A former Penticton Secondary student wants the gymnasium named after retired teacher Keith Allen. (Submitted photo)

Petition started to name gym after popular South Okanagan teacher

Keith Allen left an impression with many students over his career

He has shaken the hands and the lives of thousands of Penticton Secondary School students, now one of Keith Allen’s former students wants to do something to recognize the impact he left with so many.

Kevin Hill, who graduated in 1979, said he is just one of hundreds of students that Allen left an impression on during his 32 years as a teacher and a coach. He also spearheaded a petition calling for the gym at Penticton Secondary School to be named after Allen.

“During my grad year, I am willing to bet I shook his hand over 100 times. He would always make it a point to be walking the hallways during class changes and calling people, ‘you old hound dog.’ Everyone knew that when you are getting teased by Coach Allen then you had really gotten some place in life,” said Hill. “When he retired his wife and daughter went through all the wallet-sized school photos students had given him over the years and it filled an album to the point it must have been about six inches thick. Students would write on the back thanking Coach Allen for helping them through a tough time or being there when they needed him. I am getting choked up here just talking about it, he is a pretty amazing person.”

READ MORE: Humanitarian work earns Penticton teacher Unsung Citizen award

Hill first met Allen when he graduated to the school from Princess Margaret (which only went to Grade 10 at the time). Allen was his physical education teacher and assistant coach of the football team.

“In terms of what he has done for me, I would say everything. I took from him what I never got from my own dad into my adult life,” said Hill. “He was the type of guy that always had these dad type jokes … I remember when I had a good tackle on the football field he would grab my facemark and say, ‘you are the ugliest old hound dog I have ever seen.’ Coaching football myself a number of years later it is exactly what I started doing. You knew when he called you that it meant, hey man I care about you.”

READ MORE: Tears and laughter celebrate Bruce Johnson’s life

Allen was also very involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and was featured in a video that tells the story of how he and his wife landed in Penticton from Iowa and the impacts he has made over the years helping kids through athletics.

Hill has set a goal of getting 500 people to sign the online petition at change.org, titled Name the Pen-Hi gym, the Keith Allen gymnasium. As of Monday, over 500 people have signed it. Hill said he got the idea after someone he knew posted a photo of Allen on Facebook saying, ‘guess who?’ Within 48 hours Hill said it had generated over 145 comments from people sharing their stories about the teacher.

Hill has sent a letter to the City of Penticton council looking for any support for his cause and has contacted the school board.

“Too many of these honours are given posthumously. I want to do this while he is still in good health and living in the area,” said Hill.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


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