KSS Legacy Wall

KSS Legacy Wall
Posted on 11/11/2022

The KCVI-QECVI Legacy Wall is a visual representation of an important history. "It is the history of history in education, as the oldest public secondary school in Ontario (KCVI), and one of the first technical schools (QECVI)," explains Joanne Whitfield, a teacher-librarian recently retired from Kington Secondary School and KCVI, and a member of the Legacy Project.

Following the decision to consolidate the former Kingston Collegiate & Vocational Institute (KCVI) and the former Queen Elizabeth Collegiate & Vocational Institute into Kingston Secondary School (KSS), members of the KCVI community began preserving the history of both schools and making it accessible to the KSS community and the public within the KCVI-QECVI Legacy Project.

Ms. Whitfield along with former KCVI and QECVI educators Kevin Reed, Tim Orpin and Chris Vanluven worked tirelessly over the last three years preserving important documents, registers, correspondence, memorabilia, and media collected over the lifetime of the two schools.

It was their dedication to their students and colleagues that inspired them to crawl through a century-old vault, basements, and storage rooms to discover a treasure trove of items that teachers and administrators had kept over the years, including the astonishing find of the principal's correspondence from 1918-1929 and 1939-1945.

What the Legacy Project members learned going through all the historical documents and memorabilia, Whitfield says, "...was at the start you see a school that has boys and a bit of money, and over time you arrive at a school where everyone is welcome. And that is the lesson, I think that you learn, when you look at that history." And it is the lesson she wanted students to learn. "Curating the historical documents, and memorabilia is for the students."

There are many artifacts that were kept, items that the committee knew could be properly cared for and could tell a story to the students. There were also items they knew they could not take care of because the school is not a museum. "Students come to library, and they look at these historical objects, and they use these objects to learn the history of the school, and by learning about the history of the school, they can see all the influences from the outside," adds Whitfield.

The Legacy Project is a collection of curated historic artifacts and documents housed in the KSS Library. There are several online catalogues that highlight each schools’ rich history and important contributions.

A vital part of the project was to create a permanent installation within KSS, where students, staff and visitors could reflect and appreciate the roots of Kingston Secondary School well into the future.

The Legacy Wall encapsulates 200 years of student life. Ms. Whitfield and Mr. Reed meticulously selected images and stories that would portray the legacies created by the two schools, and the thousands of students and staff who learned, lived, and played in those communities. They sorted through one hundred years of yearbooks and historical documents and sought memories from former students of the schools to create the wall display. 

Darlene Scarlett, Principal of KSS, concludes "I have only been involved in the project since March of 2021, but I have been amazed by the dedication and hours that Joanne, Kevin Tim and Chris have dedicated to the project. It would not have happened without them."

Kingston Secondary School opened to students on December 15, 2020. The new school brought together secondary students from the former Kingston Collegiate & Vocational Institute (KCVI) and former Queen Elizabeth Collegiate & Vocational Institute (QECVI) and relocated Grade 7 and 8 intermediate French Immersion/Extended French students from Module Vanier.

This Legacy Project was made possible because of funding and support from the Government of Canada, the City of Kingston, the Kingston Association of Museums, Art Galleries and Historic Sites, the KCVI Bicentennial Fund, the KCVI Legacy Fund, the Limestone District School Board, and the Limestone Learning Foundation.

Local design firms 1dea Design and Gilmore Reproductions facilitated the design concept of the Legacy Wall.