Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 33, September 1989
[author Don Adams? - E]
Teaching in a District High School can have its moments, like when just after the War a young teacher, not long out of the Navy and a keen rugby player, assisted in coaching the school First XV. He was challenged to race the length of the bottom field against the school speedsters. In front of a large audience of pupils he sped down the track to win by two feet. However, due to the short dead ball line he was unable to stop in time and disappeared into the scrub and blackberries. He was rescued by the lads, bloodied but unbeaten.
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Same teacher took his class to the town swimming baths in Kenny Street; no filtration plants in those days, only somewhat murky water from the mine. On checking the dressing sheds at the completion of the swimming lesson said teacher came across a full set of boy's clothing; hells bells - a missing child! Grabbing the four most competent swimmers he dived into the pool and they carried out a groping search along the gloomy bottom. On surfacing for air they were greeted with "Sir, here's John", as he walked back through the gate licking an icecream that he had decided to buy at the Kenny Street Store before getting dressed. Corporal punishment had not been banned in those days.
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This teacher's first allocated classroom was in the old School of Mines situated on the southern end of the High School grounds - a virtual rabbit warren of tiny rooms and rambling passageways, a mecca of real enjoyment for his group of high spirited youngsters. One never knew what to expect on returning from morning tea - perhaps the two Shirleys squealing to be let out of an old science cupboard - a pile of clay crucibles balanced just inside the classroom door, or very dubious variations of hide and seek in this labyrinth, but always a fierce parochialism in defending their sacred territory from marauding pupils of other classrooms.
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The Arts Shield always created a break from normal classroom routine with the school divided into two houses, Arawa and Tainui, and an avid competition to represent your house in the play, the choir, speeches and recitations. Every child and teacher was involved and the rivalry built up to boiling point.
It was very surprising to watch the most unlikely male choristers from the fourth and fifth forms beating a path to the music room daily - perhaps it was the charm of one Miss B. and her long brown hair that was the attraction, as some of those boys couldn't sing a note in tune,
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The old rake, towing its string of ore-laden wagons to the Waikino battery, passed under the footbridge by the schools main entrance. It was quite amazing now accurate some young potential bomb-aimers became in dropping missiles down the narrow funnel, much to the displeasure of the engine drivers. Then there were the budding ship's engineers who delighted in stoking up the pot-bellied stoves till they glowed and the chimneys emitted a pungent aroma of blistering paint.
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The staff, too, were an interesting group, all actively involved in sporting and cultural pursuits and interests ranging from top tennis players to basketball coaches, rugby representatives to low handicap golfers, life saving coaches to rep cricketer's, and the majority were involved with the Community Arts Service, making up most of the cast and stage crew in such productions as 'The Ghost Train'.
Yes, teaching in a country District High School can have its moments.