Confetti, marching band and throne set the tone for the send-off of Oak Bay High’s longest serving principal Tuesday.
Led by teacher Mike Sheffer, Dave Thomson was feted, roasted and gifted with tokens and song in an hour-long event.
Sheffer kicked the festivities off, telling students a few things he expected they didn’t know.
Thomson was born in Ontario, his dad was a member of parliament and he moved to Victoria in 1965, finishing high school in the area.
Thomson and his wife Twyla (who spent 16 years at Oak Bay High) have three children.
Thomson played football, baseball and hockey as well as lacrosse.
“Deep down, he’s a jock,” Sheffer said. “Here’s some stuff I know you don’t know. He’s in the sports hall of fame.”
Thomson was a member of the Mann Cup champion Shamrocks in 1979 – bringing home the national title after a 22-year drought.
References to Thomson quickly shifted to longtime nickname Lanny – for similarities to the bushy-’stached Lanny McDonald of NHL fame.
Thomson still holds lacrosse league records including top three in most minor penalties in one playoff year and top three in game or match misconducts in a playoff season.
“I checked with some veteran Shamrocks and you don’t get ejected from games for tripping, back then you didn’t get ejected from games for fighting so exactly what he did we won’t discuss here … but if you need someone to watch your back when things get tough, that’s the guy for the job,” Sheffer said.
He turned the mic over to a handful of other teachers, including Jeff Weaver, director of bands.
“(Thomson) gives people chances and he opens up doors and he quietly does it a lot of the time. There’s more than one of us in here that has this man to thank for helping us get started and make great pathways,” Weaver said.
The biggest door opened the fall of 2015 with the new school.
“Without his careful input, planning and hard work we would not have incredible spaces that we have, including the incredible fine arts wing,” Weaver said. “It’s hard to believe a jock who has that many penalties can also be a die hard (arts) fanatic.”
After trying on a signed Oak Bay High jersey, donning an Oak Bay letter jacket and testing out a new set of old Oak Bay High theatre seats decked in athletic jerseys in the standard Oak Bay green, Thomson himself took the mic to lead the address to the “leaders” in the room.
“We have to know the difference between honesty and truth. We have to understand what truth is. We have to know that the world can now anonymously tell us stories and we have to figure out whether those stories are true. People are inherently honest for the most part … the problem with the world now is we’re told things we don’t get to hear face to face. So I’m encouraging all of you as students who are going to make this world a better place, healthy skepticism isn’t a bad thing. It’s OK to question. It’s OK to dissent. … Try and avoid becoming cynical about your world and your life … cynicism is almost like an illness that cripples you and I don’t want anyone in this room to fall into that trap.
“You can create your own serendipitous opportunities by avoiding the cynicism; by believing in yourself and the others around you by caring and loving the people that you’re with; by looking to do good not harm; by making sure that you represent yourself always by being truthful to you. Truth is more important than honesty. Be truthful to yourself and you’ll probably never go wrong.”