Chemainus Secondary School today.
It's nice to know that, even though they have fewer students than they had in my day, they now have Theater. Go, Chemainus!
I have many memories of high school, most of them bad.
I was small, a year younger than my classmates, obviously "foreign," and subject to bullying for which there was even less recourse than there is today. I was sheltered and naive. Academically, I did fairly well, and I read a lot. I was a bookworm and teacher's pet. I was a Dumbell, a Doorbell, a Snorebell, a Toesmell--because my surname was "Dobell." My first name was "Veronica," so the more "sophisticated" of my schoolmates thought my initials were hilarious.
I took a Physics class, which, while open to girls, was considered to be a "Boys Only" club. I paid for that. Oh, did I pay! In the beginning, there were several girls, but, one by one, they dropped out. I was too stubborn for that, so I endured the blatant sexual harassment for over a year, until the teacher figured out what was going on and put a stop to it. I never did tell anyone.
Perhaps if I had stayed nearby, and got to know these people as adults, I would not have retained such bitter memories all these years, but the only way I survived those years was to dream of leaving. Leaving, and going to a place where nobody knew me, where I could be myself (whoever that was), and where there just might be people who thought like I did.
I had friends; good friends. We had a lot of fun outside of school, and did the best we could within the walls.
There was the Art Room, where a fairly liberal teacher would let a small group of us congregate during lunch hour. I still never knew when one of the "others" would stick his head in the door and yell, "Hey, V. D!"--and tear off down the hall, laughing his ass off. Still, in the art room, several of us would discuss life, society, the future, and who was asking whom to the Graduation Dance. It was an oasis.
Lunch was a joy. We had an hour, and there were no rules about staying on campus. Many walked home for lunch, but I lived too far away. Sometimes I brought my own lunch. When I did, it was usually a tuna sandwich with a whole tomato and a wax paper twist of salt and pepper.
Frequently, I would raid my dad's pocket change for thirty-five cents so I could buy a hot dog. Oh, those hot dogs! Ambrosia! I could smell the onions grilling all over the school. A hot dog with grilled onions is still one of my favourite comfort foods.
If the weather was nice, sometimes we would walk all the way to the Chemainus Bakery, down by the ferry dock. They made the most outstanding pastries, including Scotch Oat Cakes, with big chunks of cheddar cheese baked into them. The walk was about half a mile, so we had to sort of hustle to get there and back, but those oat cakes, and the freedom of the walk, made it worthwhile.
They say that life is a vast ocean of boredom, punctuated with bursts of joy. This was certainly true of high school.