by NEIL GREENLEES
DID you attend Wallace High School
between 1954 and 1959?
his week. Roberta reminisces about her time at Wallace when it was a much smaller school located on the Antrim Road.
I had passed the qualifying exam at Brownlee Primary School and older readers will recall that primary schools had a strict regime in those days and the cane was much in evidence. Therefore five more years at school held no attraction for me.
Then I arrived at Wallace and it was a different experience. Yes, there was discipline, respect for teachers, for each other and for property but it was all achieved by making each of us aware that we were ultimately responsible for our own actions and for our own academic success.
Wallace was very much smaller that it is today, both in buildings and in numbers, and teachers knew most pupils by name.
My intake started in form 11B and we were fortunate to have gifted teachers and some great characters.
The headmaster was Mr T C C Adam and he was highly respected. There was no doubt that he was 'the boss'.
Mr Hendron taught English and instilled courtesy as well.
Up until V Form we had to stand when he came into the room, or if a visiting teacher came in, and we also rose to our feet when he was leaving at the end of a period.
Mr Hendron had the ability to teach Shakespeare in a way that made it understandable. He read aloud and we followed in our text books thus avoiding us entirely destroying the meaning by fumbling our way through it.
At the end of term, when we had reached the dizzy height of the V and VI forms, he treated us to a few chapters of 'Ballygullion' by Lynn Doyle and did all the voices so well that we were in tears of laughter. '
In English class up until the magic V form we had an 'Archangel Gabriel' who was the keeper of the Doomsday Book.
Every few weeks an Archangel was elected by tossing a coin and Gabriel noted in the Doomsday Book any lines or late homework to be handed in.
The list of misdemeanours was read out by Gabriel at the beginning of class.
Our very first Gabriel was Maurice Ferguson and though many more followed, Maurice was affectionately known as Gabriel until the end of our schooldays.
After Junior Certificate, which was taken in form IV, we moved into form V with a reduced number who were going to study for Senior certificate.
We were all friends together, almost like an extended family.
It was at this point we managed to upset a few teachers. Picture the scene. It was a dull, wet afternoon, we had a study period and were studying our 'Pageant of English Verse' in general.
But our over-active imaginations homed in on 'The Ballad of Dick Turpin' and we decided (with apologies to the author) to bring the poem to life.
Margaret was selected as 'the moon shining down' and positioned standing on the top of the desk, arms raised, and instructed to beam down on the scene.
Dick Turpin, his mate Tom King and his trusty steed Black Bess were duly miscast (Dick Turpin being larger than the horse).
As the narrator read out the lines - 'Out of the stable a wave of thunder Swept Black Bess and the five went under' - Black Bess swept from the improvised stable - and several horrified teachers swept into the classroom.
The unfortunate 'moon' was not permitted to descend and had to remain on the top of the desk during the ensuing lecture.
I think I can say that our theatrical efforts were found wanting and had we still had the Doomsday Book it would have been filled to capacity.
Mr Hood taught history and opened up an interest for me which remains to the present time.
He had served in India, I think during World War II, and brought realism into our studies of the British role in India.
In my imagination I was back in the days of the Raj.
Mr Martin introduced us to the mysteries of the tetrahedron and Mr Henry might have been pleasantly surprised at the geographical facts which remain in the dark recesses of my brain.
Each year the school put on a production of one of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas under the directorship of the preparatory school head Mr Graham.
I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket but I was passable in the chorus. What I lacked in talent I made up for in enthusiasm.
The production was staged in Lisburn Orange Hall for several nights about February time and I think we enjoyed the experience probably more than the audience.
Remembering that many of us came from working class backgrounds and were first generation grammar school pupils this opened up another window on the world for us.
There were several classrooms in a long one-storey building known as the lower school and some of these rooms were not directly accessible from the corridor but by cutting through adjoining rooms.
To enter or leave one room in particular meant going through the Latin master's class and this was not advised.
So if it was necessary for anyone to leave they had to climb out on the windowsill and jump down on to the lawn.
How did we exist before the days of insurance claims and correctness gone mad? Answer - very well thank you.
What are the pictures which come to mind? The girls walking to the Technical School for cookery and needlework lessons, speech days which were held in Lisburn Picture House, lessons in the attic rooms above the office, the late John Thompson (science teacher) chasing Tim Wells the length of the school and the back field armed with a length of rubber tubing in response to Tim shouting one of his witticisms through the lab door.
Then there was the mystery of the Latin master's cap fluttering from the top of the flag pole, the long forms on which we sat in the canteen collapsing once again and this time sending the staff under the tablecloth (it's hard to remain dignified in the circumstances), the comradeship in our form and walking home through Wallace Pack on an autumn afternoon.
For example Heather Hankin (retired vice principal Tonagh Primary), Ina Ferguson (Mrs Watson vice principal Moira Primary) and Denis Rogan (now Lord Rogan).
Others have made significant contributions to the civil service, academic and business life and I hope they too look back once in a while to some of the best times of our lives.