Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Unlocking Memories

I knew that revisiting my old elementary school would bring back memories but I never expected that, at every turn, in every room, I would see my younger self, hear the voices of classmates and teachers, remember the sound of my old principal, softly calling for attention.

"Shh... shh... listening. Listening... "

I found Mr. Gordon, in a framed black-and-white photograph, posing with the vice principal, Mr. Gouge, and a crowd of young students with their Safety Patrol sashes. The students were from my grade, many from my class. I recognized Pam and Joanne, who I had known since kindergarten, standing near the front of the crowd. I also remembered other faces but couldn't put names to them.

Everything seemed smaller, as though time had shrunk the gymnasium. My kindergarten classroom, whose sloped ceiling seemed infinitely out of reach, had sunk with age. Tables and chairs were doll-sized, the hallways shortened.

Not everything was the same: the wooden climbing apparatus, which would swing out to make an indoor jungle gym in the auditorium, was gone. The partition that separated two classrooms, but had been opened when I shared a split class in grade 3 and 4, was gone. The double room had become one single, large space, now a third kindergarten classroom.

And the library—one of the places in the whole school where I spent most of my time, where the librarian had encouraged me to read—had been divided from one large space to two smaller ones, one that held computers: devices that didn't exist in my time. The reading corner now housed a workstation.

Now, all the bookshelves are empty, all the books either already gone or packed into cardboard boxes and labelled, ready to find a new home.

Over the next couple of days, I'll try to share memories from my childhood school days. With these memories, I'll share photos of the school, now closed for the summer, now closed for the last time. Century Public School only lasted half a century but for me, my memories will last a lifetime.

I would like to thank Dave Petrie, Century Public School's current and final principal, for kindly allowing me to wander the halls one last time and capture images, which awoke so many memories.

Tomorrow, I'll show you the auditorium, which doubled as the gymnasium, and where I saw history made.

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