It was the very definition of ''old school'' in Arrowtown
yesterday, and it was hard to tell who enjoyed it most - the
492 pupils or the 35 staff members.
The 150th anniversary of Arrowtown School will be celebrated
at Labour Weekend. Yesterday the
children and staff ushered in the festivities by swapping
their 21st-century clothes for Victorian short pants, checked
shirts and cloth caps, petticoats, shawls and bonnets.
Proud parents - and a few puzzled visitors - lined
Arrowtown's streets to admire the costumed pupils and
teachers as they walked from the town centre to the school
gates by 9am.
Others youngsters chose the only other form of transport
available to their predecessors of 1863, and rode horses on
to the school field, to the delight of classmates.
Discipline was as much in keeping with Victorian values as
the clothes were.
Children were seen, but not heard, as they filed in single
lines into the hall for assembly.
Normally cheerful principal Robin Harris cut an imposing
figure as the black-clad headmaster and commanded pupils to
''sit up straight, face the front'' and address him as
Youngsters were ordered to stand without talking and keep
their attention fixed on senior teachers on the stage.
It was ''detention and a caning'' for one lad who had the
temerity to look around.
The assembly belted out God Save the Queen ''with
gusto'', as instructed by prim and proper teacher Kathleen
''Vicar'' Alan Forsyth read Old and New Testament scriptures.
A boy was singled out to repeat his final year, when he was
quizzed by the headmaster.
While the lad correctly said London was the capital of the
British Empire, he was dumbstruck when asked how many pennies
there were in two shillings and sixpence (or 2/6, as it was
''Save a seat for that boy next year, Miss Buckingham,'' Mr
Harris said ominously.
One cheeky scamp failed to address ''Drill Master'' Winders
as ''Sir'' and gasps were heard around the hall when he took
a few quick pretend whacks to his backside for his trouble.
''Absolute obedience to our teachers,'' Mr Harris told the
school, with some relish, before they sang All Things
Bright and Beautiful and left assembly.
• How many pennies were there in 2/6? 30.