When growing up in Throne and Coronation, Stuart Gilliard was an avid reader, his imagination fuelled by his mother, a teacher.
That love of reading and his wild imagination led him to writing stories, which in turn became scripts, and Gilliard eventually found himself in Hollywood, his name attached to some big screen and small screen successes.
He flew in from Toronto to accept one of the two 2015 Clearview Award of Merits, presented by school board trustee Ken Checkel.
Gilliard’s credits include RocketMan, Ninja Turtles III, Beauty and the Beast (television), 90210, One Tree Hill, Charmed and Lonesome Doves, to name a few. He is currently the executive producer and director for CBS studio’s Beauty and the Beast and lives in Montecito, Calif.
After he graduated from the University of Alberta, Gilliard became one of 12 candidates who studied at the National Theatre School in Montreal, Que., and then headed to Seattle, before coming back to Canada.
“I’m very excited to be here,” Gilliard told the assembled guests. “The last time I was in Stettler, I was a high school senior. Me and some buddies decided we could walk to Stettler to Coronation, and took bets we could do it in 20 hours.”
He admitted alcohol fuelled the group’s optimism.
“I took some side bets that I could do it in 15 (hours),” he added. “Twenty-two hours later, we fell into Castor, tired, cold,” and with sore feet.
The adventure wasn’t over then, as the group then went to a dance that was going on in Castor, and he was asked to dance by one of the prettiest girls there.
“When I stood up to get up, my leg cramped and I fell over,” he said with a laugh, the audience joining him.
Gilliard was joined in the Clearview Award of Merit circle by Linda McLean, who today is an in-demand and internationally recognized business and life coach, business owner and author of a No. 1 best-selling book, Next Level Living – Today’s Guide for Tomorrow’s Abundant Life.
Like Gilliard, McLean grew up in Coronation and attempted the school there, the youngest of six children. She became involved in all sorts of athletic activities, but loved riding her horses more than others.
McLean was unable to attend the event to receive the award, but members of her family were present to do so in her stead. She recorded a video, which was played for all.
In her video, she especially thanked several of her teachers, who encouraged her throughout her school career, especially one who encouraged her to go into teaching herself.
Though she never became a school teacher, what she does today, McLean said in her video, very much fills the vision of what her teacher had suggested for her.
As part of the evening, Clearview staff were awarded small presents honouring their years of service to the school board, starting at five years and going as high as 35 years.
Teacher Michael Kocher was recognized for his nomination to represent Clearview at the Edwin Parr Awards, which recognize first-year teachers who show initiative and dedication. Though Kocher was not selected to represent the region of which Clearview is a part, his work was such that Clearview recognized him at the event.
Kocher accepted his award and noted that it is only because Clearview is so forward-thinking that he’s been able to thrive and bring out the projects he’s engaged his students with, as some of them have been done outside of school hours and were designed to teach students to use cutting-edge technology.
His positive outlook has helped his students adopt a similar outfit, the gathering was told, and that was one of the best things about Kocher.
Kocher has developed a project-based curriculum to help teach physics, participates in the Breakfast for Learning program, and volunteers his time.
Also recognized this year were those who were retiring, teachers and support staff alike. Many of the retirees this year were bus drivers, meaning that next year, students might see some new faces behind the bus driver’s wheel.