I am a student from the early days of Palliser Heights school in Moose Jaw. From 1960 – 1965 I attended Grades 1 – 6. I attended school the day JFK was shot. I was there when the soccer field was shoots of grass and gravel. I remember the hallways being polished and the structure being only one story.

My own story was as a student coming to Moose Jaw as a raw grade oner! My memory was of entering the classroom after the school year had begun. I was scared and was welcomed in. By Grade six I was comfortably situated in a school community that I enjoyed. And then we moved.

In the early grades, the English readers which students studied carried stories by now famous authors. One story struck me. “Circumstances Alter Carla.” Carla had transferred schools and had learned to live into the circumstances instead of fighting the changes. She was mentored by older people and cared for by her peers. This scenario, portrayed in a classroom assignment, became very real to me in coming years.

When students say they learn nothing new each day, that’s how I felt in my elementary schooling. Perhaps normal daily life in the classroom was the teaching environment. Nothing new but everything newly experienced and taken in. Mrs. Winslow (or so I remember the name) was my grade three teacher. In Grade three life was about stories of travels. Sitting at the front of the class, Mrs. Winslow would talk of climbing mountains and seeing the beauty of nature. A world that needed to be explored.

By Grade five I was beginning to enjoy writing. My competitive nature came out when journals were required of each student. The journals required cursive writing, but also gathering in of our observations. My friend, Donald Dankewich, was neat and organized. His journal was outstanding and he received the highest honours – an honour I did not begrudge him, but that also spurred me on to excel and not just coast along.

In Grade Six I was abandoned to “The Other Grade Six Class” when I was unable to attend a scheduled day-time field trip. In the class, the teacher handed out pictures. Mine was of a white-tailed deer. The assignment? Observe the scene and write a paragraph about what you saw. Each of my sentences began with “The white tailed deer . . .” The foreign class laughed at me and I felt shame. I determined to either not write again, or only write in such a way that I expressed myself well and the reader became immersed in what I was saying. In strange settings, some of our best incentives come clothed as failures.

In August of 2017, I returned to Palliser Heights school, with my grandson in tow. He was entering Grade Six and comparing his school with the school his grandfather grew up in. Thanks to the principal, Jonathan McLean, for the tour of the facility, and for those teachers and staff who were present to greet us. I truly believe the students are in for a treat as they are guided by your patience, presence and passion for them this year.