Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I finally completed my School LO for BOM No. 4 - my nerves, who would've thought I'd have so much to say ....

It seems to be a trend with me lately, I am having to add tags for journaling (these 8x8 pages are way small) ... here are 4 of my tags ...

Didn't scan too well but you can get the idea of what I did. My journaling reads as follows: -

I don’t have many photographs of myself when I was growing up and unfortunately, somewhere along the line I have suppressed memories as well (not sure that I want those memories back if they are too painful …) but I will try as far as possible to fill this “Chapter” in my Life Story …

I started school in 1978 at the age of 6 years old. This was apparently the year that my mom and dad were separated and got divorced so I am assuming it was a pretty traumatic time for me (I say “assuming” as I do not remember much during this time in my life or even through most of my childhood). My mom tells me that I was very clingy as a child and I can only imagine what going to school must have been like for a little girl who would not let her mother out of her sight. I attended three schools during my first year (Rossetenville Primary School, Dinwiddie Primary School and Mondeor Primary School) – I think primarily because my parents were divorcing and it was an incredibly unsettling time for my mom who had to support us without the assistance of my dad. I have a very vague memory of Mondeor Primary School, which is the school I attended in Grade 2 (1979) – I remember a playground with trees running the full length of the fence around it and I remember playing kissing catches (tee hee) in the trees. I vaguely remember visiting with a friend who lived on the main road through Mondeor and I think her dad was a dentist because I remember a specific medicinal smell at her house and when I go to the dentist now I have memories of visiting her. I sadly do not recall her name but I do recall that we had a close bond.

Then in 1980 (Std 1 or Grade 3) I went to a boarding school in what was then called the Eastern Transvaal (now Limpopo) called Lord Milner. It was in a town called Settlers just outside of Warmbaths. I remember feeling very lonely and often very homesick. I used to write loads of letters to my mom and nanna asking them to take me out of school but I believe now that my mom was trying hard to cope financially and it was especially difficult for her because she had never been allowed to work whilst married to my dad. I recall that my mom used to either visit us or take us home just about every weekend and of course we went home for the school holidays. All our clothes had to be marked with our name and we packed a steel trunk which we lugged back to school at the beginning of every term. I recall that we used to have a Tuck Shop card which we were allowed to use once or twice a week. I recall vaguely that we had something like R2 a month to spend at the tuck shop and that this was more than enough to keep us in treats. I also recall that every time we came back from a school holiday we would be armed with loads of biscuits, chips and other snacks to keep us going for the next few weeks – I remember Clifton powder so that we could make our own juice. I remember that the school was quite large with a number of houses/hostels where each age group would stay. I was in Clarendon House and my brother was in Smuts House. My favourite teacher was Miss Pieterse. She must have made a huge impact on me because she is one of the few teachers I remember. She was also my class teacher in this year and I remember loving school and excelling under her tutelage. I remember developing my love for reading during this time and I recall that The Folk of the Faraway Tree was my favourite book – Miss Pieterse used to read it to us in class and I would be absorbed and enthralled by this story. The food was not marvellous – I learnt to eat just about anything but I could not tolerate spinach so I used to sneak it to my brother’s table and he used to eat it for me because we had to eat all of the food on our plates. At break, if we were hungry we had line up and were served a peanut butter and syrup sandwich and perhaps an orange – sounds like a sad existence but it really wasn’t so bad. I certainly did not go hungry but as I said the food was not the best that I can recall. Looking back this was probably a time when I learnt an important Life Skill – that of independence. I believe this experience is what taught me to become independent and self-sufficient and I am grateful for having learnt these two lessons, albeit at such an early age.

From 1981 – 1984 (Standards 1 through 5) I went to St. Conrads Brothers of Charity College in Klerksdorp. It was a private Catholic School and I have only a few memories of this period in my life. I am not ready as yet to delve into my home life during this time but I recall that I was not particularly happy at home. I recall that my teacher in Std 5 used to pinch the girls on the backs of our legs if we did something that he was not particularly pleased with and I also recall that the Priests were particularly strict. My brother tells me of a time when one the Priests slapped me through the face as he claims I was being cheeky – I do not remember this incident although my brother says he recalls is very clearly – I am sure I must have had something extremely vocal to say after this episode as I cannot imagine myself standing by and accepting this kind of behaviour, even bearing in mind that the schools were still allowed to practice corporal punishment in those days. I remember that I spent a lot of time in the Garden of Eden which was a quiet retreat with statues of Mary in it. I sat there on many afternoons reading and just contemplating my teenage life, which was tumultuous at the best of times. I recall mainly my last year in Primary School, Std 5, as being a very social year with many teenage parties. I did not always have loads of the latest fashionable clothing and, since I was attending a private school where many of the families were incredibly wealthy, I often felt somewhat inferior to the other girls who were always (a teenage word) dressed in the latest fashions. I made some really good friends at this time though AND danced my first slow dance with a boy in my class at one of the “social” events of the year – a party at Monique’s house. Funny how, looking back, life seemed so simple yet so complicated, what with the teenage hormones raging and wanting to remain part of the “in” crowd. Fortunately I always had a strong sense of self – who I was and how I was not prepared to compromise my principles for the sake of being popular. I was popular, although the boys were quite intimidated by my maturity and self-confidence and by the fact that I was one of the top students in my grade. I did not have a boyfriend per se but I recall many “love” letters and secret crushes. I was a Monitor (Prefect) in Std 5 and took the leading part of Mary Poppins in our School Play.

In 1985 I attended Northlands Girls High School – my first year of High School and our move to KwaZulu-Natal from Gauteng (then Transvaal). This was also a traumatic year as I had to make new friends and it was not easy coming to a school where most of the girls had already developed close friendships from Primary School. I do recall that I enjoyed French and that I excelled at this Language as well as being academically strong in all other areas. Towards the end of 1985 we moved to Yellowwood Park.

In 1986 I started Standard 7 at Mowat Park. I remained there for two terms before moving to Grosvenor Girls’ High School on the Bluff so that I could settle in and choose my subject package for Std 8. It was certainly not what I had been expecting. I preferred this school to both of the other High Schools I had already attended and quickly made friends. I was not particularly athletic and half-heartedly attended PE and compulsory swimming and athletic events.

In 1987 I began Std 8 at Grosvenor, where I would complete my final year of school in 1989. I had chosen English, Afrikaans, Maths, Biology, History and Accountancy as my main subjects and even tried my hand at AddMaths for a term or two.

I went on my first “real” date in Std 8 with a boy from Church. I was not particularly happy with going to movies with him alone so I convinced my best friend, Nicky, to go with me. Imagine the surprise on his face when he arrived to pick me up and I announced that my friend was coming too. I did avoid the goodnight kiss and of, course, he did not call me again – mission accomplished!!!

By now, I had met Greg and was “totally” in love. We started dating in October and my school report was never the same … although I maintained an above average report, I certainly was not working to my full potential.

I was on the Debating Team which won me a prize for “Best Defence Attorney” at a mock trial held at the University of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, presided over by a real, live Judge – I was so excited. I was a member of the Durban Youth Council and took part in the Junior Achievement Programme, where we had to run a mock business and produce and sell an item for profit – we made boring T-Shirts and, sad to say, our little business was not very successful. I also took part in various school plays and I did a little bit of cheerleading (blush blush). I did only the bare minimum of sport required of me, after all, my excuse was that you were either a sporty person or an academic and I was the latter … (tee hee – good excuse, huh?)

Looking back I can see that I was being prepped for the role of Head Girl or Deputy Head Girl at the least. I was selected by the Headmistress and Teachers, together with Karen Manos, who became Head Girl, to go on a Rotary Youth Leadership Course – a weekend away where we were taught leadership skills. I did not recognise this opportunity at the time – I was focussed instead on my love life and my unhappy home life. I was elected a prefect in Matric and I was the class Prefect of the Standard 7D class. My favourite subject was Accountancy and I was certain that I would complete Matric and either become an Accountant or an Attorney. Although I received a Matric Exemption, I was very disappointed with my final results as I knew that I could have done significantly better had I put in a little more effort. I did not have enough “points” to be accepted to ‘Varsity for the courses I wanted to take and I had left it too late to apply for an exception, so I commenced studying a B.Comm through Unisa, working towards a Law degree, the following year whilst working for a Shipping Company.

I enjoyed school as a whole and knew that I could achieve high results with very little effort. I was mature, popular, independent and self-confident and my report always said that I was well-liked by teachers and pupils and “had the courage of my convictions”.

Still working on my LO relating to my Teenage Years (BOM No. 5) - will upload once I am done ... whew ... a lot harder than I thought to put all of this info on paper. No wonder I haven't received all the LO's for this Challenge as yet - no pressure, girls - just keep at it ...



Sophia said...

OMG, what wonderful journaling Tracy....loved reading it all! Hope to have mine soon too.

Libby said...

Love the layout and your journalling is stunning. I can't believe all the details you girls remember....I've got a serious memory problem, I really need to dust out all the cobwebs in my mind this weekend so that I can send my layouts to you.

Desire Fourie said...

This is an excellent account of your school years. I would have never guessed that it was difficult to get those memories going, as you have related your school years in such an easy to read manner. Now we seem to know you quite well and are proud of our BOM Teacha!

I can also remember peanut butter and jam or syrup sandwiches at tea breaks during my high school board days. We had warm tea with our samies. I absolutely loved those sandwiches as often it was made with white bread which my parents never used at home (as it was unhealthy). So it was a huge treat for me.

Now we are all holding our breath for BOM No.6. If it is any harder than No.4&5 we probably need to get 2 months for it ... just teasing hey.

Michelle Ramsay said...

Thanks for sharing such a personal account of your school days. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I also attended Mowat Park and finished there in 1979.

Where in YWP did you live as I am also from there and my parents still live in Sunbird Avenue.

Will probably finish my school years this week-end.