Thursday, December 9, 2010

School Pride....with a Touch of Envy

I was raised in a small community in the Adelaide Hills, known for growing apples and pears (although known as much for growing grapes these days). My mother's family came from England and settled there around 160 years ago, and many of the 'old' names are related to me in some way. I've always felt incredible pride that my family have such a long association with the area, and have always wanted to live there, but alas, I married someone who grew up at the beach and he finds the winters in the Hills too cold (wuss!!). Couple this with the fact that there is no subdivision as it's a water catchment area, so most properties come with a hefty price tag to go with the vast tracts of land.....anyway, it never happened. My younger brother bought a house up there a few years ago; he maintained his connections with the area even when living 'down on the plains' and is a member of the local cricket club, the CFS and is President of the School Council.

My mother has been heavily involved in the community for as long as I can remember. She started working as an SSO at the local school when I was in Year 5 - she and my younger brother started school on the same day. She retired 30+ years later, but has maintained ties with the school and even managed to hand her job over to her daughter-in-law. Still goes back to relieve every now and then and  I believe it is also mandatory that she hands out the prizes every Sports Day.

My family has had 4 generations attend this school - my grandparents both went there (you only married a local back in those days), my mother, my siblings and I, and my nephews. When I started in 1970, there were 2 classrooms - the Little Room was Years 1-3 and was taught by Mrs Chandler and the Big Room was Years 4-7 and was taught by Mr Chandler. That's the Little Room pictured. There was probably about 40-50 kids at the school. I have such fond memories of Primary School; there were 4 of us that went through from Yr 1 to Yr 7, but at one point we had 7 in our year level! Sure it was hard when there was only 1 other girl the same age, who was a total bitch AND was a distant relative but it also taught me the benefits of not holding a grudge, knowing when to stand up for yourself and when to let things slide and getting along with all age groups. I'm not sure if having your mother working at the school was an advantage or a disadvantage, but generally there was far more good than bad. The original school buildings were pulled down and a new school built in 1981/82.

Yesterday, the local school celebrated 100 years, and had organised a celebration involving an afternoon tea (2-5pm) followed by the traditional end of year concert (school parents only). Mum had done an enormous amount of work organising this and asked Miss R and I to come for the concert part. My nephew was graduating Year 7 and this would end our family's current association with the school (except for SIL still working there, of course). So we got there for the tail end of the public celebration which was a huge pity as I didn't get a chance to catch up with many people at all. While I had trouble recalling some names (faces were familiar), it seemed that everyone I spoke with knew exactly who I was! Seriously, have I not changed AT ALL since I left the school??? Apparently the family resemblance is strong.....

And this is where the touch of envy comes in. I always thought that MY children would go to that school. I'm a big believer in the benefits of small schools. I am happy with the school that we have chosen for Miss R; for an R-12 school, it is small and it does encourage a sense of community. But when I watched that concert last night, at how confident and articulate those kids were, at the ease that the 4 graduating Year 7's spoke about their school experiences, at how funny and theatrical my nephew was in the play celebrating 100 years of education at PPS, at the strong community spirit....I choked up and realised how much I miss being a part of that small community.

(See the tall man in the black? My grandfather. I didn't inherit his height.)

1 comment:

  1. What lovely memories you have though, even though you feel envious and wish the same for your child(ren). Hopefully they too will have memories of their own that will be just as wonderful - if different to yours - when they sit in rows of chairs as proud parents.....