My Dudley Lock—Unlocking the Future
It is 1973 and I’m 10 years old. I’m so excited to be starting Grade 5. I have my Dudley combination lock in my hand. It is so shiny.
I spin the lock combination wheel over and over. Tumbling the numbers round to the right. Turn it to the left. Now turn it right again. Pull the top, click. Pop it open. Close it. Spin the dial. Start all over again.
I’ve got the numbers memorized so it is like second nature. Spin right. Turn it left. Go right, pull and click. I giggle.
Tomorrow is the first day of school. This is so exciting. I’m starting a new school.
Starting A “New” School
Starting a new school isn’t really something new to me. My family has moved several times over the years.
But this time, well, this time is different. I’m going to “high school” ! Well, not really, but it is the old high school building. You see the school board a year earlier had closed the high school in Durham, Ontario.
Now all the high school students in Durham were being bused to the high school in the next town. Hanover.
What? They Closed The Local High School?
Sure, there had been some public outcry about the high school students being bused to the next town. Students, themselves, were nervous and apprehensive about the change. Parents and other community members in the town of 2,500 people were concerned about what would happen to the now empty high school.
But now, one year later, everyone is excited. Want to know what happened?
Change Can Be Good
Although unknown at first, this change brought about positive results.
The school board had great plans in mind. This was so much more than closing down a small town’s high school. What the school board set out to do was going to be good for everyone.
Come with me as I share my story of the effect on me, personally. As a 10 year old girl. Let alone the effect on the other students too.
School Consolidation On Multiple Levels
What a great idea! The school board decided to consolidate the smaller elementary schools too. It wasn’t only the Durham District Community School that consolidated with the Hanover High School. The smaller elementary schools combined, and then divided again. Let me explain. To me, it was so exciting.
Kindergarten to Grade Four were at one school. Saugeen Valley Community School. (I graduated from that one just a few months earlier.) Now all the Grade Five to Eight students were going to make the former high school, their home. We now attended Durham District Community School.
I’m A Big Kid Now!
Now I was jumping up and down inside with excitement. I was going to the old high school with all the other Grade 5-8’s. I was one of the “big” kids now!!
What About The High School Students?
The move for the Durham high school students was proving to be beneficial for everyone. The younger students, the middle schoolers, and the high schoolers. No more portables !! (DANGERS OF HEALTH AND PORTABLES). In fact, in 1972, an addition was completed to Saugeen Valley Community School. Combining the students from Hanover and Durham offered so much. In fact, a new school. John Diefenbaker Senior School. (and I understand they are about to get a new school again for 2018.) More students meant more teachers hired. More teachers meant a wider wealth of their collective knowledge and specialized teaching skills. Specialized teaching opened up a wealth of new courses.
New courses, new credits, new opportunities.
With the new combined school system students were the winners! Higher percentages of successful graduates. Graduates who went on to university and college. Business owners and dedicated, loyal employees came from those graduates. Greatness, hope, futures, and community came from these graduates.
Closing a local high school didn’t hurt the community. It strengthened it!
I’m Going To Get A Locker!
Imagine my excitement. I was going to have my own locker to put my shiny Dudley lock on. I could hardly wait. Spin, tug, click.
My dreams were realized. Going to the old high school while I was in Grade Five was incredible! I felt like the sky was the limit. I could achieve anything academically.
The library was a favorite spot of mine. That was the year I read, “Gone With The Wind” by Margaret Mitchell. (And no. The book is not like the movie.)
The library still contained a huge number of those high school books. So my hunger to read was able to be satisfied as I dived into science textbooks, and encyclopedias.
Because our “new” school had left behind these high school resources, we were able to participate in “enrichment” classes. Students testing high on IQ tests were given extra opportunities to challenge our minds and thinking processes.
We were encouraged to expand past the set curriculum. To achieve greater goals and learning. I was quite into owls at the time. So I did detailed essays on owls and other birds. Including hand drawn, multiple layered diagrams. Song patterns were detailed in their:
- musical tones,
- and interpretations
What Happened Next?
Well, the next year we moved to Muskoka. To be squished into stuffy, moldy portables again. Increased asthma attacks. (health link again)
So, my Dudley lock had to be stored in my dresser drawer for another 3 years until I could officially start high school at Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School.
As I Look Back
Looking back over my schooling past, my fondest memories are those times in Grade 5. The big kid in the “high school”.
The closing of the Durham high school had a huge impact on my life.
- It was incredible!
- Mind expanding!
- It opened my entrepreneur mind to limitless possibilities!
Although not so shiny now, that Dudley lock still brings fond memories. As I hold it and spin the dial. Turn right, go left. Go right once more. Tug and click. Success!
This Dudley lock opened more than a locker, it opened up the world! A world where my husband and I minister to over 2,000 families annually in our immediate region. To help EMPOWER them too, towards a HOPE and a FUTURE.
So as many schools in our region are having to do accommodation reviews–don’t be afraid to embrace change. After all–the buildings only have a lifespan of about 50 years before the cost of repairs become too expensive. But the future of the students is limitless. Even now, both Durham District Community School and Saugeen Valley Community School no longer exist. However, all these grades have now been combined (JK – Gr. 8) and now are in a NEW school — Spruce Ridge Community School. A new chapter begins for those students. What will their story be in 30 years?
Don’t be afraid to embrace change for your school community.