Hammertime: Old school traditions never changed

This week’s Hammertime looks at old Ponoka High School traditions

Mike Rainone


As a senior columnist who loves to write tales about our long and colourful history, some people might say that I was from the ‘old school’, which is likely quite true, as so many years ago I spent 12 memorable years getting educated while wandering through the hallowed halls and classrooms of our first class Ponoka school system.

My keen adventure in learning all started way back in 1948 at the historical Red Brick School, and then when we spent a short spell during Grades 5 and 6 at some extremely cold and crowded old Army huts. During the next era thousands of our town and county students would get the amazing opportunity of reaching grade 12 in the Ponoka Elementary, Ponoka Junior High, and Ponoka Composite High Schools when they were all brand spanking new.

With sincere thanks to the Ponoka News for allowing me to just keep on writing and to all my faithful friends and readers for providing me with all the great ideas, pictures, and materials to put them all together, I will always look forward to sharing them with you each and every week. This week I browsed through many of the fine old Ponoka Composite High School Quill and Shield Year books that I have collected over the years, and picked out a few of the countless joys, challenges, traditions, and adventures that surely proudly carry on to this very day.

A 1945 Lab project to pick a perfect mate

During their 1945 Laboratory Class at the Ponoka High School (then the Red Brick) the young ladies were given a unique assignment to write a poem of what they would consider their perfect boyfriend. Here were the two poems chosen for publication.

My Ideal

I want a boy who doesn’t think that a girl should neck and a girl should drink.

I want a boy who doesn’t drool like a poisoned vestibule, a boy who can handle a car, and who won’t stop all night to admire a star.

I want a boy whose stories are never shady, and is a perfect mate for this so-called lady.

Modern Maiden’s Prayer

Just give me a man with a million or two, or one that is handsome will happily do.

A dashing young fellow is swell any day, or a good steady worker would suit me O.K.

But if the man shortage should get any worse, just go back to the very first line of this verse.

• Initiation was always looked forward to every Sept. 30th at the PCHS, the opportunity to hassle the rambunctious new Grade 10s, and then officially declare and welcome them as members of the PCHS fraternity. On that fun day most of the ‘Freshies’ were required to carry out many tasks for the pompous seniors, but then a gala sock-hop was held in the evening, featuring spot and bingo dances and treats until 11:30 p.m. Usually most of the chaperoning parents were there to give them all a ride home, but a few had cars, which were packed full for a ride down town for pop and chips..

• Sadie Hawkins’ Day was always a very popular tradition at PCHS. All the girls got to secretly choose the guy that they would like to take out on a date, which were announced in the morning in the gym before classes started. No excuses were allowed from the guys to try and get out of granting the lassie’s wishes, and although some of the ‘shy guys’ got a little stressed, everyone walked downtown and enjoyed a movie at the Capital Theatre, where for quite a few decades many young romances have been sparked.

• PCHS sports teams were and always will be front and centre in our school gyms, sports field, and rinks, and their countless successes at home or on the road over many decades are featured in the lobby trophy and photo cases. Some of the popular sports in the early days were: basketball, curling, track and field, volleyball, hockey, baseball, football, badminton, ping-pong, wrestling, boxing, golf, and on and on. Those who didn’t play are always super and boisterous fans, and who could ever forget those fabulous cheer squads with their amazing ‘pom-poms’, flips, and flops? Another very popular event over the years was noon hour sports for country students, who had to spend many hours on the buses before and after school. If you were musically inclined students could sing in the Glee Club or play in the School band, which meant performing at many community events, and getting lots of cheers and free treats.

• Many of us who have left school decades ago will also likely remember that some of the most dreaded and scary encounters during our school years may have included: immunization and cod liver oil mornings, a trip to the principal’s office, the strap, detention, forgetting our homework on the bus, missing the school bus, splitting our shorts in gym class, sharing a locker with a hoarder, having too many silly crushes, and taking our report cards home while hoping for the best results. Whatever the case, thank goodness that there will always be weekends and holidays, but please cherish the fact that along the way our vibrant youth have and always will have the great and once in a lifetime opportunity of getting the best education and a little fun along the way with a neat bunch of old and new friends, who are all aiming together to soar into a bright future. Have a great week, all of you.

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