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Pioneers

 

All the past we leave behind,

yet we carry it in our heart,

St Helena girls through and through,

as the years swiftly depart.

 

Fat knotted ties and skinny ones too,

berets and gingham, dress code rules,

regulation skirts as we kneel on the floor,

cast off our cares as we escape through the door.

 

Dungeons and turrets, paradise road,

galleries and balcony, put on a show,

keep to the right, single file on the stairs,

spiral up to the library, for she who dares.

 

Physics and chemistry, biology labs,

bunsens and tripods, asbestos slabs,

the chemical stench and old parquet floors,

roller blackboards and the fume cupboard doors.

 

Windows that stretched for miles on end,

bring new horizons, a chance to transcend,

safe haven sanctuary for those with an art,

still part of the school, yet worlds apart.

 

Art school boys installed on walls,

language labs and netball courts,

red brick history commemorates the day,

air raid shelters for those who would stray.

 

Toilets and cloakrooms, chequerboard tiles,

lurk in the smoke room and hide for a while.

Graffiti on lockers, who loves who?

Hands off! Keep out! Music allegiances too.

 

Wait at the staffroom, hover at the door,

how long do I wait before knocking once more?

Skulk to the sickroom to skive off P.E.

feigning bad cramps of our weekly monthly.

 

Boy’s Grammar hockey, excited flirting,

navy blue knickers, unflattering skirting,

frost bitten toes, don’t kick up a fuss,

changing our kit on the P.E. bus.

 

Home economics and schoolgirl cookery,

who stole the cakes? Antics, skulduggery!

Brown wicker baskets, raise a toast all around,

we never succeeded to burn the place down.

 

Stoic St Helena with her stained glass stare,

Venus de Milo by the piano chair,

red velvet curtains setting the stage,

assembly lectern for a self-righteous rage.

 

The corridor of doom led to her lair,

hand on your knee and that inimitable glare.

The end of the lesson, by bell or by gong,

ubiquitous memories of days long gone.

 

All the past we leave behind

yet we carry it in our heart

St Helena girls through and through

as the years swiftly depart.

 

© Pioneers 20.06.2015

by Alexandra Carr-Malcolm

Photo Credit: school building and St Helena stained glass window – Claire Jones

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