"We will honor yet the school we know
The best school of all
We will honor yet the rule we know
Til the last bell call
For the working days and holidays
For the glad and melancholy days
They were great days
And jolly days
At the best school of all."
So go the words of the 'School Song' of my Alma Mater.
Yesterday was the Baby Angel's last day. A group of them started the day by meeting in the city at the famous, original 'Pancake Kitchen' (they have their own webcam!) and then taking the iconic Adelaide tram back to school. Two assignments were due and their were summer uniforms to be 'signed' for the girls who would be leaving.
Meanwhile I was in the throes of a very intense parent meeting back at my school. Once the meeting was finished we had to debrief the rather upset teacher and then we had to come up with strategies for the child in class which required me observing in the classroom for a while. All in all, I totally missed the start of the parent get together at 2.30pm, and when I arrived at 4pm with champagne bottles in hand, most of them had gone. Disappointed by their lack of staying power I marched to the admin office and fronted one of the many ladies who will be looking for a new job in 5 months time.
"Who will join me for a champagne farewell?" I announced, and her look of bewilderment told me that this was not the attitude she had been experiencing from parents this week.
Like a lit firework, this impromptu Friday Happy Hour drew staff together from all over the building. There's nothing like champagne for triggering people's radar. Heads popped out from offices all around us. The Principal found some crisps in a drawer and voila! Instant party.
We retired to the staff room and the mood was wonderful.
"This is just what we needed." exclaimed one teacher.
"Thank you SO much for doing this." sighed another.
About 10 of us, including the BA, sat around the table toasting: the school, the parents who had stayed, the resilient girls and the staff who will be unemployed through no fault of their own. I regaled them all with stories of my own worst deeds at school and we laughed, sighed and reflected on what had been a wonderful semester and an amazing journey.
As the darkness fell and they drifted off home, the BA and I were left with her Business Studies teacher and the Principal. We went back over the events of last year; we went back over the way the school had changed in the last 10 years and wondered where the pivotal point had been. Was it the expensive building of the Senior College at a time when the Government had proposed a 'Year 13'? Was it the introduction of laptops in 2001? Was it a principal who had tried to turn the school into a 'finishing academy' when its usual demographic
was middle class academics? We will probably never know.
The restructuring, indeed re-invention, of the school as a 'Learning Community' is a bold and controversial one. For those of us who mourn the past, it is sometimes hard to embrace the future but I am sure, with the benefit of time and space, we will come to appreciate and value the new Alma Mater. Anyone can be bitter but it takes character and strength to look beyond one's own needs and see the bigger picture. I think my Baby Angel can do that and I think this journey, and her school, have helped her to do that. Thank you Annesley.
We stayed as long as we could.