Growing up in an Air Force family, I had the opportunity to attend a lot of different schools – some good and some bad. After a horrible 5th grade year at a public school in Atwater, California, my parents sent my brother and me to the local Catholic school, St. Anthony’s. (That was a much better option than the other private school in the area, the cuckoo school Central Valley Christian Academy.)
A 6th grade classmate posted some photos on Facebook today from a field trip we took to the California gold rush town of Columbia. Those photos reminded me about what a special place St. Anthony’s was and how much I miss those days.
My first few days at St. Anthony’s were a bit traumatic. It wasn’t just the normal trauma of a new school, it was the Catholic part that freaked me out the most. I wasn’t Catholic, and I had no idea what was going on! Sit, stand, kneel, bow, saints, statues, holy water, nuns and all that stuff was a bit overwhelming, but I adjusted soon enough.
It was a tiny school with only one small class for each grade level. Sister Christine was the nun who was the school principle. I loved her Irish accent and how she would say Tuesday and Thursday – “Chooseday” and “Turrzday”
We wore uniforms and everything we wrote had to be written with a fountain pen in blue or black ink. That meant that our white shirts (and hands) were always covered with ink blotches.
Of course, the kids at St. Anthony’s sometimes teased each other. There were cliques and typical 6th grade drama, but for the most part, we all got along pretty well. We were all pretty good kids.
We were a little family there. Our teachers brought us into their lives and they cared about ours. Heck, we even had a class sleepover at our 6th grade teacher Mrs. Golder’s house. Can you imagine that happening today?
Miss Rakow, the 8th grade teacher, was essentially the school mom. She found a unique way to connect with almost every single student there. I always liked 7th grade teacher Mrs. Musser, probably because she was the only other Methodist at the school.
The teachers there were instrumental in my being able to do what I do today. I was a painfully shy kid. I could barely bring myself to read aloud in class, much less speak in front of the whole school, but that’s exactly what they made me do. I had to do readings and sing in front of everyone in church, and I was always being called on to do stuff in front of everyone.
St. Anthony’s is where I won my only elections as a candidate. I was twice elected class representative to the student council in the 6th and 7th grades. That’s where I first got a taste of politics. Now, it’s my life AND people actually pay me to give speeches! All thanks to St. Anthony’s.
Through the magic of Facebook, I’ve been lucky enough to re-connect with a few of the kids and teachers from St. Anthony’s. Maybe someday I’ll be able to pay a visit to that little school in that tiny town in California’s Central Valley.
Here are the photos from our 6th grade field trip to Columbia, California. (We didn’t have to wear our uniforms that day. I’m the one wearing the green shirt, humongous glasses & headgear for my braces.)