Willing pupil at school after 75 years

Lex Smith (86),the only first-day past pupil attending the St Brigid's 75th jubilee at the weekend, talks to principal Chris Hogue at the school on Saturday. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Lex Smith (86),the only first-day past pupil attending the St Brigid's 75th jubilee at the weekend, talks to principal Chris Hogue at the school on Saturday. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Most children find excuses not to go to school, but Lex Smith begged to go to St Brigid's School.

The 86-year-old was the only person among the 160 people who celebrated the school's 75th jubilee during the weekend to have been there on its opening day in 1939.

He started school at Caversham School, but when his family moved to Tainui, he had to change schools.

''My mother was a Presbyterian and my father was an agnostic,'' he said.

''The big surprise was my father allowed me to go to this Catholic school [St Brigid's School].

''As a 9-year-old, I took myself up and somehow [teacher] Sr Mary Clements took a shine to me and enrolled me.''

He attended the school for two shillings a week.

He was ''absolutely thrilled'' to attend the 75th jubilee, he said.

''I was at the 50th anniversary and, at that time, it was not in my wildest dreams that I would go to the 75th,'' he said.

''I knew, to go to the 75th, I would have to live to 86 and back then, not a lot of people lived until 86, but here I am.''

Principal Chris Hogue also attended the 50th jubilee, after being appointed to the role ''only a couple of months before'', he said.

''Little did I know I would be here for the 75th.''

It was the community which had kept him in the role for so long, he said.

''It's a great community to work and live in,'' he said.

''And this is a community-based school.''

He was pleased with the jubilee's turnout of 160.

''We thought if we cracked 150 that would be our goal,'' he said.

''So we are more than happy with that.''

The highlight of the weekend was having the opportunity to put the school's history together and display it, he said.

-timothy.brown@odt.co.nz

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