Biology Class with Bec

Bec and I were in Mr Tooley’s year 9/10 science class and we’re doing biology – the human body.

He asked us to pair up and take turns in going outside to put the organs inside the plastic human body within two minutes. We were learning about the organs. Bec and I partnered up and went outside. We had NO IDEA whatsoever on which part the organ went, and time was running out so we shoved everything in together…

By the time we presented this to the class, we were laughing our asses off cos we squished those organs in such a wrong place that most of them were coming apart and falling out.

It would be terrible if we had to put real organs back inside the body. OH DEAR!

All this time, I just remember Mr Tooley going… “Um, that’s… nice, girls…” Hahahaha!

First Year at Jimmies

I wasn’t the most outgoing person. When I started high school at St James, I was more scared than excited. For the first time I would be going to a big school near the city. The first day was okay, because it was mainly orientation. I remember a group of girls talking to me, they were sitting down on some seats. They said that most of them were in year 9. We were introduced around the buildings. We got called up as a group, and split into four homerooms and colours: gold, blue, marron and white. We were in room 4 for homeroom. I remember we got introduced to our classes (which were already chosen).

We had english, math, woodwork (shop A), PE, science and FPD.  I got lost on my first day, and instead of room 4, I went to the 20’s. I was totally lost and knocked on the door and a really nice teacher asked me where I was suppose to go, she walked with me outside to find my homeroom. The second time our homeroom met, I remember our teacher saying to us we were all a bit noisier! The first thing I noticed was the amount of swearing!

I also met Kayleen on the first day of school. We were walking to a classroom for english, and I spoke to her. We talked for a while and became friends. We weren’t hanging out that time though, but just talked during homeroom and other classes.

The second day, I walked to school but on the way, I didn’t know why but I felt really anxious. I had no idea why I had that feeling, but I was feeling uneasy and nauseous. That is when I had anxiety for the first time in my life. Thankfully, it didn’t last all day. It only happened on the way to school and half way through the first lesson, I would feel better again. I remember when I had math, I sat in the front and we had our PC as my teacher. I would start to feel relieved in the first 10 minutes of math and I would be so excited.

During the next week, I dramatically lost appetite. I could barely eat a piece of watermelon, and I could not control my anxiety. There were some mornings I just wanted to stay at home. I knew the problem was because of a new environment in a new school. Unfortunately, I didn’t tell anyone about this, therefore I didn’t get better. I had a strange notion that if I had a bottle of water, I would be feeling better, that helped a bit but not much. There were even times I felt that I couldn’t walk to school.

It wasn’t very long till we had our year 12 and 8 barbecue evening. I remember that I was playing some form of ball-game, and I got hit in the face with a cricket ball. OUCH! That was really sore, but it only took a minute to recover. That wasn’t a really bad afternoon, but I still missed my primary school. I missed the small environment when I knew everybody. I missed my old teachers, the students, my friends and so many more. I didn’t hate my school, but I was really with new people and it would take me ages to adjust.

Gradually, I got used to the school bit by bit. I didn’t really know anyone that went to that school. Although, in class I was always quiet, and I think that kept the teachers a bit sane. They were always telling students to be quiet, because they talked so much. The boys were really immature. It wasn’t long before I was very horrified with them. They would be teasing the girls and talking back to teachers. That was something I had never experienced before.

Year 8 camp was the first big event, and that was the week after we had our swimming carnival. I also noticed that in high school, the teachers aren’t that strict with participation. I’ve always hated sports and swimming, and I never like to compete in carnivals. To my surprise, they did not even ask me to swim. I was really happy about that, because that was a new freedom. To be able to choose if I want to swim.

The camp was not that bad, except there were so many activities filled in a day, and I was not that sporty, so it was really hard for me. The camp was a good idea though, it was a great opportunity to be at a personal level with the students and get to know them better. We did a series of activities such as abseiling, canoeing, orienteering, mountain walking and others. The food was really nice though, I do remember everyone else complaining about the food. I just loved it! The mountain walking was quite different, there was an area where leaches ruled the ground. We had them all over our shoes. This guy Daniel had about 5 leaches on his hand and they were bleeding.

Abseiling was scary! It was so tall, and we had to climb up and go down having ropes tied to our body. It was quite fun, but I think I slipped twice. We also played some games, teamwork games. The teacher was so enthusiastic. I remember thinking: Who is she? She told us each an animal to be, and there’d be two of each. She’d tell us to find our animal partner. There were some free time too, and we lived in cabins. It was somewhere far from the school, like ususal camps are. Probably in the mountains. It was a two night camp, so we came back on Wednesday.

The parent teacher interview was something else I remember really well. It was the first one I’ve been, and at that school, they encouraged students to go as well to hear what the teacher says. They were all saying that I was so quiet in class, and it was great, everyone was so happy. It was a great thing, and I do remember we said to one teacher that at home, I was loud and mischievous, I think she almost flipped. I also mentioned to a teacher that I played the piano, she suggested I should play for speech night. Of course, I had absolutely no idea what speech night was. I thought it would be great.

In woodwork, I remember we had to build a turtle. I accidentally drilled a hole down it’s face and I got a C for it. Hehe. There was about a gazillion type of tools. For PE, I was just not interested. There was a game we had to play for assessment, and I got a D+ because I just stood there. But thankfully, I got an A for the theory test so that pulled me up a bit. Phew!

During that time, I had asked my mum to take me to school in the mornings. We would leave at 8am in the morning and arrive about ten minutes later. We lived so close, only across the Story Bridge. My mum wasn’t working then, so she could drive me. She’d think of this crazy way to get in the empty lane, then switch back and forth for us to go quicker, as in the mornings the traffic is absolutely a load.

About five weeks later, we swapped classes. We did a SOSE (which is studying history), we also did computer studies and cooking. That was so much better than PE and woodwork. That was just not the type of subjects I would like under any circumstances. I loved computers, because we did typing and I was already quite fast, so I completed my work really fast and had time to do others. That time, school had really old computers, and modem or dial up internet. It would take literally 15 minutes to get into hotmail, so the teacher says ‘don’t bother’ because it would just be too slow. She was really cool though, and one of those teachers that never screams.

Cooking was great, we had a bench, which had flour, sugar and other things. There were so many bowls and tea spoons and table spoons and 1/2 cups and a whole cup and more. We had a booklet with the recipes which we were going to cook. We made some biscuits and other things. That included ANZAC biscuits.

The next two new subjects our homeroom had was art and shop B (which was metal work). At least I was a bit better with metal than wood, because overall I got a B for it. And no I did not cut a hole in the little man I made. We made some boxes I think, and a metal dude I have no idea what that was for. We now had a taste of almost all the subjects.

This was also the first time I heard the school song. I remember hearing two teachers singing: a male voice and a female. I was thinking ‘who would that be’ because the voices were coming from the microphone but I could not see who was singing. We also learnt the school song, I thought it sounded quite good! It did have excellent lyrics. Once we didn’t sing loud enough and we had to practise singing it during lunch or after school.

The first term I chose chess as my sport. There were a whole heap of others but I was not really interested. Besides that, it’s just ballgames and others. Chess was so cool, we did nothing. I remember we just sat there and watched everyone else play. Lucky no one picked up the pieces and threw it at people at random directions. That would’ve been really interesting. I was really glad there was a sport which we could sit down.

I also remember once in math, someone stole a ruler and we were all kept back for about ten minutes. That was quite funny and distant, but something to remember.

After I completed all the subjects I had to try out, we were allowed to choose what we wanted to do. I especially loved computer studies, cooking and art, so I chose a lot of those subjects. We had to do a science one term and a SOSE in another term. This was about the start of the second semester. By that time, I had gotten used to the school more. One subject I chose in year eight was junior biology, and that gave me one of my best friends ever, Bec. I now look back and know how lucky I had been to choose that class. I remember sitting in the front, and Bec sat behind me. When class finished, she asked me if I liked or disliked a girl in that school. We got talking then, and couldn’t stop.

She started to hang around me after that. For the rest of term 3, we just sat together. We wrote letters during class, we wrote at nights, and phoned as well. In biology, the best times was when Mr Tooley asked us to put the body parts back into the plastic human body. We tried but failed miserably. We just shoved those organs such as the kidneys and hearts everywhere and they were totally upside down and squashed. It was so funny because when we were suppose to present what we did, those organs almost all fell out. Imagine us giving a patient a surgery. God, we would not do very well. We just couldn’t stop laughing. That is one of the best memories and one that I can never forget.

Although Bec had some friends she used to hang around with, we still talked a lot. I admit it wasn’t always a smooth ride, we had a lot of ups and downs like all people do. Bec was in year 9 that time, and that time I had just quitted netball but I couldn’t believe Bec was actually in that sport, I just never knew.

About the third term, I began to enjoy school much more. I still missed my old school, but I realised that the new one was pretty good too. I didn’t get nervous really much, and I liked my subjects. We did some SOSE about ancient countries. I enjoyed the work we did for English that year. For math, I got pretty high results, which was really great. I think the ones I loved most was the electives. I’d casually go on the computers in the library before school, lunch times and other times. That time, the computers were old and slow, the internet was really slow too. It wasn’t long till the school got broadband, and the speed was just so great. Every time we went back for the new term, the computers would be all broken and fixing. It wasn’t until two weeks later they worked again. I didn’t know what they did in the holidays but it always didn’t work. I enjoyed going on the internet and I was starting to become friends with a few people in other states and countries through our similar interests. I really loved checking sites I liked as well.

FPD was really good, it was called Faith and Personal Development. It wasn’t really about religion, more about our relationship with our religion if we had one. It was also about morals and learning about things that should really matter to a person. At one term, all the girls went up to one of the counsellor’s office every second Thursday. She would sit us down with pillows and ask us to talk about our lives, problems and the good things. I remember most of the girls crying, for certain situations they’ve been through. It was to me, a great experience because I realised how lucky I was to have a great life at home. To not want to run away, and want to stay at school.

I remember doing the cross country that year. It was through a park I think, and there was a river close. It was only about 5km, and I walked it. That was probably the only time I did cross country.

On the Ekka week, we had two days off, Wednesday and Thursday. The year 8’s had retreat on Monday and Tuesday, but unfortunately I caught a cold so I couldn’t go. It was just a perfect timing because I didn’t have to miss any class. Though I never knew what people did on retreat, I was really curious though. I also didn’t attend Walkathon on Friday because I was still sick from the cold.

The year had gone passed, and soon term 4 was approaching. That was the last term and I couldn’t believe how far I’ve came. The time when speech night was approaching, we got an announcement. Anyone who wishes to perform would meet and write their name down. A group of people were doing dancing, some were singing and there was other performances. I was really excited but that time, I had just passed my fifth grade piano exam so there were a lot of songs I was familiar with.

That day of speech night, we had a free dress day. It was really great because we had to wear uniform that night. At about period 6 or 5, all the students that were performing went down to City Hall and did a small practise. We walked down this way that they usually go to Central, which I have never been that time. I remember watching the other performances and they were really great. We got back late though, and quickly got ready for that night.

Speech night was definitely worth remembering. There were about 2000 people, and when my name was called, I think I was excited but really nervous at the same time. I was going to play a piece called “Study” and another called “Presto”. The first piece was from the fifth grade piano exam book, and the second was from the sixth. I had spent about two or three month practising non stop and finally got the song right.  Before it started, I was on stage doing a bit of practise, a teacher asked me to play some chords so he could adjust his guitar.

I was going to play on a grand piano! I walked on stage and got through the songs. Of course as usual I made a few mistakes but it wasn’t anything major. When I finished, there were more clapping and I swear that was such a great feeling when I finished. So many parents and students came up to me and told me the songs were great, and I did well. It was so great hearing such great comments from people. Even the next two days or so these students came and told me ‘it was great’. People I didn’t even know! It was really amazing. It was almost like I was famous at school.

Shortly after speech night, we had the year 12 graduation in a church. The year was quickly passing and I was just absolutely excited that the Christmas holidays were coming up. The classes were definitely becoming harder, and I was looking forward to a holiday.

Our last day of school, we had a ceremony to finish year 8. We got some certificates and we all squashed in the library. I was really glad I finished and made it. It was such a great feeling that this was the last day of school.

Reflecting the year, I felt that I had adjusted to something I thought I’d never be able to adjust to from the start. I guess the biggest positive aspect was the school as a community was caring, they did not just ignore someone with a problem. They’d try and help as much as they could. That is the difference between a school that is good to a school that isn’t. I was glad I came to St James.

I was once a Divine Little Thief!

I will be the first to admit this here, when I was young, I was a little thief!

Seriously, thinking about it now makes me laugh. If I counted up all the things I stole, it would probably add up to $500, and I was only 8-10 years old.

As to why I stole, because I wasn’t taught it was wrong for a long time. The school I went to at that time, which was a state school, wasn’t that much better as other kids stole, so I would just follow their example.

The first major thing I remember stealing is a big box of opals and jewellery, including gold. This was in year 2.

I still remember when my teacher was so angry, but I was never caught, surprisingly! Later, I did put it back without anyone noticing. I could so get away with being the divine thief!

I’ve also stolen kids’ show and tell items, like stethoscopes (I have no idea why, it just looked nice), books from the library, video tapes, Christmas ornaments, pokemon cards from the shops, and probably more things I can’t remember.

It’s so crazy and embarrassing thinking about a little thief I was, at the same time I can’t help but laugh about it.

After I went to a new school, a much better one, I never really felt the need to steal… I probably still did it a bit, but eventually learnt that it was wrong.

St Joseph’s Primary School Kangaroo Point

Primary School! What an eventful three years at St Joseph’s Primary School – Kangaroo Point.

Three years, I have been in this small, safe place where I felt home. I will never forget the very first day of school, we had a teacher called Mr Goodwin and he placed me at the back with an asian girl named Stephanie. I sat at the back, and Steph said, “do you know why he put us together? Because we’re both (does faces) asians!”. This was just the first impression and something hard to forget.

I was starting year 5 and we had some year 4’s in the class. Our school was one of those that mixed grades together.

Mr Goodwin, I will always remember, sometimes got angry with the class that he would bang the ruler on the desk.

Later that year, I had a new friend called Diana Norwich, who came from Florida, USA. We got along really well and was great friends. Although, we did have one major fight that actually lasted a while, over a pigeon!

We were both animal lovers, and we both saw a pigeon on the ground, unable to fly. We both fought over who to take it to the RSPCA, and we were both so despirate, haha!

After that got resolved, we went back to being great friends. I would often go to her apartment, which was this huge, tall building.

We played this game on her computer, which left a big impression because the character I played died from some type of fever, and I was so not used to game characters dying from something so real. I remember how that used to make me feel so scared.

It was very sad when I discovered she had to go back to the US. It was around the end of the year, and I spent a lot of days at her place.

We collected animal stickers, and I remember in the library, she told me that she felt so sad when people say wolves are fierce.

We would often joke about when we were 99 years old, we would say “Oh, when I was young… I had a friend named… um, um… what was her name?” We would pretend we’re too old to remember each other’s names. At that time, I felt like I could never forget her, even when I was that old.

At that time, we were so obsessed with animals that we wouldn’t even kill mosquitoes or flies. It drove my mum insane!

I started piano lessons sometimes as well. My teacher was Mrs Northey, and I would have a 30 minute lesson once a week. She would get a student to get me, and I remember I was so shy at first that I stood outside the building and refused to go in, until she came out.

That was how I started learning the piano. I played mostly the keyboard then.

Our school started at 8:45am in the morning. We would have a 10 minute assembly before starting, and the principal would often come out and greet us. All the students would say “Good morning Mrs Sayers, and teachers God Bless You!”

On Friday afternoons, we would bring out the benches and have a proper assembly, where teachers gave out awards and there would be a mini performance. Someone would also play Happy Birthday on the keyboard while we sang happy birthday to students who had a birthday that week.

I remember a girl in my grade was performing a song, she couldn’t get it right a few times and got so absolutely upset.

There was also events at night where students who played music (keyboard, piano or instruments) would go and perform. I still remember when Steph’s mother would get so angry at her for stuffing up.

As I got better with keyboard, I performed “Let it Be” on the keyboard during in one of those events. It was a real experience to perform and have people clap for you in the end.

Our PE teacher then was Mr Woodcock, and I remember Steph and I thought the name sounded funny, she always called him Mr Woodywood Pecker.

Often, a really nice lady, Mrs Ellis (James’s grandmother) would work in the tuckshop (cafeteria). She would often secretly give us free food when we sounded hungry. She is one of the kindest ever, I always got so happy seeing her there.

In year 6, I was in a class with 6 and 7’s. Our teacher was Ms Mavis Ward, and I remember her all too well. We had boxes around our rooms with our books and things. One of the things she did with us was having a dairy where we wrote to her, and she would reply back. Kind of like letters!

I still have that diary and we exchanged lots of things. It was such a great way for us to get to know each other more.

I remember keeping two budgies then, and one of them died. It was really sad then, and I wrote to her about it. She was so nice to me about it!

Around year 6, I made a new friend called Elen. We were also friends with Jenny, but those two in my memories fought quite a lot.

Around then was when Pokemon was really popular, and I was watching it every morning (and taping it, since I taped everything onto a video tape!). At school, we would collect the cards and stickers. I had this whole sticker book with them, and there was a girl in the third grade called Fiona, who always had more than me. I would trade like 10 for one of hers! There was a shop we used to go in the valley/China Town to buy those stickers.

We were very obsessed with cards too. At one stage, the teachers banned students from bringing them to school, because they caused to big of a distraction.

We traded cards a lot and it was always a race for us. That’s what always made collecting fun.

In year 6, We went on an excursion one time, to a small island that used to hold convicts that were sent to Australia. I was a little scared about riding on a boat, but I will always remember that place was filled with a million mosquitoes and we had to slap each other’s back to get rid of them.

We had events at night where we invited parents over, and had cooked crocodile meat, kangaroo meat and so forth for people to test.

We also had a fun fair at the school, where we had a lot of display, performance and jumping castle!

Our grade went to Stradbroke Island for camping that year.

It was a fun and eventful time, and my very first camp ever.

That camp was so awesome and fun! We stayed shared our rooms and I remember swimming in the brown lake. I heard so much good things about the water there, and was really excited that it was all brown!

We would also go to the beach and catch hermit crabs and other types of creatures. Our shoes would be filled with water and sand.

Because English was my second language, I would often have 30 minute sessions with the ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher. They would ask me questions, help me understand better.

Around this time, I still remember some girls in year 7 were into witchcraft. One of the girls in my grade joined them, and I just remember when her friend then stopped talking to her altogether. I felt really sorry for her then.

We also had different themes for assemblies. One year level would perform each week.

One Christmas, our class sang the 12 Days of Christmas, Australian style, so all the gifts were Australian, such as kangaroos, etc.

One of my all time favourite classes then was music. We would have it every thursday, and our teacher was Mrs Bernadette Debattista. I absolutely adored the class so much. Firstly I thought she had a beautiful singing voice and I loved the way she played the piano. I also loved music in general, but I loved how she was so kind to us, and never yelled. It was hard to find a teacher that really doesn’t get angry and yell, she was one of them and always made me feel warm and happy, that’s when my love for music grew a lot.

We would go to the music room which was a few rooms down from our classroom on Thursday mornings. I was so sad when music class was over.

We sometimes played the recorder, we would sometimes sing. Some of the songs I remember playing are: Hot Cross Buns, Canon in D (her piano to it was absolutely stunning!)

Somedays, we would have a choir after morning tea or lunch. This was always my absolute favourite, when we’re given sheets and we sing. We sang so many great songs that I will always remember, including Puff the Magic Dragon, which I thought was so sad, as well as many Christmas songs like White Christmas, Joy to the World and Long Time Ago In Bethlehem. We even performed Long Time Ago In Bethlehem in a Christmas concert!

Music class was my love then. I was obsessed! I thought Thursday was the best day ever. I just couldn’t wait.

One of the things I remember was I could never remember the awesome tunes to the new songs we were given to sing. Once, I even recorded it on a tape recorder, but I did the most silly thing ever to leave it at a phone booth.

I also started learning the flute for a while then. My flute teacher for some reason always talked in a funny way that I would laugh every time I see her.

Year 7 was a very nice year for us. I loved it very much. We had a new teacher, called Ms Kerry Weber.

She was very nice, and patient.

Around then, Elen was starting to be friends with another girl, Gina. I was feeling quite left out then, and I will always remember the kindness of Ms Weber, when she gave a speech to our class, and now that I think about it, I know she was trying to help me. She told the class that sometimes, we make new friends, but we should never forget our old ones. Actually, after that, Elen came to me and included me a lot in her things. I was so happy! I owe this to a teacher who observed and saw something like this, which I’ll always be grateful to.

However, all my problems with friends were solved when there was a new girl arriving in our grade, Yaeram Kim. She was from Korea and hardly knew English.

I remember when she first came, she could barely say a few words, perhaps “toilet”, and “yes” or “no”.

I spoke to her slowly each day, until her English gradually improved. We were becoming wonderful friends.

This was some people in our grade having fun!

I will always remember in the afternoon, Yaeram and I would be laughing and having fun, but in the morning when she arrived at school, she always looked down, unhappy and distant. I would always be afraid to talk to her, so I waited until she spoke to me.

Yaeram and I have a few photos together, which is rare as I hardly had photos of Primary School days.

Yaeram and I were crazy. We made up so many nicknames for students.

One of the guys was called Skeleton, don’t ask me why – because I have no idea. Another, we called him Nest because his hair was quite often messy, which is good for a little bird to live. Favourite was a name we called our favourite teacher. We never called them that in their face though, only when we talked about them.

We were also into connecting with spirits then. She was telling me all these ghost stories.

Yaeram and I would always split our lunch and give each other half. I loved her food so much, as her dad was a chef. She had the  most delicious korean style meals.

I would always bring chicken wings, and we would swap. Yaeram’s mother would also take us to McDonalds near the school and we would pig out.

I was such a chubby little kid then.

Around that time, I also got into this amazing series called Digimon, which was on Cheez TV, which I was so absolutely mad about! I sat in front of the TV each morning, taping that. I would go on this website that had a tonne of screenshots and print them all out and put it in bag.

For sports, I played netball for a while. I have to say this is one of my favourite sports at St Joseph’s. I never liked sports or competition, but this was an exception. Perhaps it was the girls really doing their jobs including me, making me feel a part of the team, they were patient and explained things. I loved it! I actually loved it so much I was excited to play each week.

We would often go out and play against other schools. I remember how I actually felt important.

I loved netball better than any other sport, because people didn’t chase after me trying to snatch balls, like basketball. It was a much gentler sport!

Multicultural dinner was something I attended and really enjoyed, and one of the few events that I had photos of.

And look at me there, about to pig out on that food!

Multicultural week was to celebrate all the different cultures at school. We all brought a plate of food from our own culture and shared it with everyone.

Soon, it was time for graduation. It was a very sad time, and at that time, to leave everything I had been used to, and going to a new school was unthinkable. I hated that idea so much and resented it badly. One afternoon, I went to St James College to look around. Jimmies was so kind enough to give us a bursary, so that we didn’t have to pay the full fee as we had a lot of financial issues then.

I still remember visiting St James and absolutely freaking out because it was so different. I just wanted to stay in my comfort zone and never leave.

Little did I know what was waiting for me!

Graduation was a very sad time. We listened to Vitamin C’s Friends Forever song, during graduation.

I felt so sorry for leaving Yaeram behind, like in the past when friends left me. It was lucky because soon, she went back to Korea as well.

Primary School was a beautiful part of my life. I always remember the fun times, the teachers, the events and little things that happened. I thank all the teachers who cared so much about me, and tried to help me develop into a more outgoing person.

When I was Young

I was able to scan a lot of photos when I was younger.

This was when I lived in Shaoxing with my grandparents. I also have photos of when I was living in Shanghai. The very last photo was taken in Australia with my neighbour’s son.

Family photo with my grandmother, grandfather and mum.

I have no idea how old I was, but I was being a naughty little kid, playing with goose and all types of things.

I was probably trying to throw those at the poor goose.

Having much fun!

I drew all over my shirt when I was young. I actually still remember that!

Grumpy because it’s all too hot!

With my whole family – grandfather, grandmother, mum, uncle and aunt!

Yes, I loved sitting on my bed with all the toys!

My grandparents always took me out and played with me!

Trying to look elegant there.

Me and my cousin, Xiaoyi! She is five years younger than me.

This was taken in Shanghai, probably when I was 7.

Did my mum put makeup on me?

This is one of the earliest photos I have, besides my baby pictures in China. I was probably 9 or 10 years old, and playing with my neighbour’s son.I still remember when his mother got so angry with him cos she thought he said “fuck”, but in reality he was trying to say frog. This does sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

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