Gone to SEED (the alternative high school reunion)

Joni Mitchell was wrong. We can return. We did return. We gathered from hither and yon on Saturday, November 10, 2012, for Gone to SEED (the ’68–’70s reunion). And a mighty fine time was had by all.

But first some history.

Toronto in 1968 was home to ‘Jacques Brel is Alive and Well’, Barbara Streisand’s ‘Funny Girl’, and Seiji Ozawa conducting the TSO. The air was thick with weed smoke and Iron Butterfly’s ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’. Not trusting anyone over the age of thirty, we wondered where all the flowers went and looked at life from both sides now. We were getting together and loving everybody right now as Suzanne took our hands, leading us to the river to greet the dawn with good morning starshines. We boycotted grapes and lettuce from California and protested against the Viet Nam War in solidarity with our American student counterparts.

The May 1968 issue of Toronto Life pondered the anti-establishment Yorkville hippie revolution, comparing it to the explosion of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury. Meanwhile, wildcat strikes that grew out of student unrest across the pond crippled Paris for weeks. The Toronto spring 1968 newspapers were predicting record high summer unemployment for students. Toronto constituents began asking for solutions to avert potential mayhem.

S.E.E.D. (Summer for Experience) was conceived in the spring of 1968 to keep the Toronto youth off the Yorkville streets. I was one young student who participated that first summer. And it was such a wonderful experience that we kept it going after 4:00 pm weekdays and on Saturdays for two years. We changed the status quo education system that was numbing our young minds. I realize that I have been pushing envelopes ever since.

I began wondering — 40+ years later — what became of my fellow SEEDlings. The short story is that we found each other, created Gone to SEED, and had our first reunion. Better late than never, indeed.

We were fortunate to have with us original administrator Les Birmingham, first coordinator Murray Shukyn, second coordinator Bob Beardsley, summer ’71 coordinator Mike McLuhan, and the beloved English teacher Gord Jocelyn. We remembered the late Ying Hope who was Chairman of the Board of Education in ’68. We helped campaign to elect Fiona Nelson as school trustee. She told us how back then she was one rookie school trustee amongst other rookie trustees who came onto the school board together, creating the groundswell of support we needed to realize S.E.E.D. (Shared Experience, Exploration, and Discovery). So it was that in 1970 S.E.E.D. became the first legitimate alternative public education option for high school students — not only in Toronto, but all of North America.

What interests me now is how fundamental SEED was to our diverse careers and life paths. I look forward to exploring these curiosities further. In the meantime, I thank everyone who worked to make Gone to SEED a reality. And I thank all the SEEDlings who attended this special evening.

Did you go to SEED? Search for us on LinkedIn by listing SEED (or  S.E.E.D.) as one of your schools. Find each other and connect with us in LinkedIn and by email to seedreunion@gmail.com.


Posted by Mary H. Auerbach Rykov, President-for-Life (self-appointed), Gone to SEED, the 2012 reunion.

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