Fiftieth class reunions are becoming much more common. For some the thought of a class reunion is terrifying - for others they are a chance bury some ghosts.

Written for ENG 207 project

Six Years in Hell

Class reunions are all much the same, our fiftieth reunion was no different. People that wouldn’t have given you the time of day fifty years ago are now excited to see you. Normally the high school would be closed for the summer, but we have special permission to tour the school.

These are some highlights and lowlights of my time incarcerated there.

Mr F’s class was ‘Law 11’. He was a real piece of work. Bragging that the only reason his wife came with him was she had no money of her own; that he endorsed his cheques with “For Deposit Only to Account Number XXXXXXX” so his wife couldn’t get any cash when she deposited his pay cheque. What kind of man does that? The same kind of man who ‘hits’ on one of his students until her boyfriend has a ‘talk’ with him behind the bar. He comes to school with a black eye and she is forced to drop the class.

Every grade seven student had to take Mrs. L’s “Remedial English”. She had the class vote on the most unpopular boy in the class - way to bolster a student's ego. Other than that she was fairly benign and treated everyone with the same indifference.

The library is still on the second floor. It was a sanctuary for those who felt overwhelmed or threatened. Which is to say it was always full of grade seven and eight students. The librarian, Mrs. S was a petite woman who seemed to have an endless supply of matching skirts and jackets, always worn with a white blouse. She also seemed to know every book on the shelf and could instantly find a book on almost any topic. 

In grade eleven there was a new French teacher. Barely older than the students she was teaching, she had a penchant for short skirts and sitting on the front of her desk as the boys in the row of desks in front of her slid lower in their seats trying to look up her skirt. Not much French was learned there.

Mr. W and the Chemistry Lab  was a bright spot. Towards the end of their senior year, students could conduct their own experiments, a stink bomb was the experiment of choice. However, word had come down from above anyone building a stink bomb would be expelled. There are, however, other experiments that can be equally exciting. Four boys ask for the two chemicals needed to make ‘rocket fuel’. Separately, each student had enough chemicals to, when ignited, make a small flash. Piled together, it made a flame that reached halfway up to the ceiling. A smoke ring, reminiscent of ones made by cigar smokers, lazily floated upwards leaving a black ring on the ceiling.

Mr. C taught Social Studies. Droning on and on citing events and dates, as if knowing that the Treaty of Utrecht was signed in 1713 would one day save our lives; delivering a sanitized, Eurocentric and white view of Canadian and world history; making even the most exciting historical events as palatable as cold soup.

‘English 91’, the other Mrs. L and another bright spot at the end of an otherwise terrifying and completely forgettable six years. Memorizing a poem by Tennyson or Wordsworth then writing it out again, often without a clear understanding of what it meant, was and still is beyond my ken. Other than that, her classes were lively, often breaking down into heated discussions on what an author truly meant. She was one of the few teachers that seemed to take a real interest in all her students.