Travel in time with PJP’s alumni nights

Rene Jansen, 46, co-ordinator of the PJP's alumni nights and school liaison.For some Pope John Paul II C.S.S. alumni, Tuesday nights are not your average ordeal.

Every Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m., up to 50 alumni gather in their former high school’s gymnasium to play basketball and volleyball. Some also prefer to exercise in the weight room.

Rene Jansen, 46, co-ordinator of the alumni nights and school liaison, started organizing this weekly get-together of PJPII alumni in September of last year.

“The alumni nights give you a sense of the respect for the traditions that were established 25 years ago. This is what strengthens the future and what carries the school forth,” Jansen says.

The slogan of the alumni nights “Look Great for ’08” perfectly encompasses what this event is all about.

“It’s a good night to get some physical activity in there. Everybody could use some more exercise. It’s something different than just going to the gym and working out all the time,” explains Adrian Falcon, 32, a PJPII alumnus from the graduating class of 1993.

Falcon, who lives in east Toronto and has a bachelor degree in physical and health education from the University of Toronto, says he prefers playing basketball on Tuesdays.

“It’s all about the gym. I was a big gym rat went I went to Pope. Mr. Jansen was my coach for basketball,” recalls Falcon.

Now a senior manager at a collections company in west Toronto, Falcon appreciates taking a break from his busy career to catch up with old school mates and to exercise.

“They have more artwork now, which I think is pretty cool. There are more athletic pictures up on the gymnasium walls — none of me, by the way,” jokes Falcon as he sorts through memories from his high school years.

A geography, physical education and leadership teacher, Jansen says he enjoys reconnecting with former students every Tuesday night.

“It’s great because I get to see students I coached back in the late 80s or early 90s. I coached them as juniors and now they’re off doing their own careers,” says Jansen, who has worked at the school since 1986.

Jansen also says the alumni nights are a great symbol for PJPII high school.

“The alumni nights give you a sense of the respect for the traditions that were established 25 years ago. This is what strengthens the future and what carries the school forth.”

What’s in store next for the school’s alumni nights?

“Some alumni want to add table tennis and floor hockey in the cafeteria. I’d be totally open to have 10 different activities going on every Tuesday night,” Jansen says. “I’d welcome the alumni to even bring their kids by and do some arts and crafts.”

Jansen and the PJPII Alumni Association Council will be hosting a 25th anniversary reunion party in October 2008. The committee is currently looking for alumni volunteers to assist with the planning of the event. If you’re interested in assisting or have any questions, contact the school at 416-393-5531.