School Assembly

Back in the 70’s, most Australian schools had Monday morning Assembly in the school yard. This was attended by all students & teachers & your class had a designated area to stand (to attention). Parents often assembled nearby to watch. In my school (Frankston East Primary), assembly was held on a black ashphalt surface and in the summer months it was not unusual for the 9am temperature to be somewhere in the 30’s.

Sun protection wasn’t heard of in those days & we all had to stand there for about 30mins or so, while the head master held his weekly speech. Kids didn’t wear hats in those days, the assembly area had no shade whatsoever & the ashphalt surface got exceedingly hot. It was therefore not uncommon for kids to start dropping like flies, due to heat exhaustion! Wooden bencheswere lined up under the classroom windows, behind the headmaster & as kids dropped from the heat, they were picked up by teachers & laid out on the benches till they “felt better”.

I remember when I was 5 years old, standing at one of these assemblys on a particularly hot Monday morning. I started to feel faint & black spots were appearing before my eyes. At that age I didn’t know what was happening, only that I felt funny & wanted to sit down. I crouched down on the ground & minutes later a teacher tapped me on the shoulder & told me to “stand up straight”!!! I staggered to my feet & luckily the assembly ended in a few minutes. I marched down the stairs with the other kids, feeling warm & clammy & made a run for my mum, who was standing with the other parents.

I guess fainting at school assembly was just part of school life back then!

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