Editorial from Nov 9 2017
I remember the surge of energy that washed over me as I entered through the doors of BDHS on my first day of grade nine. The school was virtually pulsing with energy and hormones and I was awed by the enormity of the building and the throngs of people that scurried around me. For a 13- year-old who’d spent her first ten years of education at Maple Ave, a primary school with a population of barely over 100, and then on to Coronation which wasn’t much bigger, Burford High School seemed massive. The two-story building was nothing short of an intimidating presence that for me, held a combined feeling of both anxiety and opportunity.
I walked through the halls, glancing down at the piece of paper clutched between my finger tips and faithfully obeying the little printed map that would lead me to my very first locker. I followed it, along with a sea of other grade nine students, up the first flight of stairs to a row of aging, particle board lockers.
Locker 510…Locker 510… I murmured starting at the windows, counting each locker until I came to mine. Locker 510, my locker, a locker painted a dusty grey/brown on the inside with a dented upper shelf and smelling of old socks, books and body odor. It was nothing pretty, but it was mine. I threw my backpack in, grabbed my grade nine math text book, and began my high school career.
The locker itself meant very little to me then, but the experiences that shaped who I was as an adolescent and later into adulthood have remained etched into the very fibers of who I am. It was in that grade nine math class that I met one of my best friends, a friend that I can still count on no matter what is going on in my life. It was at this high school that I learned that ‘alot’ is not a word and the important differences between the ‘there’s’. It was at this place that I met my boyfriend, it was there that my world expanded. It was in those very halls that I explored my independence, applied to university, formed a lasting friend circle and took the next step in my academic journey. The school continues to hold years of memories and experiences, many of which impact me to this day.
Now jump ahead with me, exactly twenty years when, this past September my nine- year- old son took me on a tour of his elementary school (BDES). He showed me through the halls, pointed out the library and gym and the offices (as if I couldn’t wander those halls with my eyes closed) and then took my hand and pulled me up the first flight of stairs.
“Now.” He had announced, waving his hands dramatically, “I want you to see my very first locker.”
We started at the window, counting down the number plates on the yellowing particle board lockers until he stopped beside locker 510.
I stood and looked at the very same locker where I’d thrown my back pack and stored my gym shoes and in their place I saw my son’s own backpack hanging there. The same ugly brownish/grey paint, the same dented shelf, the same pungent smell. My son, twenty years after me, was standing in the same hall, beside the same locker and I stood glued in place. A wave of emotion cascaded around me and as I wrapped my arms around my wriggling nine-year old and gazed into his locker, I couldn’t help but hope that he too will look back at this school and these halls and this locker with the fondest of memories.
I hope that he learns in these classrooms, gaining a foundation for a lifetime of seeking wisdom. I hope he make friends, and I hope a few of them stick around. I cautiously hope he explores his own independence. That he begins to figure out who he is and who he wants to be. And oh man, do I hope he learns the differences between the ‘there’s.’
Not many children will get to share the same locker, in the same school, in the same community as their parents. Not all will have the opportunity to travel similar paths in their own way. What I hope for my nine-year old son, is that the memories he makes walking those halls are as positive as mine were. That he will look back at those lockers and remember the friendships, the love, the learning, perhaps even the losses, but that all in all, he will come away from that school with a bank of memories that bring a smile to his face, because I know I have a whole lot of memories that do.
Here’s to locker 510 and the experiences I get to share with my eldest son.