Days of the old schoolyard

    Former Invercargill Middle School pupils met at the Jed St site on Monday, 80 years on from when they first started at the school together.

    WHEN Graeme Davis’ teacher told him to savour his school years before they flew by, he did not quite believe it.

    Eighty years on, he now understood what it meant.

    The former Invercargill Middle School pupil joined 13 of his classmates at the Jed St site on Monday all of whom he started school with at age 5.

    “It’s a wee bit symbolic we’re all 85 now, we’re the lucky ones to still be here,” Mr Davis said.

    While it had taken a while for all of them to warm up, it was not long before they were sharing memories, laughs and sweet treats around the staffroom table.

    A photo book from the former pupils’ time at the school was shared around the circle as the classmates looked on in awe at how far they had come.

    Some had travelled from throughout the south, including Ashburton, Arrowtown and Te Anau, to join the celebration.

    “We’ve all had the chance to reminisce on old times, it’s better than doing it at a funeral,” he said with a laugh.

    They spoke of fond memories including visiting the Kingsland Biscuit Factory after school where they could get a bag of broken biscuits for a penny, or a bottle of sour milk and an apple from the leftover delivery crates.

    Several generations of the attendees’ families had also been enrolled at the school and felt a strong connection to it.

    Mr Davis said his class had lived through pandemics before, including poliomyelitis (polio) and measles, and if it was not for vaccinations, none of them would be alive today.

    “History really does just keep repeating itself.”

    When he reflected on the differences in schooling from then compared to now, he said there were “less goodies”, such as school camps and excursions.

    Computers were also non-existent.

    “The times tables and ABCs have definitely kept us all in good stead.”

    While so much had changed, it was special to be able to reflect together, he said.

    “It’s just very pleasing to be here and see everyone after so many years since we were at school.”

    Invercargill Middle School principal Sarah Read said staff were more than happy to share the school and talk about he different experiences they had there.

    “We’re really open to that and want to build connections with our community, this is a good way to start that.”

    Secretary Mel Seymour said she felt lucky to be a part of the group’s special day.

    “It was an amazing opportunity, it’s so great they’ve kept in contact and we’re really excited for them.”