School Stories

From Kindergarten to UBC.

Near Death Experience

During my Lunch Hour at Cariboo Hill Junior Secondary High School, I wandered into the Gymnasium and noticed students doing some work. A neighbour kid was just about to climb the tallest step ladder I had ever seen, so I went to hold the ladder steady for him. The hammer in his hand and his somewhat clumsy nature did not ring the alarm bells in my head that they should have.

As he reached the top of the ladder, I suddenly heard a loud swish followed by a loud bang as the hammer hit the floor. The swish was as loud as it was because the hammer passed within two inches of my ear.

From that height, at that speed, I am lucky to be alive today. I would not be around to say it, but “I never knew what hit me.”

King or Dirty Rascal?

I’m the King of the Castle and you’re the Dirty Rascal.

As Grade 6 drew to a close, our last year at Second Street Elementary School in East Burnaby, those of us living close enough to Armstrong Elementary School were given a intriguing opportunity: go to Armstrong for their first year of Grade 7. Everyone else was going to Cariboo Hill Junior Secondary School for their final year of Grade 7.

The choice between being King or Dirty Rascal was a No Brainer for a kid who spent most of his school years being bullied in one way or another. I chose Armstrong and have never regretted that choice, despite the fact that I was only Second Street student there. I still got bullied but nothing like I would have at Cariboo.

Flunked Out of Kindergarten

I may be the only kid alive who flunked out of Kindergarten. Twice!

In Burnaby, in the late 1950s, Kindergarten was available for 4 and 5 year old children, but at a cost. As a result, less than 5% of the 120 who began Grade 1 at Second Street Elementary School had attended Kindergarten.

My parents enrolled me in Kindergarten in September of both 1956 and 1957. I do remember attending and even who the children were who started Grade 1 at Second Street when I did. But I’m a lot less clear on exactly why I stopped going. For whatever reason, I never made it to October, in either year. Given how much trouble I had with Grade 1, I strongly suspect that I just was not mature enough to handle being with a bunch of kids my own age for several hours every day.

Exempt from Finals

Although High School, from Grade 8 to 12, I never wrote a Final Exam, not even a Provincial Exam, which also meant I got off school a few weeks early in June. It only required a C+ average to be Exempt from Finals.

Unfortunately, it left me totally unprepared for three hour exams at UBC.