Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Closing the School

The elementary school I attended up to Grade Four will end its life as a school at the end of this month. I don't know what the plan is for building in Creemore that was first a high school, and later an elementary school, and was the first school I attended. There will still be an education offered to young people in Creemore, it's just that the "annex" is closing, and all classes are being consolidated into a newer building nearby. With its high ceilings and large windows, the old school would make an excellent set of condos. I was asked by the editor of the Creemore Echo to put together some of my memories of NCCS, and here's what I submitted.


There may have been a hierarchy at play when I was a student at the 'tall school' in Creemore. Kindergarten was in the basement, Grade Four on the top floor. Yellow shag carpeting dotted with red was no doubt designed to cover spilled paint, dirt and the occasional barf that rained down on it.

Two of the little boys in my Kindergarten were so shy, they would not come into the class. They stayed in the hall, terrified. For one of them, it may have been Christmas before he screwed up the courage to join the Birthday Circle. Miss Bambrick was very patient, and it may have been the lure of a chocolate treat to finally bring him in.

The first year I was in the split Grade One/Two class taught by Mrs. Davidson, I was assured at home that I was so smart, I was being paired up with the 'slow' kids from Grade Two. However, when I was on the Grade Two side of the split a year later, the story changed: I was so bright, I was being recruited to help those poor dummies in Grade One. When I was in a split class again in Grade Four, I noticed there was no one in my class whose surname started with B, F, or H. We were the Ms to Zs, and there were no dummies.

I got into trouble in Grade Two when Lisa Prime busted out a swear word I had taught her in the confines of our snow fort during lunch hour. The teacher didn't believe golden-haired little me had provided that piece of Lisa's education until I confirmed it and solemnly promised never to bring 'barn words' to school again. Two years later, in the middle of a geography lesson, I was engrossed in a Harlequin Romance stolen from under my mother's sewing table when I heard my name and looked up just in time to see a huge cloud of white chalk dust rising around Mrs. Marion Hawkins. I had been so immersed in my purloined love story, I didn't hear her call on me. She had finally lost her temper and slammed her hand onto the chalkboard in frustration.

I ran into Mrs. Davidson the other day, and no matter how many years have passed since I was in her classroom, I can't call her Audrey. I just can't. There was no question of she or Mrs. Hawkins, Mrs. Arnold, Mr. Bell or Mrs. McArthur being referred to by anything other than their honorific and heaven forbid any of those venerable ladies showed up to school in slacks!

I can't remember if we obeyed the stone-carved 'boys' and 'girls' entrances, although I do remember thinking it was pretty stupid to divide us, even while I practiced writing out my married name if I were to partner up with the only boy in my class taller than I. During cold winter recesses, we girls huddled around the front door, chanting, "Mis-ter-Bell, ring-the-bell!" to let us back into the warmth of the building. Once inside, there could be no sneaking around - the din from those squeaky old wooden stairs was so loud it would overwhelm even the laughing, screaming kids as they hustled up or down on their way to learn.

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