High School: the one part of our lives that seems to be so important and life defining at the time, but in my opinion, is simply just the end of our days being a child and the beginning of being an adult. My years of high school would begin in the year 2014, at St Helena Secondary College: the school where my father Sasho had been part of one of the first graduating classes in the school’s history.
High school seemed so challenging from the start, and even really bad. But by the end, I’d grown into a stronger human being.
My high school war stories begin at Year 7. Orientation the year before was marked by meeting my class and eventual Italian teacher Ms. Salvatore. They were a bright bunch and I certainly enjoyed getting to slowly know some of them, for I was a very shy young man. And I was stuck with these kids for the next 6 years. I was in the form class 7B, and I remember my locker combination was 9-31-25. Please don’t go try and break into my locker now!
I remember that first scary day, greeted by the school principal Ms. Terry, the Junior School Principal Mr. Ballagh and the Year 7 manager Mr. McGavisk. Boy, was that a scary time, in my new shorts, shirt, red woolen jumper, white socks up to my knees and shiny black shoes. St Helena always took uniform very seriously!
My English and Humanities teacher Ms. Davidson was one of the nicest people I’ve ever known. She taught with such ease and I can credit her as being the first of many teachers to identify my talent with writing. We studied the novel Blueback that year, and it was the first year I was introduced to the preferred method of Essay Writing.
Being Jordan Ristovski, I never stuck with the plan and found my own way of writing which I still use to this day. Ms. Davidson was very impressed, and I was always a favourite student of hers. She loved my knowledge of the world for such a young age as well, especially on a Egyptology project where I made the goddess Bastet out of modeling clay and delivered a powerful speech as to how America still suffers from systematic racism.
When it came to maths, I wasn’t the brightest student. My original teacher was Mr. Woodhouse, but he left to be replaced by Ms. Papas. She was one scary teacher, and you could hear her yelling from the other side of the school. I wasn’t as passionate about maths as I was about English, so she sent me to the maths assistance program with Ms. Kargas. 12 year old me thought she was a real witch for doing that, but I now know she was just looking out for me.
The even scarier Year 7 Manager Mr. McGavisk was my science teacher, and one would’ve gone right back into their shell if they realised they didn’t use the right font for a practical report. He was also an excellent teacher, especially passionate about the biology aspect of science. I did fear him though when I was wagging and saw him at the local supermarket!
My Italian language teacher was Ms. Salvatore, and I can credit her for giving me a passion to learn languages. The same format she used to teach all of us Italiano, is the same format I use every time I wanna learn some phrases of a new tongue. Easily my favourite class.
Art was taught by Mr. Glasson, and I hated the very idea of hauling a massive sketchbook into a subject I just knew I wasn’t interested in. Music was taught by the Russian Ms. McGibbon, whom I remember getting my first 100% on an assignment with, when Mum and I spent all week making a massive poster of favourite singer Katy Perry.
We also had typing and computer classes with Ms. Polyviou, and I think I’ll give her credit too for teaching me how to type without looking at the keyboard.
We also had the two technology classes, in the form of cooking and woodwork. My first cooking class was a disaster, for I was in the wrong class! I sat down in the kitchen, apron tied, talking to a cute young lady and ready to go when I was told I was in the wrong cooking class and had to immediately report to Ms. Blease’s Cooking theory class in A14. I didn’t get off to a great start with her, by explaining I’d been distracted by my timetable when I really meant the girl, but eventually she became my best teacher of all time!
Woodwork was taught by Mr. Kneeshaw, who looked a lot like a character off the TV Show Breaking Bad. Just like maths and art, I hated the subject too. But Mr. Kneeshaw always had a sign in his classroom ‘Never Ever Stop Trying”. So I can say I learnt that from his class – and how to make a smiley face on a piece of acrylic with holes drilled in it!
Sport and health were the last two subjects. My original teacher was meant to be Ms. Burrows, who happens to be the daughter of Les, the man who used to run the front office at my primary school. Eventually, she was replaced by Ms. Potter, another amazing teacher of mine who really made the idea of sport more enjoyable.
Our sports classes were three different forms, with Mr. Crowley and Mr. Frematle’s classes also joining ours. I loved listening to Mr. Fremantle talk, for I was certainly convinced that he was a preacher in his past life. Even when his sermons did go for the whole 72 minute class!
Year 7 was a defining year for me. I had a couple of mishaps and run-ins with bullies, the uniform code and maths tests, but it was a good year for me to learn what the environment called High School looked like. It would only get more wild, and in the words of the great Mr. Fremantle “Don’t be leaving too early now. There’s much more I have to tell you”…