Starting Primary School Years
AtoZChallenge FraserCresent School for F:
In 1961 I started primary school at the beginning of the school year at Fraser Cresent School in Upper Hutt, New Zealand. The beginning of the school year is after the summer holidays which occurs concurrently with the Christmas season, in New Zealand. I am not sure of the exact date I started, late January or early February.
I do remember arriving on my first day at school with my mother and what seemed to me to be hundreds of other 5-year-olds and their parents. Mainly mothers as our fathers were at work. From the school photos for 1961, I calculated about 100 pupils enrolled that day. By the time of the school photograph there where two large classes with about 45 pupils and a smaller one.
The first photo above is from my first year and the class photo for 1961 follows. You should be able to pick me out from the short fringe and cardigan from my individual photo. I had an ongoing issue with the school cardigans my mother knitted for me. She could not or would not knit a plain cardigan and I wrote about this in the Schools Days post.
Fraser Crescent School opened in 1956 with 228 pupils. The year I left, in 1968, the school population peaked at 946 pupils. Throughout my time at primary school buildings referred to as prefabs (prefabricated classrooms) where placed rounded the school buildings to accommodate the growing pupil numbers. There were potbelly stoves in the corner of the classroom to keep the prefabs warm. While there was no safety guard around the stoves I cannot remember anyone getting burnt. In fact, we often put our sandwiches on the top of the stove to make toasted sandwiches in the winter time.
Another school memory was every day we had half a pint of free school milk to keep us healthy provided by the government. Many days this was left in the sun and warm milk is not pleasant. The school milk was pasteurised milk so the cream would rise to the top. At home, we had homogenized milk where they break down the fat molecules so that they do not separate and rise to the top. School milk always tasted fatty to me.
The poem in the background of this photo is “The Wind” by Elizabeth Rendall and shows the style of “printing” we learnt to write prior to “handwriting” when we got older.
My education was based around reading, write and arithmetic. When a teacher read out loud the first Famous Five book in class I discovered books had chapters. They were not short little stories. Books could be exciting. They told stories. So I started reading the next in the series. It took a while. Then another and another.