A long-lost tradition is getting new life breathed into it at Chilliwack secondary.
After a more than 10-year hiatus, the school is bringing back its grad car tradition – except this time, it won’t be a car for the grads, but rather a car for the entire school.
Tricked out at the hands of the Grade 12 girls.
“It’s gonna be so talked up,” said Grade 12 student Evelyn Appleton, who’s ready to get her hands dirty. “Everyone’s going to be so excited for it.”
None more so than teacher Steve Anderson, who’s been waiting years to bring the cars back to CSS.
“It’s something that we had that Sardis didn’t – it’s our thing,” said Anderson.
The original concept was started in 1996 when Anderson stumbled on a group of Grade 12 girls grumbling about how the guys get all the fun, how they get a grad car, and the girls don’t. Without missing a beat, Anderson asked if they, too, wanted a grad car.
“Instantly their mood changed,” he recalled.
For months Anderson and the girls worked on their car in secret, using code words in the halls, including “hotdog” for the car and “barbecue” for the restoration. They secured parts, tires, manpower, and body shop space through local businesses and hot rod enthusiasts. They detailed it, sanded it, painted it.
And on the day the Grade 12 boys revealed their car, a 1965 Cadillac Hearse, on the front lawn, the girls drove up in theirs – a 1980 Chevy Malibu, painted in the same blue as the boys with yellow and gold flames licking the hood and “Chix of ’96” painted on the side.
Thus, the tradition was born.
There was Rev ’N Girls of ’97, Ladies of ’80, Oh So Fine ’99, and Rousin Girls of 2000.
Shortly after, however, despite the years of fanfare it had received, the battle of the sexes tradition was phased out. But, for Anderson, it was never forgotten.
Unbeknownst to others, Anderson had hidden away a car for years with the intent of resurrecting the tradition.
And the new school, with the amped up student spirit, revved that engine.
“It’s time to take back our community,” said Anderson. “It’s time to show we’re here.”
Late last month Anderson got on the horn with the original crew of local businesses, body shops, parts dealers, hot rod enthusiasts, plus a few others, who all jumped on board.
The car, a 1988, 4-door, Cadillac, hard top, will be painted in traditional CSS blue and gold colours, with metallic flames, CSS Rocks painted on, and other in-your-face accents.
“It’s going to have major ‘wow!’ appeal,” said Anderson.
But this time will be different.
The Grade 12 girls, a group of about eight or 10, will still be the ones at the helm, but the car won’t be there’s, it will be the school’s. And the finished product won’t be revealed at grad time, as was the case years ago, but rather, for the school’s official grand opening on Feb. 28.
The plan for the car is to use it as an incentive for students, raffle off opportunities to be chauffeured to dances in the vehicle. And use it as a rallying point within the community, in parades, school fundraisers, etc..
Anderson believes it’s going to make the school stronger, tapping into its roots and traditions, and building on them. And for the girls working on the car, they believe it’s going to forever ingrain their names into their school.
“It’s a boat; I love it,” said Grade 12 student Hannah Hughes. “It’s going to make a huge name for our new school.”
And given the current grads were born in the year of the first car showcase in 1996, the tradition has come full circle.