A group of Grade 11 and 12 students at Trenton High School (THS) is involved in a unique construction/woodworking project: students are refurbishing an outhouse that belonged to Canadian poet Al Purdy (1918 – 2000).
The construction/woodworking project has connections to the school and the community. The two parties came together though Eric Lorenzen, a THS teacher who is chairperson of the committee to name the school library.
At the school, a process is underway to name the school library the Al Purdy Library. Purdy was a THS student from 1933 to 1936. He was a two-time Governor General’s Award winner for poetry (1965 and 1986), appointed to the Order of Canada in 1982 and the Order of Ontario in 1987. He was born in Wooler, Ontario in 1918 and lived most of his life in Ameliasburgh, Prince Edward County. Records indicate he was not a particularly good student, having dropped out of school in 1936 at age 17 to ride the rails to Western Canada. He was a voracious reader and spent many happy hours in the THS library reading books. A dedication gala is scheduled for Thursday, April 21, 2011, which is the anniversary of his death and the date of national Al Purdy Day commemorations. The event will feature visits to THS by several prominent Canadian authors.
In addition, two English classes and two Writer’s Craft classes are working on projects related to Purdy’s life and work, with student work to be featured at the library dedication. A senior Art class is also working on a major art installation inspired by Purdy which will be permanently installed in the THS library and unveiled at the opening.
In the community, the Al Purdy A-frame Project is underway to restore Purdy’s home in Ameliasburgh for use as a writer’s residence for young Canadian writers. Jean Baird, heading community project, contacted school officials to ask if there would be interest in student involvement. The most urgent need was to refurbish Purdy’s outhouse. Construction Technology Teacher Ron Furlan and Woodworking Teacher Jay Noack jumped at the opportunity! The Al Purdy A-frame Trust will be funding the restoration.
According to Purdy’s wife, Eurithe Purdy, the outhouse was one of Purdy’s favourite places to sit and think, and he kept using it long after the A-frame acquired indoor plumbing. Before indoor plumbing had been installed, he would specify that a visitor could use the outhouse only if he/she would sign the wall!
Trenton High School  is a community school where students can achieve success in a positive, character-based, safe and supportive environment. Effective partnerships with parents and our community create a shared commitment to support students in all program pathways. The diversity of programs and facilities offer all students many opportunities to learn and prepare for their future. THS offers such programs as Catering, Music Theatre, Aesthetics, Outer Limits, an Alternative Campus, the Business of Hockey, specialized Communications Technology and E-Learning. THS is are very proud of its tradition of excellence and the sense of pride shared with the community.