Family: Life lessons learned in school will never leave us

Treena Mielke

Facebook is not a reliable source of news.

I know that.

Everyone knows that.

But, when I scrolled down Facebook the other day and saw pictures to go along with the words, I pretty much had to believe it.

They tore down my school.

Condor School.

It is gone, now living only in my memory.

I scrolled past the pictures on Facebook quickly, because I didn’t want to see huge machines gutting and tearing the brick and mortar of my childhood apart piece by piece.

But they did. And it’s gone.

They call it progress and I’m sure it is.

But the heart sees what the eye does not, and my heart has a thing about progress.

It doesn’t like it.

Condor School was the heartbeat of my childhood and if I close my eyes against time and distance, I can go back there in a second.

I can go back to my Grade 1 teacher wrapping her arms around me in a huge embrace when I told her I wanted my mommy. My mommy had died. She knew that and I knew that, too, but I thought maybe being she was the teacher she could bring her back.

I can go back to that wonderful ball game when I hit the ball so high and far and the whole team watched in glee until it shattered a school window.

I remember looking out the Grade 6 window to check if my dad’s car was in the driveway. If he was home, all was well. I was safe. I was secure. When it wasn’t there, I was none of the above.

My dad and I and sometimes my brothers lived about three houses down from the school yard. My sister and her husband and five kids lived across the street and on the other side of the church.

When I attended Condor School my life unfolded before me in a quiet kind of safe and predictable routine like the rows of desks placed carefully in each classroom. And my days were as uncomplicated as white chalk on the blackboards that we students faced every day as we learned our ABCs and long division.

Condor School was about childhood and innocence. It was about ball games and track meets and growing up.

It was about long division and saying the Lord’s prayer. It was about making friends and losing friends and learning the rules of the game.

For many of us Condor School was the last link to childhood as we knew it.

When we passed into Grade 7, we were sent to David Thompson High School. The school had been built to accommodate students from Leslieville, Condor, Alhambra, Stauffer and Evergreen. To me, it was a huge school, a scary school full of many unknowns. It was, of course, also full of possibilities and the future.

Years after the last one of the members of my family (namely me) went through the hallowed halls of learning at Condor School my sister donated a plaque in honour of my father which was presented to the most sportsmanlike student at Condor School. The Roy Warden memorial was given out for many years.

I think my family kept our memories alive through that plaque.

And now that the school is gone, and the plaque no longer exists we still must keep our memories alive for no other reason than one time a long time ago we all were students at a little school in a little town where we all learned life lessons that will never, ever leave us.

Treena Mielke is a central Alberta writer. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.

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