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School Days in the Past

By Various Young Poets

One of the places we visited at Ferrymead Heritage Park was the old school. The stories we heard and the artefacts we saw inspired these wonderful poems. You can probably guess which artefact had the greatest impact!

1860s Child

Gaze upon the rustic woodwork

Smell the crackling fire

devouring clumpy coal

But fast!

Equip the quill

The teacher patrols

in the dim light of the lanterns,

belt in hand

Squiggle rapidly

as not to anger

the one in power.

George Grundy, Year 8, Russley School

How to not make it to school on time in the 1900s

Clip clop

Stop with a jolt

and jump to my feet with a thud

Tie him to the hitching post

and run so fast you forget ...

“Hey, little Missy, give your horsey something to drink!”

You race back

now you’re late

The bell is ringing

You give him water

then break into a run

As your horse neighs

you say goodbye

Your feet crunch against the stones

Magpies chatter

You hear, “God save our gracious Queen”

Your feet thud against the stone steps

of the schoolhouse

One foot at a time,

you make your way up

Tears form in your eyes

and stain your cheeks,

“God save our Queen,”

the final line has been sung

You know you are about

to be hit by the cane

“God save me!”

Caitlin Sim, Year 8, Marshland School

A 1950s Lesson

start by singing

God Save the Queen

click click


feel the smooth wooden chairs

against your back

the bunch of holes and dents

on the desk


of the teacher’s ruler

hands ache

the scrap of chalk across

the black board

make squiggly words

with ink stained fingers

Mekhi Tauakume, Year 8, Russley School

School Back Then


in the classroom


at the dead blackboard

She gives you a

death glare

You shudder

“You girl, tell me what is 2/7 of ten?”

“Um 3, um 2, um 1.”

“No you idiot.”

She picks up the strap.

“Stand up. Bend over.”

Smack, smack, smack.

“Ow.” Mutter under your breath.

Smack, smack, smack.

Bite your tongue.

Be brave.

Smack, smack, smack.

Straighten pens

Clean up ink

Quick, quick, quick

She’s coming around

Pick up your pen

Dip it

in ink

Neat, neat, neat

She’s coming towards you