My elementary school in Edmonton was something quite special. It was a large brick building that looked like the proper educational institutions you’d come across in a movie or picture book. Not the uninspiring slabs of concrete with confusing room numbers that I’ve seen around here. There was a certain charm to it, especially during winter when the red brick walls stood out so beautifully against the piles of snow.
It was a small school with only about one class per grade. We didn’t have ‘O Canada’. We didn’t have French class. Every morning they would announce students’ birthdays on the PA system, and if it was your birthday, you can go down to the main office where they’d know your name and give you a birthday card and a pencil.
Around 10am, the fifth graders were tasked with delivering snack trays to every class. It ranged from milk and cookies to pop-tarts to my favourite, buttered corn.
From grade 3 to grade 5, our physical education curricula included mandatory swimming lessons. We’d pay about $20 and for a couple weeks, two times a week, we’d be ushered to Grant MacEwan (then a college, now a university) down the street and learn how to swim in their pool.
There was a General Store next to the gym where kids could buy things like bookmarks and candy (mostly candy). We didn’t have a cafeteria; we ate lunch in various classrooms where chaperones (sometimes parents) would supervise us. I loved going up to the library, on the third floor. It was like going upstairs to your attic in your house to visit your favourite old belongings. There were comfortable reading areas, and a computer lab with educational games like The Amazon Trail and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (yea it’s a book, but did you know there was a game too?).
In grade two, I had Mrs. Anderson for my teacher. At the end of the year, she invited the entire class to her house for a party and BBQ. We also got treat bags, on top of birthday gifts throughout the school year. I’m pretty sure this gave me unreasonable expectations for future teacher-student relations.
Every Christmas, the entire school (grades K-6) gathers in the gym for an assembly. Mrs. Anderson played the piano and we’d sing Christmas carols together with lyrics on a large projector.
Across the street was this old abandoned mansion. It looked like it had deteriorated from its previous grandeur, so we all thought it was haunted. I think some ballsy sixth graders might have explored it on Halloween one year.
Although I was only in grade 2, the neighbourhood was safe enough that I’d walk to and from school everyday by myself.
I miss elementary.