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dan nicholson: there’s still life after retirement By Pat Mancuso ’90

“I came to St. Mike’s in 1988 after teaching 17 years at Our Lady of Assumption elementary school near Bathurst and Lawrence (Ed’s note: heck of an elementary school). I had taught Dan Prendergast’s daughter Erin at Assumption and had worked in a hockey organization with Paul Dignan ’59, so when I wanted to make a move, I knew who to call.” English teacher Dan Nicholson spent the next 14 years expounding on classics like Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and meticulously critiquing his students’ writing. The photography business he built working on weekends beginning in 1995, grew significantly after his retirement in 2002. Today, Dan takes pictures of hockey, baseball, soccer, and football teams across the city, posting the photos to his website sportsphotography.biz. Many of Dan’s photos have been used in the Tower yearbook, other publications, and the athletic corridor to commemorate team championships and other special events around the school. He is very proud that some of his photos were included on the beautiful new photographic collage wall in the Student Entrance. “It is nice to hear ex-students tell me that the picture I took of them in their St. Mike’s uniform is a cherished keep-sake. I was proud to coach many teams over the years as well. I knew that other teams looked at us as special because of who we were.”

NHL alumnus, Kevin Weekes, with Dan

Leaving our Legacy

securing our future by giving back: THE DOWNS FAMILY – PAUL ’66, CHRISTOPHER ’97 AND MATTHEW ’03

Sport continues to figure prominently in Dan’s travel and recreation. “My wife Sheila and I love to travel. We have gone on trips to various Major League Baseball parks and minor league cities with a professional company in Wisconsin. There are just four cities we have yet to get to in the National and American leagues. On the trips we also have time to do city tours, so we have seen many historic sites on our way to games. We go to Florida for spring training games as well as Disney Parks and other tourist attractions.” Dan has refereed hockey games since 1980 and also teaches at the Ivy Hockey Academy owned by St. Michael’s alumni Mark ’95, Steve ’97, and Dominic ’99 Moore. On weekends, he can often be found at trade shows bolstering his large collection of sports memorabilia. What is Dan’s fondest memory of his time at St. Michael’s? “The 2002 Graduation Ceremony in my retirement year, when Fathers Daniel Zorzi C.S.B. and Michael Lehman C.S.B. asked me to be the guest speaker at Holy Rosary Church. I looked at this task as being reserved for university presidents and high-level professionals. To have me do this in front of so many people in that hot church was a great honour. I will never forget that day.”

After a long career in education, Dan’s message to other retirees is to continue on with the things you love and enjoy. “It has been 12 years since I retired from full-time teaching and 43 years since I started in 1971. But once you are done with your career, life is not over; there are still many things to do. I will be 65 on my next birthday in March, but I feel as good as I did at the beginning of my career. I wouldn’t want to get to a certain age and look back saying I should have done this or that. I’m doing it. Age only holds you back if you let it.”

The Downs family connection with St. Michael’s College School started in 1936 when Paul’s ’66 uncle James G. Hawkins ’40 arrived at St. Michael’s. James was quickly followed by his brother, Robert Hawkins ’41. James and Robert were the youngest of five brothers; however, Jack, Frank and Joe had gone to work at an early age when their father passed away, as had Paul Downs’ mother, Margaret. Julia, the youngest in the Hawkins family continues to support the Downs Family Bursary annually. Paul’s brother John Downs ’61, picked up the torch, graduating from St. Michael’s College School before attending Queen’s University, where he obtained an Electrical Engineering degree. When Paul graduated from St. Michael’s five years later, he attended Lakeshore Teachers’ College, Wilfrid Laurier University (B.A.) and the University of Toronto (M.Ed.). In 1971, Paul married Kathy and they were blessed with three sons. The oldest, Christopher ’97 continued the St. Mike’s tradition, as did the youngest, Matthew ’03. Paul and Kathy have been donors to the school since 1999, supporting the Building Fund, Technology Fund, and Bursary Programme, along with attending various school events. In 2007, the Downs were approached with the request to assist the Building on Strong Foundations Capital Campaign, which included the Centre for the Arts, the Learning Enrichment Centre, and the SMCS Bursary Endowment. Paul, Kathy and their sons decided to create the Downs Family Bursary. According to Paul, “St. Michael’s means a tremendous amount to our family for the lessons of goodness, discipline and knowledge the school provided. The school also exemplifies a family and the core value of supporting one another. Many of my sons’ friends are still closely connected with each other, and with our family. This close knit, supportive spirit caused Kathy and I, and

our family, to establish the Downs Family Bursary at St. Michael’s College School.” Since 2008, the Downs Family Bursary has been awarded to a financially needy student at St. Michael’s College School who is receiving tuition assistance. This Bursary is renewable for each year the student attends St. Michael’s College School provided that he is receiving tuition assistance and maintains a minimum average of 75 per cent. The Bursary, which is used to offset tuition costs, continues to grow and the returns on its investments are used to continue the St. Michael’s legacy.

The true value of the bursary is summarized by Paul: “A friend of one of our sons was fortunate to be able to attend St. Michael’s in part because of the bursary assistance that he received and it was special for us to honour the friendship, which continues to this day. Hopefully, this bursary will enable other students to follow in his path.” Anyone is welcome to contribute to the Downs Family Bursary and all donations receive a tax receipt. St. Michael’s sincerely thanks the Downs family for their support of the Bursary Programme by establishing a bursary in perpetuity. Blue Banner | Fall/Winter 2013

Profile for SMCS Advancement

Blue Banner-V15-Fall/Winter 2013  

Blue Banner-V15-Fall/Winter 2013