Saturday, January 3, 2015

Memories of high school

First remember that your past is just a story that is woven by what others tell you and by what you remember, your past does not excuse or justify your present behavior. The memories I have for the most part, prior to age six were past onto me by stories told by my mother, father uncles and aunts, so they are part of me but not remembered by me. 

I remember playing with  my brothers in a small town in the Kootney Valley of BC of, not liking school and not attending and going to play with my friends who were younger and not attending school. This of course led to my having to restart school when we moved to Vancouver Island. Some would say I failed grade one, I would say I was not ready for school and was allowed to march to the tune of my own drums. 

From age six to ten we lived in an Auto Court in the country, (a motel with long term rentals) on a river. I loved the flooding of the river which happened at least once a year. I started working by delivering papers in grade three and I remember long bike rides down narrow rural roads. I remember my dad coming to get me when I became afraid of the herds of horses running free and I never knew until I was about 36 why I had a fear of horses. I did learn that fear can literally stop you in your tracks and knowledge about why you are afraid can set you free.

I liked school and the friends I made but when I was going into grade four we moved to a smaller more closed rural society on the other side of town. I moved from a school of about 200 to a two room school of about 40. 

If you have ever moved into a closed knit community you understand that everyone has a place within the hierarchy, and the new folks are at the bottom of that hierarchy. I did not like that position but the only way up the ladder in this community was to prove how tough you are. So I took a year to move up the ladder to a place where I thought I was comfortable. The only way to move up was to show you were physically stronger than others and to win over friends who were tougher than you so I did both. Another lesson I learned was making friends was easier and more fun than fighting.

The next two years were comfortable as I did not have to prove myself, I became a leader in a small pond, managed my first band when I was in grade six. We played one show at the school and then dissolved as we had other interests.

In grade six we wrote an IQ test that determined which class we would end up in when we went to Junior High. At the first assembly we waited while our names were called and we went off with our home room teacher. I was in the second class called out. The rest of my friends from my school were in the last class.  I found out later we were called out in order of descending scores on the IQ test, so the highest scores were called first and the lowest scores called last.

So in grade seven I was in a big school with no friends in my class and I wanted to fit in, but it was hard as the rules had changed. The ability to move up the hierarchy was determined not by how tough you were but by how smart and by how popular you were. Every new situation has rules that need to be learned or live can be tougher than it needs to be.

In the school I went to the tough kids from town, were afraid of the kids from just North of where I lived ,and the tough kids from there were only afraid of the kids from where I was from. My friends were all in the classes "designed for slower students", while I was in a "smart class" and the students in this smart class were, I suspect, not sure about me. 

I was shy with girls and I did not talk well with the guys. So I went into Drama, and hung out with the kids who tended to get into trouble, so I started getting into some trouble with the authorities at school. 

Looking back now I realize that I was not nice to some of my smarter classmates. In our Drama class, those of us who were not actors amused ourselves by having staple gun fights in the cafeteria. The biggest fun we had was finding a crawl space under the classes and then crawling through the crawl space and making noises like small animals. 

When I was in grade nine my parents had a Guy Fawkes celebration and I and two friends went off on our bikes to get some fireworks we had made for next Halloween. As we were returning home we were ambushed by some guys from another community, we escaped but in the race to leave I went over the handle bars of my bike and broke every finger in my hands. Spent the night in the hospital. The next week some of the boys in my French class (only those sitting in a certain area) were called down to the Principals office and because of our behavior were all given the strap (we had covered the ceiling of the classroom with spitballs). I was spared because of my broken hands.

In grade 10 our History teacher cried when he told us that the President of the United States had been killed. We all got the day off school. 

I remember High School as not much fun, but I never studied and my grades reflected that (I got mostly B's and C+'s) but I was involved.  I won my school letter in athletics for my involvement in school sports. I was on the yearbook, school newspaper, a class rep for students council.  I managed my second band we played a total of three shows and then went our own ways. 

I played Football and was on a team that won the Canadian Championship. I played softball on a team that won the BC Championships. I was a founding member of the Junior Achievement club/business and we won awards and I became one of the spokespeople for the organization. Looking back I still believe that I did not fit into any group while I was at school. I had friends in the community who were not accepted by my friends at school and I could not reconcile the two extremes.

I loved rock and roll, and went to all the dances in town, but since I could not dance, I stayed on the sidelines or at the front. I remember seeing Roy Orbison, Paul Revere and the Raiders among other acts. I also saw the Beatles when they came to Vancouver, by taking advantage of a lapse in security and the fact I was a good runner. I was not really that impressed by them.  

When I went back to my first high school reunion I met people who loved high school and I met people who thanked me for my contributions and help when they were at school. They remembered me and the times differently then I did.  I learned that you should never underestimate the contribution you make to others.

At the end of high school my friends were all going to the University of British Columbia, as they were expected to do but I thought that the new university Simon Fraser would be an interesting place to go. So in September 1965 I joined the other 1500 Charter students at SFU. 

Simon Fraser was in its first year a great place for student initiative, I joined a group that started the first newspaper."The Tartan" which lead to setting up a student government. I also joined with another group that set up a number of school dances. Since their was no student government the profits from the dances went to us. We spend them on a Grand Presidents Ball in January so the money was not wasted. I ran for and was elected to the first students council and enjoyed a one semester term. The next year I ran the elections and for the next four years was involved in a minor role in student government. 

I learned from my high school and university experiences that I could do what I wanted,within reason, have fun and enjoy life and that the only things that could hold me back were self imposed.  University was fun, life is fun and just too short. 

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