Sunday, April 10, 2011

I remember, I remember - School Days

Well, we had quite a ways to walk to school. Six city blocks, which was just a hop and a skip and a jump and a good time to play marbles in good weather, but a long way in the depths of prairie winters. These were not the days when girls wore slacks to school, so it was long underwear and ribbed lisle stockings, - such glamour.

There were no school buses, - occasionally we took the street car, but I never remember the schools being closed on account of weather!

We wended our way down wooden sidewalks and through short cuts where the land was still wooded. In June the last pathway to the school was bordered with wild roses - pure delight.

Walking to school was sometimes an adventure. I remember once being sent to the principals's office for tarrying too long on the way back from lunch, playing marbles. When the weather was good we went home for lunch, - good exercise. When it was bad we ate our lunches downstairs in the basement/cum gym, - a dismal spot.

I was almost seven when I started school on account of just missing the cut-off by one day! But I skipped Grade Two, so kind of caught up. We had an excellent teacher in the first grade, - we all loved her and she prepared a number of students for Grade Three work and they all went on and prospered.

I don't remember a great deal about starting school, although some of the pupils stir in my memory occasionally. Walter Ewenson, who kissed me, and Fae Dodds and her cousin Nina. And Doris Holland, who shocked us all by saying 'damn' and whose parents were Scottish. And sweet Norah Copeland and Viola Cramer - and Phenetta Prior who beat me out when it came to strange names.

I was a good student and loved school. I loved learning, and I loved to read - during the day and under the covers at night with a flashlight. The poetry I learned at school enriches my life still, and yet we didn't have the exposure to books that children have today. We had a library at school, but it was for the teachers, not the students, and the only time I remember being in it was when I was reprimanded by the principal for letting someone copy from my paper!

There were no Field Trips. We did play basketball and baseball, and we had inter-school sports days when we reached High School - but certainly nothing as frivolous as badminton or exchange trips to other countries - or even other cities or provinces.

And the teachers didn't have ProD days, or Spring Breaks. We went to class from 9 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon, and if you graduated from Grade 12 in Alberta you had the equivalent of Grade 13 in British Columbia. That was the compensation, - a good education.

I wasn't too popular with the baseball crowd and dreaded having to play, - no coordination I guess. Some of the girls were reall whizzes at baseball, but I consoled myself with thinking that they were 'tough' and they probably were, but I have learned over the years that this is not so much of a drawback as I thought it was then!

Being good scholastically wasn't all roses and honey, but after grade school it gave me a bit more confidence. Beyond Grade School meant High School, - a conglomeration of all the academic students in Grade 10, 11 and 12 from a number of schools in the East End and Highlands. When you left Grade 9 you had a choice of schools, depending upon the career you planned to follow, commercial, technical or academic. It was a system that seemed to serve admirably, and one that was easy on a student's self esteem. It is available after High School Graduation now, but I often think there would be pluses to having the same system after Middle School, as students mature earlier and are so often frustrated with subjects that have no relevance to their future.

I found that in High School I was not always at the top of the class, but my world widened considerably - new friends, new interests and new Boys!!

And I finally found my niche in the sporting world, - I could run, and I could jump, and I even got to go to Sports Days and bring home ribbons.

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