Just forget the words and sing along

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Let's have some fun today. When I paid the extra dollar to get all my vacation photos on CD, it was for a situation just like this. Here I am, doing my best to look like Indiana Jones at Lake Louise.

It's amazing what'll spark off a memory.

As I was going for a walk this afternoon, I passed by the school, and all the kids heading outside for recess. I couldn't help but be reminded of one of the traditions of Entwistle School.

It was almost like Harry Potter. When I started the first grade, I learned that the school was divided into four houses: Green, Gold, Red, and Blue. No magic sorting hat divided us...it was all done by the principal.

In the first and second grade, we were taught that our houses were everything. We'd have meetings with other students from other grades who were in our house. And we'd have strategy meetings as to what we could do. Apparently, there were events that we could take part in, and thus earn points for our house. At the end of the year, whichever house had the most points would win a trophy. There was always a team captain, who was a grade 9 student, and he was the head of our house.

Where our house affiliations became most important was at the Track Meet. Or Track and Field Day, if you prefer. It was a way of splitting up the school into teams. Every time you won, your house would get a certain number of points. And, at the end of the day, was the special "all school" relay race. We would be split up into our 4 houses. Those were the four teams in the race. A grade 1 student would pass the baton to a grade 2 student, and then grade 3, and up the line until the grade 9's ran the final leg.

In the first and second grade, I was in Gold House. And it was a source of pride. Then, with grade 3, a new principal took charge of the school, and the whole house concept just kind of faded into the background. No more events in which we could earn points. It became nothing more than a way to divide the school into teams for the Track Meet. Even the traditional "all school" relay race got ditched.

By the time the fifth grade rolled around, the houses were all but forgotten. On track day, the teacher would tell us which house we were in, and that was it. The trophy for the house with the most points was still given out at the end of the year, but it had become meaningless...a way of rewarding the winning team from the Track Meet just a few weeks earlier.

Somewhere around grade 5, I got traded to the Green House. And I didn't really care.

And that was it for Entwistle's Four Houses...until Grade 9, and my final awards ceremony at Entwistle School. Before the ceremony started, I was pulled aside by the principal. The Green House won the Track Meet a few weeks ago, but, as I said, since the whole tradition of the houses had faded away, there was no Team Captain to accept the trophy on behalf of the Green House. So, the principal had just arbitrarily declared me the Green Captain, and I got to accept the award.

It was a kind of a sad end to what started out with so much excitement and promise on a warm October day, when the Gold House had their first meeting, and we came out of that meeting with our team cheer: "Gold is Bold!" For the six year old that I was, the house was everything.

I should expand this into a column someday.

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