In December I am attending a school closure—not something I would usually do, but this school is special, it was the one I attend as child for 8 years. The school is a little country school and like so many, declining numbers has made it not viable to remain open. The school was officially opened in 1879, only to be destroyed in the 1983 bushfires (known as the Ash Wednesday bushfires) that ripped through the Hills destroying many homes and properties. After 8 years attending this little country school I thought about its impact on my life—what do I remember, good or bad about those 8 years. Quite a bit. Some of it completely trivial others had a greater impact on my life, not that the teachers at the time realized!
- Cucumber sandwiches and warm milk: Anyone who went to school in Australia in the 1970’s should remember the warm milk—as part of government policy of making sure we all drank enough milk, milk in glass bottles were delivered every morning and left in the sun (yes, in the middle of summer) and given to us at recess time (10:30am) — the milk was warm with a layer of fat on the top — it was HORRIBLE. As for the cucumber sandwiches— our school bags with their lunch boxes inside were left outside in the sun, it is amazing we didn’t all die from food poisoning! When cucumber gets hot and the butter melts in the bread it makes for one very nasty sandwich that smelt of warm cucumber — yuck!
- Poetry and stories: The school principle (and one of my teacher) loved stories and poetry and each week would read to the class such books as "Storm Boy" and "Sun on the Stubble" and thanks to Mr C I still love these books and the poetry he shared with us. It was a wonderful gift to pass on to his students.
- Marching and dancing: Mr C loved marching music and to keep us fit we would learn marching steps that we performed on the tennis court and show all the parents our choreographed performance. The prize position was the head of the marching row, I so much wanted that position, I finally did when I reached year 7. Mr C also taught us to dance (waltz's, square dancing..) it was sort of fun but I always got the boy who had warts on his hand I didn’t like that. I never got the 2 gorgeous boys in the class!!
- Dictation and reading: I can’t express how much I hated reading and dictation at school. Firstly reading was done in groups, reading aloud. Now this was fine for anyone who liked reading aloud, as a very poor reader it was 45 minutes of embarrassment and confidences destruction. Dictation was a once a week test—10 words and a paragraph, all to be memorized the night before. I rarely passed this test and certainly didn’t improve my spelling. To make it worse Mr C would read out aloud the marks so everyone knew who had failed. Did nothing to my confidences — what was Mr C thinking!
- Sport: I loved running the 100m (couldn’t do it any more) and in year 7 I won the inter-schools sports day 100 m race. I was over the moon. It was one thing I excelled in and could represent the school.
- Shoes and dresses: There are 2 incidences at school that I have never forgotten—the day I wore my slippers to school and was teased by all my classmates and the day I wore a beautiful pretty pale blue dress to school that I just loved and some horrible boys told me it was made of toilet paper as the fabric was crinkly. I never wore that dress again and I was so upset. I can remember these as clear as day.
I had many hours of fun at primary school and still remain life time friends with 2 of the girls I knew from the days we were in cradles, but I was not a clever student and struggled with many of my classes and sadly these are some of the memories I have of school. It was tough not being bright!!
School days by Jessie Wilcox-Smith