It’s a good thing I went to a Catholic elementary school — because I have a a feeling that when my sixth grade class finally graduated, all of our teachers immediately got down on their knees and started saying prayers of thanks to the good Lord in heaven above.
It’s not that we were bad kids in the sense we tend to think of “bad kids” by today’s terms — we didn’t go around ripping off hub caps, set up meth labs or throw raging parties that lasted into the wee hours of the night. It’s more that we were a class of continuously rowdy kids — we talked when we were supposed to be listening, took our kickball games way too seriously and enjoyed fart jokes just a little too much.
Now while all of that may seem relatively tame by today’s standards of what constitutes trouble making, at the time, we were pretty much widely regarded as the class that refused to be tamed.
A funny thing happened while kids loosening the pepper shakers in the cafeteria, bringing whoopee cushions to class, making up new words for the church hymns and being thoroughly dressed down by teachers and principals for the aforementioned infractions, however.
It brought us all closer together.
In the six years we spent together at St. Patrick Elementary School, we took on an “us against the world” mentality. Unlike most other elementary schools in Troy, there was only one class per grade at our school — which meant that year after year, we were going to be seeing the same 29 other faces on the first day of school.
We knew one another’s stories. We knew all knew what everyone had been through and was going through. While we didn’t always get along — particularly during those recess kickball games, which we played as though we literally had skin in the game — we always loved one another. We were there for one another to celebrate the triumphs and mourn the tragedies.
Our class of 30 — many years later, after my mother started teaching there, I would find out we were sometimes referred to as “The Dirty 30” — spent six of the most formative years of our lives together. That’s more time then I spent with any of my junior high school, high school or college classmates (not that I didn’t try to stretch my college career out a full six years). It’s safe to say we grew up together.
Some of our fondest memories of childhood took place under the watchful eyes of the religious statues in between those brick walls on Water Street.
Which is why I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to see that — 30 years later — many of those memories remain so fresh.
Several weeks ago, one of the members of the St. Patrick Elementary School Class of 1986 and I decided to start a Facebook group. We wanted to see how many of our former elementary school classmates we could track down and how many memories — some pleasant, some slightly embarrassing — we could recall.
To be honest, I was skeptical, figuring most people would have moved with their lives in the past 30 years. I didn’t think there would be much interest in such a group and that any memories folks may have had from their elementary school days would have been long ago forgotten, replaced by more significant milestones in their lives.
I was gobsmacked to find out just how wrong I was.
Within a few days of the Facebook group’s creation, the memories of our awful school basketball teams, our field trips to the Dayton Art Museum, our favorite (and not-so favorite) teachers and our bowl haircuts and bad fashion choices were flowing. It was as if we all had stepped back in time 30 years.
Some of the more exact details may be sketchy, but for the most part — some three decades later — we remember the broader details. I guess it’s safe to say the time we spent there made a profound impact on all of us … just as we must have made a profound impact on our teachers.
And for that impact, I truly am sorry.
Troy’s very own David Fong appears on Thursdays in the Troy Daily News. Contact him at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong