Edward Milne Community School celebrated its 20th birthday last Thursday in traditional fashion: games, excitement, food, good company and laughs.
Rightfully so, after all it holds a special place in the hearts of many, who remember its gleaming design in vivid detail.
Trevor Bligh was just 20 when he started coaching basketball at EMCS 20 years ago, which, at the time its tall, airy hallways still had paint drying.
“It was exciting … that feeling of the gates opening up here was amazing,” Bligh said, adding that in its first year, the school had one of the best basketball seasons.
Yet it was much more than that. For Bligh, it was a feeling of being on equal ground with everyone else, and that Sooke finally had a school to show the world.
“That overall feeling, from the students, to the staff, to the community when we got this new building was fantastic, it was just a hum,” he said.
Of course, the new school wasn’t just all shine on the outside.
Stepping through the doors gave students a feeling of space, of freedom. Suddenly, it became a school that was loved and appreciated.
“We’ve hosted the city playoffs here, international basketball events, it’s been a great gym to us, and continues to be,” Bligh said.
As a coach, he also reveled in the (at the time) state-of-the-art gymnasium, which had a glass set of basketball backboards, as opposed to wooden ones found in the old school.
“The old EMCS was the last school on the Island to have wooden backboards,” Bligh laughed.
Running into his 21st year as coach, EMCS is more than just a school; it’s a community, and a growing one at that.
“It’s gotten bigger, we’ve got a lot more coaches, from our alumni, 50 per cent of them coached here or coached on at other high schools,” Bligh said.
While the gym has remained unchanged, additions include murals, as well as a centre court mural to add a little bit more identity. Just recently, a Welcome to EMCS sign has been added as well.
“It’s nice, it all adds more of a homely feeling.”