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.