My Blog List

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

100 Years of St. Michael's

The three Campbell sisters got dolled up and went back to their old school for its Centenary celebrations. The school is St Michael's Catholic Grammar School in North Finchley in north London. The Sisters of the Poor Child Jesus started teaching children on the same site, one hundred years ago. There is a group called St. Michael's Old Girls (SMOG) and many of them were there searching for "old" school friends and even "older" teachers.
Over a thousand people gathered in a giant marquee, set up across the three tennis courts for a mass with lots of music and speeches, finishing with a rousing rendition of the school song.
The women in the row in front heard me singing and turned around and exclaimed "Gillian!". Dear Frances and Ilona who I have not seen for 42 years. Teachers I met later on also declared that they could recognise me by my voice.

I started at the junior school, which is now closed, in 1958, in time for the Golden Jubilee. Fifty years later I was able to return for the 100th anniversary. The building on the right of this entry archway houses that early junior school, chapel, gymnasium, classrooms and..........
......the room behind the brown door in this picture. I spent a day in solitary confinement in the small office behind that door for having the temerity to change the maths homework on the blackboard. At the end of the previous day my best friend Clare and I, thinking that everyone had already gone home, changed the page and exercise numbers by adding a few noughts. We were hugely entertained by our daring but the next day a few of our classmates claimed that they had been unable to find the set work. When the culprit was asked to own up I did not hesitate because I expected a reprimand. Instead I was ensconced in the office with a new box of pencils and a ream of lined paper. I was told to write lines. "I must not change the homework on the blackboard". I was left to do so all day with a short break for lunch with the kindergartens.

I spent 37 of the last 47 years, writing on MY blackboard everyday. I loved it and always allowed students to come up to the board to add or change things, but, only while I was watching them. I fully understood then the territorial claim a teacher has on their blackboard.

After the official celebrations we toured the school watching performances and sipping tea and eating cakes and bumping into other old girls. I'm thrilled that we went and I was delighted to re-establish contacts with some of the SMOG of 1966. I'm hoping through the ones I made that day to find and communicate with even more.

Hello to all those I met that day. It is wonderful for me to be able to re-establish those links and feel that I have returned to the England I left behind nearly 38 years ago when I took off for Africa and later Australia. I look forward to seeing many of you again soon

Cheers Gillian

p.s. There is something quite special about the last photo which I shall blog about soon.


Anonymous said...

Wow, you used to have such innocent jokes and fun times at your school. What a lovely blog to read. xx

sue said...

I loved reading about your reunion. It seems your sister has changed her hair short and yours longer. I see that your younger sister looks like both of you too. I never knew that you went to Africa. You will have to blog about it one day.

carol said...

Beautiful shirt Gillian - and you wear it well!!

My old grammar school is now a huge comprehensive in a new square building. :-(