daley and Company LLP Chartered Accountants is now the largest accounting firm in Kamloops with more than 45 employees. The firm has a strong focus on volunteering and charitable work in the community and he coached minor sports when his children were young. He has received many honours for his commitment to community including the B.C. Community Service Award and the Sport B.C. Kaizen Award.
The Wall of Fame is intended as a means to recognize former students and staff for their accomplishments and their service to others, as a way to get them back into the school, and as a way to impart some wisdom on current students.
“We always invite students to come and participate in the ceremony,” said Ofrim. “There’s an opportunity for them to get four graduation speeches in an hour, listening to the inductees.”
The committee collects nominations through February and then they get together starting in march to start the process of deciding who to induct. Nominations are open to the public and there are forms available through the CCHS website.
The school also held its annual awards night on Nov. 17, to recognize the students of 2017. The school honoured 151 honours students — 25 in Grade 9, 51 in Grade 10, 47 in Grade 11, and 28 in Grade 12 — while also handing out awards and scholarships for everything from academic excellence to community and character awards to Athletic awards.
“Those kids are working their butt off to make sure they get top marks,” said Doug Algar, the Awards night organizer. “There are the occasional kids where it comes easy to, but for the most part they are working really hard just to get those honours.”