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Sing a Song of Sixpence.

I’ve found myself thinking about school lately. Some of you may want to stop reading right here, but please don’t. The memories are all good — and very musical.

The elementary school I attended had eight grades and three classrooms, which equals a grand total of three teachers. In between academics and recess, we did have “music class” from time to time, but our mostly non-musical teachers struggled through these.

Occasionally, musical specialists visited, including  Keith Bissell, who introduced us to the Orff Method of music. I loved every moment, but the visits were few and far between. You can only imagine my delight when, in Grade Six, a bright musical light entered our young lives at Hillside Public School.

What follows is a piece I wrote about the wonderful Frances McShane for the Word Weaver, a publication of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region.

The words are so glowing that I’m sure you’ll accuse me of embellishment — that the choir was much better in my memory than in reality — but I have proof! Or had. My lovely mother recorded a Kiwanis Music Festival one year, and as an adult I was amazed at the fine sound of our tiny group compared to the others. How I wish cassette tapes lasted forever. Continue reading “Sing a Song of Sixpence.”

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“They” say you can’t go back, but they’re wrong.

During my elementary school years, I went to a three-room “little red schoolhouse”. It still sits at the north-east corner of the Toronto Zoo, where Meadowvale Road and Finch Avenue meet.

When I hear schoolyard horror stories these days, I’m reminded that my school years were relatively idyllic. They weren’t without social hierarchy, hurt feelings, or arguments, of course, but in hindsight I realize it all worked out well because ninety percent of us went to school together from Kindergarten through high school. We played, learned, and fought together, just like any other family. But the extras made our years at Hillside Public School truly unique. Continue reading ““They” say you can’t go back, but they’re wrong.”