Yup, that's me on my first day of school in September 1953. The white truck behind me is a 1952 Chev, the only brand new vehicle my Dad ever bought. My blazer was red as was the blouse underneath. I remember it yet. My hair is naturally straight but Mum loved curls. You can see the result.
I was excited. Going to school at last. The teacher would show me how to read and the neighbourhood kids would all be there. My school? Giles (named for Giles James, a local settler). It was one of the last one room schools to run in the district and students studied in grades one-nine. In those days there was no kindergarten.
My lifelong enthusiasm for education must be in the DNA. My Grandfather, John Trefiak, was one of the early school trustees. My father's cousin Annie Trefiak taught at the school both when she was single, Miss Trefiak and after she was married, Mrs. Churchman. The school I attended wasn't the original. It was in the same yard and the old school was the community hall.
What about my classes?? They were just as you would imagine, reading, writing and arithmetic. Art involved bringing a favourite ornament, covering it in latex to make a mold and filling it with plaster of Paris. When it was set, the treasure was yours to paint. I don't remember a regular phys. ed. class. We all played outside and ran over a huge yard. We built forts and made our own games. Scrub (a softball game) was big. I remember having a "witch chin" caused when I was pushed down an icy slope in the ditch. I had just lost my place as "king of the hill."
There was a barn for the horses that the older kids rode to school. We played ante-i-over which involved teams on either side and a softball. You tossed the ball over the roof and the other team tried to catch it. If they did, the whole team ran around to "capture" members of the opposition which had to run to the other side before they were tagged. No adult supervision and no arguments. No cheating, either.
There were no, gasp, computers, no photocopiers, and the toilet was an outhouse. The teacher had lessons for us all and there wasn't a lot of defiance. One soft-hearted teacher had to strap a boy (yes, corporal punishment) and it was an example to us all. He had to stand at the front and hold his hands out and Miss Sather whacked them with a belt. He cried and so did she. The rest of us sat in shock and we were all very good for a while.
With no technology, no group work, no projects and very few resources, I got a fine grounding from that little one room country school. When I enrolled in Wainwright at the end of grade 7, I was at par with my peers. I like school so much, I became a teacher. Even without all the bells and whistles, that are deemed necessities to engage students today, I was engaged. Not everything was fun but neither is everything in real life.
The picture is the first school.
I've been married a long time and often write about everyday events.