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I Remember (Part 4)

December 4, 2012


Ah, high school! It’s hard to remember high school without evoking memories of all the social and ‘extra curricular’ activities and friendships formed and kept (or not) outside the classroom.  The high school years were when many of us ‘’found’ ourselves – developed our unique personalities, decided who we were and where we wanted our lives to go, experienced love and loss for the first time(s).  The late 60s – when I was in high school – was a time of transformation, of turmoil (even here in Canada), of learning and yearning for something we (as a collective ‘youth’) couldn’t quite put our finger on.  Lots of things happened during those turbulent years and I’m glad I was a part of it.

Here’s what I remember about high school (starting this week with Grades 9 and 10; I’ll finish up Grades 11 and 12 next week).

Grade 9 (Fall 1966 to Spring 1967)

Oakville Trafalgar HS 1966High school was a big change for all of us. It was the first time we’d had to ‘rotate’ from class to class for different subjects with different teachers. There were also a whole lot of new people to get to know (the high school I attended – Oakville Trafalgar – ‘absorbed’ students from at least four east end schools; in the fall of 1966 there were eight Grade 9 classes of 35 to 40 students each; only about 75 of those 300+ students were from the school I’d attended, and only six of those were in my class).

Grade 9 School PhotoI was in 9C – the ‘brainer’ class.  Sometime during the previous academic year someone in the school board (or the high school administration) had decided to ‘experiment’ with putting all the Grade 8 honours grads into one class and ‘custom designing’ our curriculum. We had to take the same ‘mandatory core’ courses (English, French, History, Geography, Math, Phys Ed, and Science) as everyone else, but we didn’t get to pick an ‘option’ and we didn’t get a ‘spare’ – instead we had a double English and Typing (why – when there was nothing remotely resembling a ‘personal computer’ in 1966 – Typing was the ‘option’ chosen for us is beyond me, but there you have it. Perhaps ‘someone’ was a psychic and knew how important ‘keyboarding’ would be to our collective futures!)

Typing Class w/Miss DewaldI remember Typing class the most because I enjoyed it the least. We learned to type on manual typewriters with no letters or numbers on the keys. There was a giant poster of the keyboard on the front blackboard; we would place our fingers on the ‘home row’ and memorize the keyboard layout by practicing typing combinations like frf juj ad nausem. Honestly, I HATED typing class (the fact that my mother insisted I take the second level in Grade 10 – because both my sisters had taken ‘commercial’ courses and one was already working as a secretary and the other was destined to do the same and my mother believed I was going to end up working in an office, too – irked me to no end).  Much to my chagrin (and I don’t think I’ve ever admitted this out loud before) I actually became a very good typist, eventually learned to ENJOY typing, and currently keyboard (accurately) at about 120 words per minute (I hit a top speed of 65 wpm on a manual typewriter in 1971 and 103 on an IBM Selectric in 1974). Hmmm … maybe it was fate that had me taking typing for two years in high school after all!

Library Club 1966The only other thing I really remember clearly about Grade 9 was joining the Library Club (I was a member during Grade 10 as well). I loved working in the library – shelving books and cataloguing new volumes, and I seriously considered pursuing a career as a Librarian (I didn’t, but many years later, I taught various technology-related courses in the Library Technician Program at the local Community College, and I felt like I’d come full circle).

Grade 9 was the last year we had hand-written report cards; they listed ‘Pupil’s Mark’ beside ‘Grade High Mark’ (many of them 98, 99, or 100 – very discouraging for those of us who were ‘average’ students) and ‘Grade Median Mark’.  I was above the median in everything except Science (at least they didn’t grade the neatness of your writing in high school!)  Comments were brief: “Good work; watch science” in the fall and “Faithful work, but science still seems weak” in spring.  All in all, grade 9 was pretty good.

Grade 10 (Fall 1967 to Spring 1968)

Gr. 10 Field Trip to TorontoI remember very little about my classes in Grade10 (except that I had to take stupid Typing again, instead of Art or Music [I desperately wanted to learn how to play the drums] or Home Ec).  I remember being one of only a handful of students who chose ‘Advanced’ level English, and one of only four who selected Advanced Math. Because there were only four of us (myself, Mary Ford, Larry Wilson, John Chong), we were placed at the back of the (regular Math) class and allowed to work on our own (I suppose this was an early form of ‘self directed learning’); we were assigned extra homework and chapters to complete (at, I suppose, an ‘advanced’ level).  I find it a bit ‘odd’ that Math was my strongest subject in school, yet I don’t use or remember much about it (other than ‘the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides’ – handy, I suppose, if you work with triangles a lot – which I don’t).  I also remember all the girls (myself included) having a crush on the new, young math teacher, Mr. Pravica, and that we took a field trip (for English class) to Toronto (on the brand new GO Train) to visit our provincial capital’s City Hall.

MiniSkirt And Fishnet StockingsI remember my locker was in an alcove in the ‘old’ part of the school that year, and that some of my classes were in the ‘old’ section while the rest were in the ‘new’ section (added in 1962). The really ‘cool’ guys (the ones sporting longer-than-collar-length hair who played in bands or performed at the school ‘Hootenanny’) sat on the window ledges of the ‘flying bridge’ that ran between the old and new sections of the school, where they attracted the attention of gaggles of giggling girls who were experimenting with new wardrobe ‘must haves’ like mini-skirts, go-go boots, and fishnet stockings – man, we were ‘dressed to impress’.

I was above average in all my Grade 10 subjects (even Science). (NOTE: the ‘Average Median Grade’ for Typing was only 40.4% – I guess I wasn’t the only one who didn’t like that class). Unfortunately, my picture does not appear in the school yearbook (The Pleiad) for 67-68; the school was divided into eight ‘Houses’ that year (50+ students from mixed grades per House – they tried all sorts of different configurations for grouping students back in the 60s) and House 6 (the one I was in) was (mistakenly, I think) left out of the yearbook entirely (and for some strange reason, I can’t find a single copy of my school photo for that year, either – although I do remember that I was wearing a white headband in an attempt to ‘push’ my bangs down over my forehead because my mother had decided to give me a ‘trim’ the night before the school photos were taken and she’d cut them too short).

Grade 10 was a kind of ‘transition’ year for me – I began hanging out with a completely new group of ‘friends’, and I (unfortunately) left behind a number of formerly close relationships with people I probably should have kept in touch with.  Change was the one constant in our lives during those years – and I can guarantee you that not one of us ever thought we’d reach … the other side of 55.

Inside Cover Grade 10 Yearbook (1967-68)

Inside Cover of My Grade 10 Yearbook (1967-68): Groovy, Baby!

Read the Final Installment in This Series: I Remember (Part 5)

  1. Margie C permalink
    July 30, 2014 1:07 pm

    Frf juj ded kik!!
    Well, Margo (and I knew there was no “t”, just like I knew my name had a “hard g” despite the teacher who said it should be “soft” before an”ie”).
    Whatever made me google “Oths 9c 1966” on a lazy summer day I do not know – but what memories it led to as I read yours re : Brantwood (the limbo row in Mrs Sandford’s class between Grade 3&4), New Central (including Mr. Forrester) and the infamous 9C!! I have the same grade 3/4 pic (with names), the G8 grad pic and, in fact a little one of you in Grade 10 (white hairband in place). And there I am in the birthday party pictures! Thank you so much for your memories (pretty consistent but slightly different from mine-I swear there was an advanced Grade 10 math class). We had a great childhood friendship which is nice to appreciate at 60!

    • July 30, 2014 1:58 pm

      OMG … how wonderful to hear from you! I’d love to get the names of everyone in that photo of Mrs. Sandford’s grade 3/4 class (I can only ID a dozen or so) and a copy of my grade 10 pic (since I don’t have it). I have a lot of fond memories of our early years and our friendship! So glad you commented!

  2. Cathy permalink
    December 4, 2012 3:49 pm

    Your blog sure brings back a lot of memories for me. Some things that you experienced I did too, although much for me was different. You certainly have a better memory than me!

    • December 4, 2012 5:46 pm

      The more I think about it (and look back at things like my old yearbooks), the more I remember (name and faces in particular). It’s been a fun journey!



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