back to school

June 21, 2010 at 11:05 pm (education)

tonight i went back to my old high school. it’s been thirteen and a half years since i left, and though i went and visited a few times in my first year out, since my friends were still there, it’s still been a very long time.
the evening was a mocktail night, a chance for the senior students to hear from old girls and get career advice. there was a speech from someone who chucked in first year law yet became the youngest director at stacks law firm, and ‘speed networking’, which was amusing. with a complicated history like mine, i really didn’t have enough time with each group to tell my story, answer questions and actually give them the advice i needed to, but i think i managed to give a bunch of girls some tips that might make the transition easier when they get out there and realise the hsc really didn’t matter that much.
the place has changed significantly. not just that the hall really didn’t feel as big as it used to; north sydney girls’ now has both a gay straight alliance and a students against homophobia group. not only is that wonderful and amazing, but it suggests there’s an awful lot more going on, too.
still, i hear the place is now 90% ‘asian’, yet it was only the few white faces who bounced over to me and stayed to talk, wanting to know about student politics rather than straight tracks through law. i’d like to know whether it’s about the way i present, my name tag that said ‘scientific research’, something about parental pressure still being a strong feature of those ethnic groups… either way, it disturbs me.
nevertheless, there must be involvement in the good stuff across this reported ninety/ten split, since things are thriving. my sample size was small, even though everyone was supposed to be there. it was late in the evening, and half the girls live in hurstville, i hear. despite st george girls’.
coming back, with my thank you gift of a nsghs mug, i feel conflicted and emotional. it always was a strange place, and i have lots of not so good memories of it. but mostly i feel happy, reassured. the school looks promising, what that says about school education is promising, and what that can do for the world is promising. there is a new generation coming up, with good people amongst them, who are getting a better start in life than i did, without losing their fire.
oh, and they changed that awful blazer – the new one is still black watch tartan, but it has a bit of shape, and collars. that would’ve made a difference, too.

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