It was bright and sunny on that particular afternoon that smelled strongly of fresh cut grass, where I took a walk by the elementary school down the street as they were having recess. The time on my phone said just after twelve, so I figured they were on their lunch break. Children ran wild, their shrieks and laughter resonating through the neighborhood. Most days I can hear them through my open windows while I go about my day. Most days I don’t think much about it.
Something happened to me though, as I walked by. I found myself slowing down to take it all in. A group of boys and girls of
various ages played tag, running zig-zags and circles around other students. Off to one side several children played on the monkey bars, their little legs and feet dangling in the air while others waited for their turn. A teacher stood nearby watching.
I caught sight of a small group of girls playing beneath one of the trees along the edge of the playground. They twisted and pulled at the branches while they talked and laughed. Nearby two older girls walked with their arms linked and their head together as if sharing a secret. A teacher wearing a reflective vest, carrying a clipboard, followed an angry little girl towards a group of boys. And there, in the corner or the playground, hidden by the tall bushes along the fence, a little girl stands alone, watching the other children.
Suddenly I was seeing myself as I was 14 years ago. Playing underneath the same tree with my sister at recess. Myself following my favorite teachers around the playground when I didn’t feel like playing with my sister. But while recess had been fun, my favorite place was always the library, and the pick-your-own-adventure books I found there. I remember hating the fact that there was a limit on how many books I was allowed to sign out. I’d always be back a couple days later for more. At first the teachers didn’t believe me when I told them I was done and ready for another. But they got used to me soon enough.
It saddens me now that I think of it. Since the elementary school I went to all those years ago just closed their doors to students for the very last time. Never again will the hallways fill with the echo of students scrambling to their classrooms, and teachers yelling for them to walk and not run. At least until the city and the school board decide what to do with Hamilton’s beloved Prince Philip Elementary, the hallways will remain empty, and yet filled with generations of memories and stories.
I just hope Westdale secondary stays standing. I have dreams of my children going there in the future. So many good memories there too! But I’ll save those for another post. 🙂