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I Remember (Part 5)

December 10, 2012

For the past few weeks, I’ve been writing about my school days. This week, I’m going to finish things off with what I remember from my last two years of high school.

Grade 11 (Fall 1968 – Spring 1969)

Grade 11 School PhotoIt’s really hard for me to separate Grade 11 and Grade 12 in my mind – probably because there were so many other things going on during those two years.  We had the aftermath of  the ‘summer of love’ and the whole the hippie/’hair’ movement (in September of 1967, four teenagers ‘freaked out’ on LSD at a gathering at one of the town parks; this shocking event caused the leaders of our rather sanctimonious little town to invoke an 11:00 p.m. curfew and to place various restrictions on anyone under the age of 21 – especially those they referred to as ‘The Hair’), as well as the whole sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll scene that was influencing youth worldwide.  Anyway, by this point the high school was ‘experimenting’ again with curriculum and we were allowed to ‘ mix and match’ courses from various grades (we had to have a specified number of English, Science, History, Geography, Math, Language, Phys Ed, and Option courses, but they didn’t seem concerned [for the most part] about which grade levels they were from).  They’d also changed the classroom ‘dynamic’ again – we were organized first by letters of the Greek alphabet (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta) and then by numbers (1, 2, 3 … with about 30 students in each class); I was in Gamma 9 in Grade 11 (and Alpha 8 in Grade 12).

High School Gym SuitI’m missing my actual Grade 11 report card, but I do have one from Phys Ed for that year. It paints a rather dismal picture of my athletic abilities (which I remain convinced was the result of having to wear those ugly ‘bloomer’ style gym suits – with our names stitched across the back – to gym class and all ‘outdoor sporting activities’).

One of My CreationsIn addition to Phys Ed, I would have taken all the ‘regular’ courses (English, French, Math, Science, History) that year, and I FINALLY got to pick my own ‘option’ course.  I chose Home Ec. and I remember the teacher (Miss Snetsinger) complimenting me on my skill with a sewing machine (by that time, I was making most of my own clothes) and asking me to ‘model’ my creations every week (sadly, I never did take an Art or Music option).  There must have been some sort of increase in enrollment that year because I remember there was a shortage of lockers and I had to share one with Lynda Robertson. It was in the ‘new’ part of the building, across the hall from our ‘Home Room’, and just down the hall from the Biology lab, where I remember our teacher – Mr. Everson – snoozing behind a newspaper during class (there was some talk about whether or not his lunch was primarily liquid) while we dissected earthworms, frogs, and fish.

OTHS 'Red Devils' Bathtub (1967 Race)Of all the ‘extracurricular’ activities that year, I specifically remember the Bathtub Race (the four high schools in town would race modified ‘claw foot’ bathtubs down the main street; White Oaks SS won that year), and the Sadie Hawkins (girls ask boys) dance – because I attended both with my first ‘steady’ boyfriend, Paul J.  Despite having an active social life (outside of school), I’m pretty sure I maintained my ‘above-average’ marks (or my mother would have grounded me … and THAT I would have remembered).

See You In SeptemberGrade 11 was the year we stopped reciting ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ in school; instead we observed ‘One Minute of Quiet Reflection’ (which usually involved eye rolling, some cautious giggling, and surreptitious glances around the room to see who was flirting with whom).  And, finally, I remember listening to ‘See You In September’ (by The Happenings) blasting out over the school’s PA system as we cleared out our lockers on the very last day of school.

Grade 12 (Fall 1969 – Spring 1970)

Grade 12 School PhotoIn Grade 12 I took a LOT of English courses – Advanced (12th year) English, a 12th year course called The Feature Film, and 11th year Journalism – the course that made me want to pursue Journalism as a career (I also worked on the ‘radical’ school newspaper [‘Lumpen’] during Grade 12, but it wasn’t terribly successful [only one issue ever got published], so my memory there is pretty sketchy!)  My guidance counselor (Miss Harris) managed to convince my parents that Journalism wasn’t an appropriate profession for a ‘young girl’, and advised that I take up one of the more ‘traditional’ female-oriented vocations of the era: teacher, secretary, nurse, hairdresser.  I decided (with some pressure) to forego Grade 13 for secretarial school (both my sisters were working in offices at the time and my parents thought I should follow in their footsteps); five years later I was working at the local Community College, where I gradually became drawn into the role of ‘teacher’ (a career I followed for 30+ years).  And while I never worked as a journalist, writing has always been my ‘post retirement’ goal.

Study CarrelI remember spending a great deal of time in the new library during Grade 12 – opened in the fall (at the front of the school, above the new cafeteria) it had lots of glass windows and dozens of study carrels – I LOVED doing my homework in the privacy of a study carrel.

Christmas On The Moon FloatI remember attending the Sadie Hawkins dance that year with Doug M. (a friend, not a boyfriend), going to the Winter Carnival and a couple of ‘pep rallies’ with various groups of friends, and attending folk festivals, talent shows, and various other school dances (including one featuring ‘Lighthouse’ – they were a REALLY BIG DEAL back in 1969/70).  And I remember decorating and riding on the school’s float in the Santa Claus parade (the theme was ‘Christmas on the Moon’ – that’s me, dressed in red tights and a green garbage bag – sitting on the left side at the rear of the float).

The biggest disappointment of Grade 12 was my mark in Urban Geography (66%). This was the lowest mark I had ever received in any course during high school and it was the result of having had a substitute teacher take over the course mid-way through the year (after our originally teacher was diagnosed with cancer). The ‘new guy’ decided he didn’t want to mark the projects we’d been diligently working on all year and instead gave ‘pop quizzes’ and ‘unannounced tests’ during class (sometimes even testing us on material that he hadn’t covered).  The end result was that almost everyone in the class failed (I was originally given a final grade of 50%; the highest mark in the class was a 55%).  The entire class protested to the principal, our projects were eventually graded (although clearly not to our complete satisfaction), and our marks were adjusted.  That 66% prevented me from graduating with honours (by a lousy .3%).

Grade 12 Grad Night

Still, I did graduate and I attended the prom with Ron B. (another friend, not boyfriend); the band hired to play was another ‘hot’ band of the day: Edward Bear.  In June of 1970, I left OTHS for the very last time and I remembering thinking “Nothing will ever be the same again” – and I was right.  I had another year of school ahead of me (secretarial college) but the world was in transition, and so was I.

I just didn’t know how much change I’d go through before I (eventually) reached … the other side of 55.

Grade 12 School Paper - Lumpen

The closest I came to being a journalist – the staff of Lumpen (I’m on the left, back row).

  1. December 30, 2012 12:07 pm

    Seeing this post, I realized you and I are the same age. I thought your name, the other side of 55, would make you a bit younger. In turning 60 this year, I did a similar post, taking the times of kindergarten, high school graduation, college graduation, my own child’s leap through time, bringing me to this point. Great time in life for reflection before we move on. As I wrote, “someone is whispering in my ear, ‘enjoy these years, for some day you will be 80.'”

    • December 30, 2012 12:12 pm

      The idea for the blog title ‘came’ to me the year I turned 55 (it just took me a couple of years to actually get to writing about it). Yes, these are the years we should be enjoying (and remembering) because they WILL be gone before we know it (just like all the others that have passed). Glad you enjoyed my reminiscences!


  2. December 11, 2012 12:02 pm

    I enjoyed reading about your school days. I hope you continue on with the next chapter of your life.

  3. December 10, 2012 8:07 pm

    Lots of fun to reminisce with you…thanks for sharing your thoughts and the great pics. Love your outfits!

    • December 11, 2012 10:15 am

      Sometimes I wish I still made my own clothes but the price of patterns and fabric make it unrealistic. Glad you enjoyed my ‘blast from the past’.


  4. Colleen permalink
    December 10, 2012 3:01 pm

    Margo, I can’t get over how much you still look like your teenage self!


  1. I Remember (Part 4) | The Other Side of 55

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