Hammertime: Back to school and Ponoka’s old Red Brick School

With kids back to school, Hammertime celebrates the old days of getting back to education

Mike Rainone


Every time I drive past the grand old Ponoka Red Brick School I have some cherished flashbacks about the memorable years that I spent there over 60 years ago.

Once again it was early September 1954 and I still vividly recall walking hand-in-hand with my mother down that same long cement sidewalk and up to those really big wooden doors. There were also lots of other scared but excited children with their parents taking that same stroll into what would be the first day of the great adventure of learning and making lots of new friends.

There were of course a few tears when our parents left us there at our home room under the direction of our very first teacher, but we were all quickly given our own wooden desk, and once settled down we found out that we would only have to be quiet, pay attention, and speak when spoken to for a half day. From now on the forever rule would be to put up our hands if we had a question or needed to go to the bathroom. Some of the early rules included leaving our boots and lunch kits in the ‘coat room’, and yours truly was so small I could hardly reach the hook to hang up my jacket and silly English cap. As we all got used to that big old school room it was amazing, as it was full of books and pictures, as well as a great big blackboard with long brushes and chunks of coloured chalk, the national flag, a round spinning ball with a map of the world, and so many other treats that we would get to learn and touch from now until June, when there would be a break called ‘summer holidays.’

We even got to go out for recess on that first morning, play games, and run around that big playground full of swings, teeter-totters, maypoles, and slides. I know that many renovations have been done at that now 89 year old school, but I have noticed that those same large windows are still there, which we used to stare through and daydream until the attentive teacher or noisy buzzer always brought us back to reality. At the end of that first morning we got a list of supplies we needed, including pencils, eraser, glue, ruler, crayons, scribblers, lunch kit, and may-be even a backpack to stuff it all in, or maybe even a new bike to show off. Needless to say most of us couldn’t wait to come back the next day, and such was the humble beginnings of our glorious school adventure, and here are just a few high-lights of what were and always should be the best 12 or so years of our young lives, with only a few glitches and broken hearts thrown in along the way. There is no doubt that you will add and share a few of your own?

• Remember those finger nail/hands/ears/and hair inspections in the morning before health class? In that busy old classroom all of us were soon introduced to the three Rs of reading, writing and arithmetic, made friends with Dick-Jane-Spot and Puff, and got a star on the wall if we finished our lessons. We also got to make many neat things, and proudly take them home as a gift or to be hung on the fridge, to act or sing in a concert or drama play, dissect a frog, or go on field trips in those big yellow buses.

• In the early grades our buddies were usually boys, because we were to shy to talk to silly girls, unless they were good marble players, gave us a valentines’ day card, or picked us on their playground team. That of course changed when we got into junior high, where there were chaperoned dances in the gym, we all played or cheered for the school team, and fell in love with the cheer squads.

• Of course there will always be many challenges throughout school…homework, staying buddies with the bullies and avoiding the snobs, taking a not-so-good report card home then sitting through parent/teacher interviews, far to many crushes, detention, remembering the combination to your locker, being a part of the in-crowd, or trying to fit all your friends into one car at noon hour. How many of you recall taking cod liver oil pills, annual vaccinations, and attending classes at the army huts while they were building our fancy new community schools?

• Our parents always insisted that our school dress code was plain, practical and hand-me-downs, haircuts stayed short and skirts stayed long (for a while), respect and honesty was a cardinal rule, and the best efforts would usually bring rewards.

There is absolutely no doubt that the education process has changed quite a bit over the years, and now there are a whole lot more schools and teachers, the technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, and bike racks have been over-come by more parking lots. Whatever the case, the high quality and spirit of the education is still the best, and the opportunity and results can be an exciting step into the future for each and every student who accepts the challenge. Get ready and pumped for a great year in school, and then have a great week, all of you.

Just Posted

Alberta’s 47 legislature newbies meet under the dome for orientation day

Most new members are with the United Conservatives, who won a majority government

OPINION: Jason Kenney won by portraying himself as the Guardian of Alberta

How did Kenney do it? He never considered himself an opposition leader and didn’t pretend to be one.

VIDEO: Police dog in Oregon struck by 200 porcupine quills during pursuit

The German shepherd had to be sedated and was in treatment for more than two hours

Calgary woman killed in B.C. highway crash

Crash closed highway for hours

Assessment says Alberta woman facing animal abuse charges fit to stand trial

April Dawn Irving, 59, is charged with 13 counts of cruelty to animals

Canadian privacy watchdogs find major shortcomings in Facebook probe

The probe followed reports that Facebook had let an outside organization use an app to access users’ personal info

Provinces, Ottawa talk 50/50 split on abandoned bus-route service

B.C. has paid $2 million on a bus service for the northern part of the province

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Digestive issues? You may have SIBO

Gut health info session

Oil and gas company confirms death of one of its employees in Yoho avalanche

Dana Coffield died when he was skiing in the Rocky Mountains

Cenovus CEO estimates production curtailments will deliver billions to taxpayers

The curtailment program started Jan. 1 was designed to keep 325,000 barrels per day off the market

Most Read