After the presentation of a card and gift from the School Board, the gathering quickly turned into a roast, with several former colleagues bringing up fond – and not so fond – memories of the past. Secretary Treasurer Doug Boyd recalled his many pranks, and the subsequent retaliations, including when he left a note on a book in a teacher prep room that said, “Could you review this for me and let me know how it would work in the math department?” signed Doug Boyd.
“The next day [the math department head] shows up in my office and says, ‘Doug, I don’t know what the hell this has to do with math,” and I said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking… ESPE!” Boyd told the group.
“He read the whole book!” chuckled Espe.
Espe’s replacement, Superintendent Dave Sloan, added another from when Espe would end the daily announcements with a joke, normally at the expense of the grade 10 boys.
“That all stopped the day he told a joke about the grade 10 boys who had been out hunting, and had been following the same tracks for over two hours, and were still looking at the tracks when the train ran them over,” he said. “There was a steady stream of very anxious kindergarten students to the office wanting to know which one of their cousins had been hit by the train!”
Jokes aside, Espe was best remembered as a boy from Montney, with a love for hockey, that wears his heart on his sleeve, and worked his hardest to improve the school district. He was thanked by both the Peace River North Teacher Association and the District Board Trustees, and after a few knocks, was praised by District Clerical Trainer & International Admissions Cheryl Anthony.
“Larry has evolved through it all, always supporting innovation, and what’s best for students. For Larry, it’s about the people. Titles come and go, as do hairlines and waistlines,” she joked.
After all the accolades and jests, Espe had his chance to speak, telling the crowd what he felt was the most important thing he learned in his time in education.
“It’s easy to be loved by and love the kids on the honour roll club and the basketball team, and the peer leaders and all the leadership class, but it’s the kid in the stairwell with the hoodie and the piercings sitting by himself that not only needs to be loved by you, but needs to love you.”
Although he now works for the provincial government, Espe remains in Fort St. John with his family.