Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gisborne Girls' High School and me.

As I was driving to school today I realised a couple of things. Firstly that today is my last day of teaching classes at Wainuiomata High School (possibly for a while, possibly forever) and it has also been ten years since I left Gisborne Girls' High School. There seemed to be a lot of similarities, and some considerable differences between these two events. I also started pondering about what had happened in the intervening time. So, in the next wee while I thought I'd cover all three. This is not meant to copy John-Paul or Fflur's recent posts, although I like them very much.

All of my photos are in storage so this is the closest I can get to helping you imagine me as a teenager. I finished seventh form in 1999, and it could not have been soon enough. I remember girls at our final prize-giving crying because it was their last moment of school. Meanwhile, I was very unsentimental, instead feeling both relief and new found freedom. I'd felt school had started to take on a confining, choking feeling some six months earlier. Now I just had to get out of Gisborne.

A year or two beforehand I had decided (encouraged by my father) that I would stay on in Gisborne after leaving school and start my accountancy career at a local firm as they paid you to work and do a couple of university papers at the same time. By July of 1999 I had firmly decided 'no way' and applied to Otago University, the furthest I could get away without leaving the country (there were many events which has caused this firm decision, but I won't go into them here). So, I just had to survive the summer and then I could leave.

1999 was a year of uncertainties, but also possibilities. I remember feeling that my future was uncertain, but bright. I had dreams of doing wonderful things (although I couldn't articulate what things they might be). On the other hand there was y2k and the possibility that we might not be around for much longer. Oh, yes, and the drinking age was just about to come down to 18. All in all, I was glad time was moving on.

I don't have many fond memories of high school. It was just something that happened. Really, I don't think I was suited to a girls' school. My last few months at primary school had been spent playing cricket with two boys in my class, researching weta, doing experiments on plants and reading adventure and war stories. Suddenly, at high school I found myself sitting down all the time with girls and listening to conversations about TV shows whilst swapping Dolly and Girlfriend magazines.

Throughout my time there I had tried to become as little involved as possible. I never entered an event at Athletics Day, avoided doing work in Science as much as possible, rarely did homework and almost never studied. My achievements amounted to an Accounting prize, a contribution to Swimmming badge and winning the forth form speech competition (probably the only thing I am proud of- ironically my speech was on the theory that teachers were in actual fact aliens).

So at the end in 1999 I just said a brief goodbye to the few friends I had (most of whom I never saw again, but in truth I wasn't a very likable person at high school anyway), thanked one teacher, opened my time capsule (I had changed quite a bit, although I was still struggling to be cool- and had failed to get a boyfriend), and left vowing never to attend a reunion or go back.

I did go back, in 2006, for a placement while at teachers' college. And I sometimes wonder if my dislike of high school had anything to do with me becoming a high school teacher.


  1. Yes, but tell us about your glasses. Were they plastic?

  2. They were actually metal and way uncool and out of date (but they were brown). Luckily I had managed to convince my parents that I needed contact lenses.


  3. I often wonder what made me become a teacher, I know I had thoughts and plans to be much better than my miserable teachers - I hope I have had some success. I really like high school and often wished I could go back, it was the one place i was popular - maybe that was why I became a teacher - so I could go back...

  4. I think you have had some success. You care, and that's a pretty big advantage.

    Ahh Fflur, I am really glad we are friends now, but I suspect we may never have been if we'd gone to school together!