Miss Munroe: First School

The only school in the district was a one-room Protestant school two miles away. Our parents were reluctant to send us but keeping up with our ‘larnin” was more important than religious persuasion so off we went, Sally and I!

The school was surrounded by seemingly-endless fields of wheat, oats and barley and seemed marooned! Certainly it was unimpressive compared with our earlier school in Moortown, Ardboe. I felt that here, at last was something I could brag about! Up to now Canada‘s vastness had dwarfed anything in my experience.

The most important lesson I learned in this school did not come from textbooks. I was taken aback when the first thing the scholars did in the morning was to stand and recite The Lord’s Prayer. I had always thought the Our Father was the exclusive rights of Catholics. Also this was the first time I had heard it by anyone who was not on his/her knees. Nor did the class Make the Sign of The Cross – nor say the Hail Mary. For the first few mornings – out of habit – I crossed myself at the commencement of the Pater Noster, but as the gesture attracted unwelcome attention from my fellow students, I quickly gave it up.

Miss Munroe was young and this was her first school. She asked me what grade I was in Ireland but I told her we didn’t have grades in Ireland. At this solemn pronouncement every head in the room turned as if to say:

‘What? No grades in Ireland?’

It could have been my Irish accent that attracted attention. I went on to explain that in Ireland we went by forms and that I would have then been starting fourth form.

I felt important as I stood up to make this little speech! It was the first time of my life that I was temporarily the centre of attention and I enjoyed it. I felt I was contributing to the class’s general knowledge -and especially to that of the teacher. 

She admitted that she had no clue what fourth form meant but I seemed smart and she would start me off in fourth grade. I didn’t know what ‘clue’ meant but hers’ seemed to me a wise decision.

 I knew Miss Munroe and I would get along well!

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