Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Quadra Elementary School

On a walk to an appointment downtown this morning, I passed by Quadra Elementary School, at the corner of Quadra and Findlayson. My attention became focused on the students running about the school grounds when I heard the bell, signaling the end of recess. I watched as the children ran from the field behind the school, around the side of the building, to the front door entrance facing Quadra. All the yelling and laughing and excitement. I watched the cute children, with their happy, carefree faces, in their warm clothing, running around each other, heading for the door to resume their late morning classes.

And I watched for little boys who were by themselves, who lagged behind, who weren't included in the groups of other little boys, as they reluctantly stopped their games and trudged back indoors. I watched to see if anyone was left out, if any little boy had spent recess by himself, if any little boy appeared apprehensive about returning to the school with the other little boys who didn't understand him, who singled him out for being somehow different, who teased him and made him feel badly.

Surely, in all those children, I thought, there had to be at least one or two who were different in the same way that I was different when I went to Canalta Elementary School in Dawson Creek in the late '60s and early '70s. Was their experience of school today, around their peers, different from mine--better, more understanding and accepting? I hoped so, for the sake of those impressionable children who will take from their experiences in the school yard and in the classrooms today, interacting--or not--with their peers, a sense of themselves and their self-worth and their potential. Who may, years down the road, when they are fully adult, and even well into middle age, remember the children they were, and how they felt when they were isolated and misunderstood and taunted, for no reason that made sense to them at the time.

I pray elementary school now, and school in general, is much better than it was back then. I fear it probably isn't.

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