by Dan Mullins
When Tom Rhymes retired from the LBPSB, he was quite clear he didn’t want a lot of attention. So how did he end up receiving a canoe at a reception in his honour?
The senior administrative team at Head Office unanimously agreed that something had to be done to celebrate the much-loved former principal of Riverdale High School and outgoing Assistant Director General on the occasion of his retirement. That’s where Superintendent Gina Clemenza stepped in to organize a small reception for Mr. Rhymes.
At the same time, behind the scenes other plans were developing. PCHS Teacher Peter Oland, who is a friend of Mr. Rhymes’ and who worked closely with him when they both worked at Riverdale, wrote to the LBPSB’s Director of Educational Services Mathieu Canavan. Mr. Oland suggested that the third cedar-strip canoe built by his woodworking class would be an appropriate and meaningful retirement gift. Mr. Canavan, another former Riverdale Principal, realized the suitability of the gesture, and passed the word along to the Directorate, where they had been trying to determine what to offer Mr. Rhymes as a token of the Board’s gratitude and appreciation.
On the day of the reception, which remained a surprise, Mr. Rhymes walked into the Board Room at Head Office to find tables and chairs set up and filled with many close colleagues, both present and past. He was even more surprised when Mr. Oland announced that he would be receiving the canoe as a thank-you gift from the school board.
The evening was a touching affair replete with fond memories, nostalgia and well wishes. The canoe will continue to be displayed in the central hallway of Head Office until later in the spring, when it will be moved to Mr. Rhymes’ home where he will undoubtedly have many occasions to put it to good use for years to come.
Happy Paddling, Mr. Rhymes.