Grade 6

Isaac has reached grade 6, top of the heap at primary school. The grade 6ers get to wear special shirts and jumpers, and get School Leader status for a term.

In my year of grade 6 at Ripponlea PS in 1982, I was flag monitor, with my friend Mark. On the first day, we initially hung the flag upside-down, but after that it was okay.

I also got to work the mid-lunchtime bell sometimes. The bell was next to the school office, and worked by a button on the wall. Next to it was an ancient radiogram that was piped through the school intercom once a week so we could listen to “Let’s All Sing”. It also played records, which were also played in the playground to warn that lunchtime/recess was coming to an end.

The mid-lunchtime bell signified the library was opening. By the time I was in grade 6, the big hit attraction at the library was the wireless headphone system, which was connected up to a tape deck in the librarian’s office. Raoul and I used to bring in Beatles tapes to play, as I recall. I seem to remember we also played poker in the library — possibly an odd way to use the facilities. When the library chucked out some books, I claimed a couple: I still have that copy of The Goodies Book of Records, and I think an old copy of Fungus The Bogeyman is around somewhere too.

Apart from lunchtimes in the library, there was time in the yard playing mock tennis with tennis balls in the painted squares on the ashphalt; swinging around on the monkeybars; brandy (officially banned — when I got hit in the eye with a tennis ball, I told the teacher we’d been playing cricket); British Bulldog, and whatever that game is where you try and keep the tennis ball in play by hitting it towards the ground, then the wall, then back to you again. By grade 6 I think we’d grown out of running spy clubs. Oh and of course there was just walking around talking about Really Serious Stuff.

I was deemed by the teachers to be responsible enough to help with school newsletter distribution. Not so much folding and production, but making sure all the classrooms got enough of them. It felt a teensy bit special to be authorised to be roaming the school while other students were confined to their classes. I suppose giving kids these sorts of responsibilities isn’t just child labour, it’s also a way of helping them grow up.

Fun times.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

6 replies on “Grade 6”

Flag monitor, bell monitor. Being somewhat older than you, not much changed since the time I was at school. Although we had perfectly good pens and pencils, we also had fountain pens and I started up the use of dip in pens when they had not been used for years, and made myself an ink monitor.

A library! What utter looksery! In a convent school in a small North Queensland Town where an Irish nun taught sixty kids in two grades (the issue of class sizes? what was that?) there was no library except the small town library. In high school, (where one nun taught three grades (20 girls) everything except for Laundrymaking taken by another nun) there was a library. It was a bookcase – the sort with glass doors at the top and wooden ones at the bottom. Among its dusty old fashioned tomes was one I will always remember fondly – Goodbye, Mr Chips (sob, sob) by James Hilton.

We had an old-fashioned honest-to-goodness brass handbell, which the appropriate Grade 7s (this was Queensland) got to ring. The school was mainly built around a quadrangle, so the sound carried to all the classrooms fairly well (the grade 3s and 4s in the other building must have just used telepathy, or something).

Could “mock tennis” be Square Ball?????
There is a large square, divided into 4 – marked A, B, C, D. We used a rubber ball about the size of a small beach ball (put your hands on your opposite elbow – it was a little smaller than that) The ball had to bounce in your square before you hit it (with both hands together, palms facing out) to another person. The object was to keep the ball inside the square and get someone else out (getting them to miss a fast ball, etc). You started in D and worked your way up to the A Square.
I don’t know if it is played today at schools.
(No, I am not telling you how long ago that was!!!! Hint – Lets just say that I was working in 1982.)

I also remember throwing the ball (same size) up onto the outside wall of the school (until the teacher who was in the classroom beside the wall stopped us!!
:) (we’d find another wall :):):):), and let it bounce down once, then someone had to jump over it. There would be a long line of kids lined up after the 1st person. I think it was supposed to bounce no more than once before the next person had to jump over it. If you missed the ball or touched the ball, you had to go to the end of the line. You had to get the ball higher and higher up onto the wall.

School Days!! :):):)


Nah, this was essentially tennis, played to tennis’s rules, but in the school yard. Square Ball is probably much more common though!

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