Sunday, March 4, 2012

words and pictures :: high school

High school. The very words lead me to draw in a big breath and exhale as if I am Louis Armstrong blowing a trumpet.

For six years of my life, day after day, I turned up to the same three-story red brick building from the 1950s joining the other nine hundred or so students lined up in rows in the concrete quadrangle to have my name checked off the roll. The building still stands as it did back then, relatively unchanged a static presence in so many students’ lives, its rigid structure in stark contrast to their ever changing and evolving sense of self.

best friend and I in a photo both circa yr 8

That person. That high school me seems so distant from the person I am today. I barely recall her; I can only remember fragments of her. Yet perhaps she is not all that different to the person I am today? Perhaps it is just the passage of time that makes her feel so distant. It was a different time, before mobile phones, Facebook, Twitter and Google. The latest fancy pants technology was CDs and I would have to wait until the end of high school until I finally got a CD player of my own. The first in our home.

Two clear constants, a bridge from that time to now, has been my interest in photography and politics.

Prior to the digital age photography was too expensive, out of my reach as a realistic hobby – equipment, film and processing meant that learning was costly. There was a time in High School using the school’s equipment when I was able to learn, encouraged to experiment and grow. The assistance and support I received from my neighbour Tom will be with me for my life. He would spend his Sunday with me in his dark room at the back of his garage teaching me about processing and helping me finish high school assignments. He would overwhelm me with his passion for it and had so much faith in me, believing that I understood all the mathematics involved with mixing chemicals, using light meters, determining exposure times for different types of paper and so on and so on. I would listen intently trying to absorb all the riches of his knowledge but as there was so much eventually I would just let the information wash over me, unable to concentrate any longer hoping it would just somehow be absorbed.

seal and elephant high school photography assignment

Politics was my other passion. I can’t remember a time in my life when I haven’t been interested in the political ins and outs of the country. It has always excited me. The manoeuvring, the game, the policies, it was in high school that I developed my love of question time. Keating was a master and a thrill to observe. I enjoyed political history and political economics and most of all I loved talking politics, with family, with friends, with teachers... with anyone really.

high school friends

Decades later I find myself still snapping away with my now digital camera, the learning curve continuing and still enthralled and captivated by the politicking in our nation’s capital. Some things have changed, but some things have stayed the same.

graduating year 10 high school certificate

Linking up with Pip.


  1. Oh my, brave. I don't think I could write about high school. I don't think I got a CD player until college though, late college. I wonder if I'm that much older than you? And what a big high school you went to! Mine wasn't tiny, but it was small enough that everybody knew everybody else's business, and many of my teachers had also taught my cousins, sister, and brother--and some had even taught my mother. It was so suffocating. You couldn't be anyone other than what everyone had already decided you were.

  2. Oh gosh Taronga Zoo has changed so much since then...

  3. It's a turning point in everyone's lives I think. Childhood has gone and that sense of self is just starting to form and be moulded by influences, triumphs and heartaches. I don't remember mine being so traumatic (though there were plenty of influences, triumphs and heartaches!) but, funnily enough, I'm feeling it all so very much now that my daughter is going through it all (she's in year 10 this year)... funny old world ;)
    Lovely post Sally :) Kx

  4. Although life becomes more complicated after high school. I will say that my high school years were the hardest ever.

  5. Wow. High School. So many memories. It's like an entire different lifetime ago.
    So lovely to read about your memories. I don't think I could write about it without getting all nostalgic and teary!

  6. even though you are older than me (we had a family discman when I was in primary school), we still had the same fringe. hehe.

  7. Gorgeous, thoughtful post, Sally. I often look back at myself as a highschool student and see myself as silly, but mature, friendly but not especially popular, academic yet dumb. Many facets of the one person, shaped by time and experience. I know that silly, smart girl is somewhere inside of me, sometimes I feel so removed from her and at other times I am right back there again, faced with doubts and fears and achievements too. I learned so much about being a friend, a member of society and a worthwhile person. I only began to grow into myself and get to know me much better many years later. Hmmm interesting stuff. Thanks so much for sharing xx

  8. Loved this post! A little glimpse into your history and the thing I noticed the most was how much the zoo has changed LOL. I went to high school first in Sydney and later in Hong Kong for 3 years before coming back to Sydney and being placed back in an all girls school....that didn't last long and after year 11 i left and pursued my career as a Veterinary Nurse. I would have to say that animal love has been the constant in my life.

  9. What a lovely post accompanied by gorgeous photos!

  10. Love this post and love all the photos. It is so foreign to me as I didn't go to school in Australia (not to mention being so much younger than you :P ) LOL.


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