I come from Entwistle, so I went to the appropriately-named Entwistle School. One of the few schools in the Parkland School Division that's Kindergarten through Grade 9. What most people don't remember is that Entwistle School is divided into four teams -- much like the houses in the Harry Potter franchise. Gold, Green, Red and Blue.
It all started in Grade One. Early in the year, my teacher, Mrs. Maddock, told us about the four teams, that we'd already been sorted into our teams. So to start the school year, we were having a giant meeting of all our teams. When she started dividing us up, she told me that I had been sorted into Gold.
Gold was meeting in the science lab, down in the junior high end of the school. When you're just 6 years old, that's a long, scary walk from one end of the school to the other. We found our seats, and the meeting began. We had to get to important business like electing a Team Captain. I don't remember who it was, but it was Grade 9 kid. And we also had to decide on a team cheer. We eventually decided on "Gold is Bold!," once it was explained to us littler kids what "bold" meant.
Despite the pomp and circumstance of that meeting, the teams never really played a big part in everyday school life. I have no memories of my teachers looking at me and declaring "10 points from Gold!" whenever I started acting up. My friends who were also in Gold would occasionally look at me, and we'd all declare "Gold is Bold!" About the only time it ever really mattered was on Track & Field Day. I don't know if it was just my school, or all schools, but once a year, near the end of the school year, all normal classes would be suspended as we all went sprinting, and threw a shot-put, and all those other sports that people only care about when the Olympics rolled around. That was also the only time that our teams would interact. I'd occasionally recognize the Team Captain, and we'd give each other a little "Gold is Bold."
But things changed around the third grade. At Track & Field Day that year, my teacher, Mrs. Strocher, was asking us what our teams were. She asked what my team was. "Gold is Bold," I blurted out.
She consulted her clipboard. "Says here you're in Green."
I was puzzled. "No...pretty sure I'm in Gold."
"Nope. Green." End of discussion.
I was perplexed. There was no meeting! There was no electing of a Team Captain! Did Green even have a cheer? Was this legal? Didn't matter. Now I was in Green.
Grade Three was around the time we got a new principal, Mr. Thiessen. No doubt the restructuring was his doing. Mr. Thiessen was a bit of a physical fitness nut. He loved boasting that he was once an assistant coach for the B.C. Lions. And so, Track & Field Day began expanding. When the Winter Olympics in Calgary rolled around, we held our own Winter Games. Now the Winter Games became a thing. One year, Track & Field Day was rained out, so it was postponed to the following September. Now the Autumn Games became a thing. No team meetings at the start of the year...no devising of clever cheers. Your team was announced at the Autumn Games and that was it.
Grade 7 soon dawned, and with it, junior high. Things really change in junior high as the hormones start kicking in. Now, instead of teams, we were separating into cliques. It was a small school, and for a love of Star Trek and other similar pursuits, I was branded the geek. No one wanted to hang out with the geek. That's when I started learning what "Participant" on all those ribbons I won at Track & Field Day meant, and that they were nothing to be proud of. That's when I started concluding that physical education was simply designed to humiliate students like me. That's when Track & Field Day started becoming my Ditch Day.
Luckily, I had understanding parents. They started trusting me more and more to make my own decisions about my education. When Track & Field Day was coming up, I didn't have to make any grand, Ferris Bueler-esque schemes to get out of it. I would just say I didn't want to go to school because it was Track & Field Day, and they'd roll with it. Made a lot of great discoveries on those Ditch Days. That's where I first discovered Al Music.
Grade 9 soon drew to a close, and with it, my time at Entwistle School. Going to high school meant going to the next town over. But that final day of Grade 9 was like every final day of school. There was a massive assembly were all the awards for the year were handed out. I always felt a twinge of sadness at the awards assembly. Don't get me wrong, I always made out pretty good. But all my awards were in the fields of academics, and I'd always come home with a good amount of certificates, testimonials, and plaques. But never a trophy. Only athletes won trophies. I would have loved to have won a trophy...just once.
During the ceremonies, my science teacher, Mr. Jamison, came up to me, and quietly got my attention. "Psst! Mark!"
"Yeah, what's up?"
"What team are you on?"
"We still do this?"
"Yeah. What team are you on?"
"Last I checked, I was in Green."
"Well, now you're in Blue."
School would be done forever in just another half-hour, so I realized, at this point, it no longer mattered what team I was on. Mr. Jamison went back up to the front, and slipped a note to Mr. Thiessen. Mr. Thiessen reviewed the note, then turned on the mic. "The next award goes to the best athletes in the school. This was the team that did the best at the Autumn Games, the Winter Games, and Track & Field Day. And I'm pleased to announce, that this year, the winner is the Blue Team! I now call upon the Team Captain, Mark Cappis, to come up here and accept the trophy."
That was the only time I ever got to hoist a trophy at the awards assembly. It sat on my lap for the rest of the assembly, and at the end, I had to give it back to the staff to go back in the trophy case. And with that, my time at Entwistle School came to an end.
I don't know why this story's been on my mind lately. Maybe because it's the end of the school year. Maybe it's because the Olympics are right around the corner, and "Gold is Bold" is a nice sentiment for the athletes. Maybe it's because I work with a lot of Harry Potter fans, and they keep asking me what House I belong to. (I finally took the online quiz at the official Harry Potter website...I'm in the one with all the bad guys.)
But I do know I went to a small school with a tight budget. There were no clubs for me to join. There were no extra-curriculars outside of the sports teams. There was nothing at school that I ever felt like I belonged to.