Returning to Roots - Reflections on A School Centenary Reunion

Val MillsStarred Page By Val Mills, 20th Apr 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

Reflections on returning to my roots. Attending the celebrations of my primary school Centenary has enriched my life and reminded me of who I really am.

Returning to School

I recently had the pleaure of returning to my old primary school for their Centenary Celebrations. Not that I really ever left the school, as recently I'd been teaching there and earlier this year I published 'West End the Best End - School Memories from the 1950s.'
But returning as an ex-pupil was different, recreating the feelings of excitement and childhood even more than writing the book did.
The organisation of the weekend was no surprise for me, I'd been part of the organising committee. The weekend, however, gave me plenty to think about.

Schools are Community

As children back in the 1950s we played with our friends, our friends friends, our siblings friends and our neighbours friends. No one was exempt.
I lived the furtherest away from the school of all the kids in my class, in a street where there were no other kids. My parents mixed with the families in my street, but I didn't have that neighbourhood feeling.
At school it was different. I got to know the families of my classmates, both in the playground and when I went to play at their homes. Some kids belonged to families much larger than mine, where we three kids were spread out. These large families formed a strong basis for the community life that existed at the school.
School was a place where everyone knew each other, even though there were hundreds of us vying for space in the playground.

The Joys of Recognising Class Mates

Only a few of my class mates were only at the Centenary celebrations, but it was is if we'd never parted. We talked, we laughed, we spent much of the weekend together. Even when we drifted to talk to others, we kept coming back to the core group.
We'd not been best friends at school, but we'd shared the common experience of being in the same class over a number of years. Those common experiences had enabled us to form a powerful bond.
We were fortunate enough to have our favourite teacher with us. At the age of 83 he attended for only a short time, but he was such an important part of our gathering.

Remembering Absent School Friends

Families were important over that weekend and sadly my own brother and sister were unable to attend. I found a warm welcome amongst the families of classmates who couldn't attend. Many things scatter families around the globe and from one end of the country to another. As we get older we don't always have the money to travel to and attend such a gathering, no matter how dear it is to our heart. And of course, there are those who are no longer with us.
A special part of the weekend for me was connecting with others, especially the older brothes and sisters of my friends, most of whom I hadn't seen for nearly sixty years and some of whom I'd barely known. I spent the weekend peering at name tags and chatting to those with a familiar name. Are you Mary's sister? I used to play at your house. To my surprise, most of them remembered my name.
All were happy to talk about their brother or sister and make new connections.

Returning to Our Roots

We should all make the effort to attend such celebrations and gatherings when we can. Time passes quickly. We move on, move away, make new friends. It's easy to forget those we spent our childhood with.
Childhood and school days are an important part of who we are. Attending the school reunion reminded me of an important part of my life. I feel so much richer for the experience. There is no hesitation in my mind, I'll always be a West End kid.

Other thoughts on the past from Val Mils:

Remembering My Old Box Brownie Camera
Childhood Daisy Chains
A Writer's First Written Word
Meccanno Sets and Hornby Trains Weren't Just For Boys


1950S, Childhood Memories, Families, Making Connections, School Centenary, School Communities, School Memories, Valmnz, Writing Your Stories

Meet the author

author avatar Val Mills
Self-published writer, coffee drinker, enjoying life. Also found at and

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author avatar Val Mills
20th Apr 2013 (#)

Thanks for the Star Mark - sadly no pics from the centenary - too busy talking! But would also be reluctant to put others pics online without their consent.

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author avatar Songbird B
20th Apr 2013 (#)

Great article and a lovely share too Val..What memories this would have brought back for you..\0/x

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author avatar Val Mills
20th Apr 2013 (#)

Thanks Bev, it was quite a weekend. It's taken me two weeks to be able to write anything about it!

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
20th Apr 2013 (#)

It's great that you have such fond memories of your school days, Val. Thanks for a very nice read.

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author avatar Val Mills
21st Apr 2013 (#)

Thnks Steve, the age of five to ten was truly a special time for me.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
21st Apr 2013 (#)

Such a heart filled read dear glad to see you...

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author avatar Shirley Shuler
21st Apr 2013 (#)

Such sweet memories, sounds like you had a great time, Val :)).

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
21st Apr 2013 (#)

Yes I understand it would be unfair to post pictures of those without permission and you were there to visit, not capture photos.
Glad you had a good time.

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
21st Apr 2013 (#)

Thanks for sharing, but again we can't log in to Twitter and Facebook as government of Bangladesh banned those sites for political reasons.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
23rd Apr 2013 (#)

Lovely article and memories:0)..thank you Val!

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