Friday, December 14, 2007

Break Up Day

Its the most wonderful day of the year - or at least, it is for 'Salina and many of her counterparts in the Queensland Education System.

Break Up Day!!!!

I remember how we looked forward to it when I was a girl.

In those days (post-slate but pre-computer) there were 3 school terms of about 13 weeks apiece. They were long terms, it is true, but the last term was longest with the heat of Summer sapping our brains and the knowledge that at the end of its interminableness were 6 well-earned weeks of holidays at Christmas - Hooray!!!

My memory, however, is at odds with 'Salina's experience.

How come our teachers didn't quit teaching two weeks earlier and allow us to colour in and watch videos?

No, they quit teaching about two days before - but it was only to harass us into picking up every scrap of rubbish (of which there was very little - we were constantly harassed about such and therefore it rarely hit the ground); get us scrubbing desks and chairs; cleaning blackboards, science shelves and sports storerooms; sorting stuff, throwing out stuff and shoving stuff in to our bags to take home for our mother's to treasure (or throw out).

On the final day, however - break up day - every child was at school, smiles a mile wide and pleased as punch. It would be hot but we were all in our best playing clothes. Our parents also joined us in their going to town gear - with every adult and child from a 15 mile radius, however tenuous their connection to the school was.

Big Sandy - perpetual president of the P&C - would dig pits and all the boys would gather wood for fires to be lit. The ladies would gather their plates of sandwiches and cakes in the cool of the library and we girls would run to their every whim - water for the urns, scrub another pot or mug, rock the baby, talk to old ladies and give them seats in the shade.

When the fires had died, Big Sandy would put camp-pots of damper in the ashes and we would all head to the oval for various sporting events - sack races, egg-and-spoon races, 3-legged races, mother and son relays - it all happened - and prizes awarded were cheers from the crowd amidst the laughter.

At the first smoko break, the urns would have boiled and large pots of tea heralded by the grown ups, with icy cordial our treat. This was used to wash down damper and jam, cakes and slices. As children, we were expected to drop everything and attend to the older members of the community if directed, and so various of the over 70 brigade used to sit on the sidelines and grasp us to bring a refresher for tea or a bit more of that jam tart.

During the heat of the day, presentations were made - to the students, to the parents and to the teaching staff. We once presented a rather horrid teacher with the detention chair he had made our lives hell with for his two year posting as his farewell gift - the parents all applauded our generosity wildly.

Lunch was more of the previous meal with sandwiches added, and the students were generally allowed one can of softdrink and an icecream as a treat. At this point, a few yellow cans of a different persuasion used to circulate amongst the men.

Afternoons were a walk around the classroom showing off your meritorious work, plum and apple dunking (very refreshing in the heat), slabs of watermelon and finally the biggest game of cricket on the oval involving everyone - if you couldn't bat or field, you could add your power through extremely loud commentary on the sidelines.

Farewells were generally made with the dipping of the sun, as everyone suddenly remembered animals to feed or milk and dinners to be made - and as we all left waving wildly, our thoughts were not on returning in 6 weeks or the work our fathers would give us during that time - but the feeling of freedom and fun and joy.

Today, I collected 'Salina up early from school - she was one of only 10 in her class to arrive this morning and the place was a ghost town. I wish so hard that she could have the memories that I held - but we bade a glad farewell, as the outcome is the same.

6 weeks of school holidays - woo hoo!!!

This post was mainly inspired by circumstance, but the kick up the pants to actually put it down was Scribbit's December Write-Away contest - about "My Favourite Day". She has been holding monthly contests for the whole year now, and I often mean to do something about them, but this is only the second time got my act together! Anyone can enter, with entries closing December 21 her time.


Scribbit said...

I'm so glad you "got your act together" :)

That's a great name for it, "Break up Day."

Brissiemum2 said...

Well, speaking from the other side, can I say that pressure to have classrooms tidied, furniture moved etc etc means that most schools prefer their break up day on the day before school ends. Whilst it is still officially a school day, knowing how much classroom movement goes on, I don't think I'd want my kids there either. Most teachers I know spent today frantically shifting or filing ongoing data for future use (a mammoth task in itself). And do you remember when preschools used to get the last day or two off to clean and sterilise toys? I always used to laugh at that!

Oh and your memory is great. I can't remember much at all about my last days of the year at school, except that we always got off a week before the local state school and thought that we were pretty spesh because of it! Rofpmsl!

katef said...

oh they are some awesome meories... I remember videos and a big break up party with lots of lollies in Primary school and also the rubbish thing!

Julie Pippert said...

What a great memory! I'd never heard of that before and how interesting to learn about it!

Using My Words

Just-Me-Jen said...

It's much different now, unfortunately, but I do remember the last day cleanup & washing of the desks, helping the teacher sort through stuff, etc. We always loved that.
I think our kids mostly watch videos and wait to leave...

Jen at Semantically driven said...

You do have a good memory. I vaguely remember high school but primary school is a dim dark barely there memory.

♥.Trish.♥ Drumboys said...

what a great school you attended and great post title. We never did that at my school but we did have class parties and games, the rubbish crawl ,remove all the old craft/art work from walls.
The kids look forward to holiadys don't they.

jeanie said...

scribbit - thanks for the opportunity.

brissiemum2 - I can understand the plight of the teacher - the advantage of a very small school with a very involved P&C made it all possible and enjoyable I think.

katef - ah, now I feel very old - videos had just hit when I was finishing primary school!

julie pippert - the memory was helped by the fact that it happened virtually the same every year, and is still happening these days!

just-me-jen - I think that we miss so much waiting and wishing for it to end - sometimes cleaning up IS learning, and learning to enjoy a chore is a great thing to have in life.

jen at semantically driven - lol I have a lot of mental blanks when it comes to high school!

baby`amore' - it was a great little school and definitely part of the community. I think the day sort of commemorated the passage into holidays!

By the way - the post title "Break Up Day" is still the term used for the social gathering - last Friday was my niece and nephew's first Break Up Day at the same school - and it was almost exactly the same!!!