The children sit on the floor in the gym. A cacophony of noise fills the space, laughter chatter and squeals rise to meet the ceiling. As the clock ticks closer to the commencement time of assembly, more sounds: shush, shush, from the teaching staff.
We rise, sing the national anthem. My heart soars. I love my country, I love our anthem, I love watching the children sing along with bland banality. My mind rewinds, I can almost hear the tape whirring and clicking, as if it were a cassette…
I am in primary school myself, almost forty years ago. My fellow students congregate in an assembly of our own. Australia has recently chosen a new anthem, to replace God Save the Queen, it’s called Advance Australia Fair and all primary school classes have been learning the words and tune to this new song. We all rise, as the principal directs, and begin; there are a few slips along the way as some of us stumble over the words. The music teacher, Mr Finger, looks down at us all, as if we are collective demon spawn. Nobody likes him.
I come back to the present, at my children’s school, at their assembly. I burst with pride when one of my children receive an award. I watch other parents burst with pride, too. I listen as our new principal tells us that she always wanted to be a teacher. Glancing around at the students present, I wonder how many will choose that pathway themselves.
As the assembly continues, I marvel at the circle of life, wonder where the years have gone. I feel nostalgic, proud, sad and happy, all at once. How much has changed, how much stays the same.
photo credit: Google Images