HIGH SCHOOL RADICAL
Wynyard had a “Composite” high school (WCHS) combining junior (i.e. Grades 7 – 9) and senior (i.e. Grades 10 - 12) grades. It was a great environment where the junior grades had most of their classes on the main floor and were eager to move to the second floor for their senior years.
I found, especially after grade nine, I did not fit in any of the conventional high school cliques. I was not a jock, not in band, not an angry teenager, not the class clown, not the drinking partying type, and although I was nerdy, not the classical nerd. I tended to be more of an outsider who interacted with everyone. In retrospect I am still like that. I like to be on the edge looking in trying to understand what drives behaviors around me. In other words, I am more of watcher versus a joiner. Perhaps I would make a good anthropologist.
In my senior years I did try out for the WCHS football team – The Golden Bears. I realized after one practice that I liked my neck too much. This is despite the football team being very popular, especially with the fairer sex. The WCHS Golden Bears are still a big deal. The current WCHS web page has the title “WCHS – Home of the Bears” (https://www.horizonsd.ca/school/wynyardhigh/Pages/default.aspx).
I did not have to work very hard to maintain good grades. This gave me time to do a lot of snowmobiling, play D & D with friends and teachers, and conduct after hours school science lab experiments some of which are described in the “Early Days” section.
I had a darkroom in my basement and, together with one of my classmates (Dave), we developed and printed all the yearbook photos. We also had a good business printing calendars and posters of the cool bands of the time – Loverboy, Streetheart … “Meanwhile,,,, back in Paris,,, I was embarrassed…”, April Wine. The first two bands in this list played at teen dances at the Wynyard Civic Centre!
I was elected the Student Council President in Grade 12 and officiated as MC at my graduation. Grade 12 was a year of rebellion against “the man”.
Traditionally the Grade 12 students voted for the next Senior Student Council. The Principal wanted the incoming Grade nines to vote and not the Grade twelves. The Senior Student Council felt the Grade twelves would have a better handle on the candidates than the incoming Grade nines and that we should still get to vote.
The Senior Student Council called a general school assembly to put this to a vote. The vote to allow the Grade twelves to vote was almost unanimously supported by the entire student body. The principal immediately vetoed the outcome. We immediately boycotted the vote and the election was held the next fall.
We also got in trouble with the Superintendent. Historically the Grade twelves took half a day off to pick a grad party spot. Traditionally this was in an agreeable farmer’s field with good vehicle access and a fire pit. The superintendent decided that this tradition should stop and directed the Principal to not allow the half day off. We objected and said we would take if off anyways. The Superintendent responded by sending a letter to our parents quoting SK Education Regulations about the consequences to our parents, and us, if we took time off for this activity.
Unfortunately, he quoted the wrong section of regulations. The section he quoted related to truancy by students who were younger than us and who could be compelled to go to school (I think it was pre-Grade 10). We pointed this error out to our Principal and asked for a correction to be sent out. Nada happened.
I partnered with one of my Senior Student Council members and we penned a letter to the editor in our local newspaper, the Wynyard Advance. Our Principal wanted to vet the letter before we sent it. We gave him a copy after we had submitted it. We essentially, and diplomatically, accused the Superintendent of thinking our parents were so stupid that they could be misled by the incorrect regulation reference.
There were no consequences when we took our half day off to scout out a grad party location.
I also had good relationships with the pastors/ministers of most of the main churches in Wynyard and routinely engaged them in discussions on religion and society. I am still grateful for being invited to give a sermon at the local Lutheran Church. I spoke on the shifting the focus to the life and teachings of Christ versus his death as I felt his death would have little meaning without his revelations. Even in retrospect this seems a little deep for a teenager. There is more to say on religion but I will leave this to another time.
Wynyard Lutheran Church
I should mention the public speaking exercise we had to do in grade 12 English class. We had to pick a topic and prepare a ~ ½ hour talk for our class. The topics had to be approved by the English teacher. My topic was “The downside of sex during high school”. We had a number of teen pregnancies and I thought it was important to have the discussion amongst ourselves as there was no real sex ed at that time other than the junior high segregated boys and girls animated films outlining “body parts” and expected changes.
The teacher stood awkwardly, and silently, in the corner during my talk. There was a good student discussion after the talk and I recall it being, overall, a positive experience.
I had a great high school experience. It helped shape who I am.