The flag flew at half-staff at the Colleen and Gordie Howe Middle School in Abbotsford, British Columbia, following the passing of its namesake, “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe on Friday at age 88. The school also observed a moment of silence.
The school is the only one named after Howe and the school motto — “Hope – Opportunity – Wonder – Excellence” — plays off the letters in his name.
The school opened on Sept. 1, 2001. At the time, the Abbotsford School Board determined that it wanted to name new schools after Canadians who were “positive and inspirational role models for their students.”
When the decision was made to name the school after the Howes, chool Board Chair John Smith told the Abbotsford Times, “The Howe name stands for a strong sense of family, the importance of positive adult role models and a commitment to the positive development of children.”
Colleen and Gordie attended the grand opening on Jan. 18, 2002. Colleen, a longtime advocate for many charitable causes, died in 2009.
“He was so proud to have his name and his wife’s name on this school,” teacher Paul Giesbrecht recalled Friday in a video posted by the Abbotsford Times. “He insisted on having his wife’s name on the school because he said without her, I wouldn’t have become who I was. …
“He was real old school. He didn’t act like a celebrity at all. He was just a regular farm boy from Saskatchewan who loved what he did, loved his family, loved being a part of the school, loved children. It was just a thrilling day.”
Among the athletic alumni of the school is Sophie Schmidt, who won a bronze medal in the 2012 Olympics with the Canadian women’s soccer team.