Saanich Police Chief Bob Downie and retired Spectrum Community School principle and teacher Denis Harrigan are helping launch the first Spectrum Alumni dinner at Esquimalt’s Wardroom on Oct. 13. See also Chief’s retirement, Page A3. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Guess which Spectrum grad chose policing over television

Saanich Police chief to talk at Spectrum’s first Alumni Association fundraiser

– The Alumni Association date was corrected in this story to Oct. 13. The Saanich News regrets the error.

When current Saanich Police chief Bob Downie arrived at Colquitz junior high as a 15-year-old, he brought a little teenaged attitude with him.

His family had just relocated from Nova Scotia, and Downie was the new kid in town, a far different person than Saanich’s longest serving police officer.

RELATED: Chief Downie pockets $378,790 in severance, returns with new contract

“I’m pretty sure I was slumped over in the chair during a meeting with the principal and my mom, registering for the school,” Downie recalled. “After she talked to the principal he looked at me and said, ‘I don’t know how they do it in Nova Scotia but in B.C. you don’t have to go to school, so don’t bother coming unless you’re going to show up on time and take it serious.’

“I straightened up in the chair and that set me straight for the rest of high school,” Downie said.

About a year later Downie was at Spectrum Community School, which served only Grades 11 and 12. When Downie graduated in 1979 he’d been the master of ceremonies for all school assemblies, was a fixture on the rugby team and theatre program and was set on a career in television or radio. He’d even joined the cheerleading team with a couple of other boys for fun, but also to break the stereotype of the time.

Downie is one four accomplished Spectrum alumni who will speak at the first Spectrum Alumni Association fundraiser, Friday, Oct. 13 at the CFB Esquimalt Wardroom.

The other three grads are Wendy Tilby (1978), a renowned animator and three-time Academy Award nominee and Cannes Palme d’Or winner, Andre Eng (1988), businessman, entrepreneur, and president of House of Knives, and Shanice Marcelle, who won five-straight national volleyball championships with UBC and was the CIS 2013 athlete of the year for all sports.

The banquet itself is a fundraiser for the Spectrum Community School Scholarship Fund, said Denis Harrigan, a former principal and teacher who remembers teaching Downie in 1979.

Downie’s current office assistant at Saanich Police, Heather Putney (Caldwell), also graduated from Spectrum in 1979.

For Harrigan, Spectrum was full circle. He started teaching their in 1979 and retired as its principal.

“Other high school alumni associations in town have started and have been putting together great scholarship opportunities for their current students,” Harrigan said. “We plan to create a wall of distinguished alumni along one of these hallways. The hope is students will see that you can go places from Spectrum, this isn’t just a school it’s a launch pad, there’s lots of ways to make your mark.”

The Spectrum Alumni Association fundraiser is Oct. 13 at the CFB Esquimalt Wardroom, 1586 Esquimalt Rd., beginning at 6 p.m.

The night will include a silent auction, door prizes and music from the Spectrum Jazz Band. Tickets are $100 and will include a $50 tax receipt, available online at spectrumalumni.com/alumni-dinner.

reporter@saanichnews.com

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