Schooldays - we all remember them differently... and after 40 years have passed since completing high school, I certainly wondered how those in my year would mentally and emotionally reconstruct our time at North Sydney Girls High school, on Sydney's north shore. Before the November 1 reunion, impressions started coming through on the dedicated Facebook page. Momentum gathered as former classmates (and yearmates) began to tune in - dusting off rusty anecdotes, finding and posting old photos (now digitised).
My first great surprise came via a particular conversation with a close friend who had travelled all the way from Vancouver, Canada. I learnt, for the first time, how much attending North Sydney Girls High had meant to my friend. She was delighted to have been swept up in an essentially positive experience of education, whilst I, on the other hand, critiqued the school for being focussed too much on academia, not enough on creativity. On the night of the reunion, a fellow classmate remarked that though the students had been specially selected, it seemed that the same principle was not applied to the choice of teachers... If anything, it seemed then as now, education was not adequately resourced by governments... but then again, I guess it is easy to be critical in hindsight. Certainly, we were at least fortunate enough to have a principal who told us 'Girls can do anything'.
A number of our cohort (including me) had become teachers: some were still in the profession, whilst others had moved on. The researcher-in-me regrets that I took no notes at the event, as I would like to have learnt more about the life and career trajectories of the group who completed high school in 1974. From what I remember of the conversations on the night, the career choices of the various women included: doctors, lawyers, a psychiatrist, teachers, an ESL specalist, a curriculum assessor, several public servants in various professions including statistics, dentistry and foreign affairs, a film editor, a film costume designer who had been nominated more than onnce for an Academy Award, a visual artist/film tutor, a Not-for-Profit entrepreneur who established and funds a school in Nepal, an Associate Professor of midwifery, a reading-recovery specialist... the list goes on...
Whether married or single, with children or not, most women seemed to be leading fulfilling lives. At this time in our lives, some were now facing (or had faced) the death of husbands or their parents. Some were celebrating the marriages of their own children, whilst others were on the cusp of getting their youngest through high school or university. Two of the girls in our cohort had died: valete Maxine Fisk and Julie Snell.
My one regret about the reunion is how quickly the night passed. The lead up was so full of anticipation that the event itself seemed to fly by at a hectic pace. For me, the chance to savour the taste of renewing 'auld acquaintance' was too fleeting. Nevertheless, on the up-side of the equation, the 40th reunion seemed to bring out the best in people. In fact, my passion to record my impressions in the aftermath of the event springs from the joy I felt reconnecting with these mature-women-once-girls-from-school.
I write this in part to thank the organisers and to pay homage to all those who attended, who were able to set aside the space in their often-busy lives to share the company of their once everyday companions or acquaintances. To those who could not make it to the Oaks at Neutral Bay, I hope to meet up with you at another event.
To Joanne Watters, our former captain, thanks for the anecdote about my long-ago interest in astrology.
To anyone who has more photos or anecdotes to share, I hope that you will post and share them soon!
Overall, the event reinforced how much we had all grown as people and that attending an all-girls high school had had its benefits. If I could do it all again, I would find the time to hug each person who was there and simply say 'Thanks so much for being there.'