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The Cambria Years (11-16) (Last edited 1st Nov.04)

I know that many of the people that visit this site would not be interested in what I have done in the past and many would find it long and boring - well as I have said before this is my site about me and you do not have to look at it if you don't want too - if you have any comments about these years please contact me.

It was September 1989 when I began life at Cambria and I can remember that I was very nervous about going, as this was going to be a complete change to what I had known before, no longer would I be able to walk to school but would have to catch a bus to get to school and would no longer have the same teacher and classroom but would have to move to different classrooms and it was a whole new life. I am sure that this is a feeling that everyone experiences when they start a new school.

Having spent the summer months slowly getting ready for the new school and getting all the stationary that was needed, when I started at the school you had to use a fountain pen to do all your work and this was the first time that I had ever used one of these pens and I have to say that I still have a fountain pen today and use it on special occasions.

On the first day all the new pupils were taken to the hall by the prefects or other members of the sixth form, some I recognised as past pupils from Llangunnor and can remember thinking how big everything was. The hall was a hive of activity and coming from a school with about 250 pupil to a hall now full of other first formers like us was a shock, there must have been about 120 people there. The deputy heads and the prefects soon got things calmed down and we were introduced to the school and I guess given the traditional welcome. We were then split into new class or groups the end to the old school groups was underway - there were four groups A, C, G and L (A was Arthur,and the rest, if memory serves me well were: C - Carradog,G - Gwenllian,L - Llewellyn, I was in A) and once in these groups we would remain in them for our school life, the purpose of the groups was to split up the old school classes so that you could grow and make new friends, I was put in to the A group with 5 other Llangunnor pupils and about 24 I did not know. For the first few weeks every break time and lunch time the old school groups would meet up to play and slowly these groups of old schools got smaller as members of the group went off into other groups and people came in to our group then one day I realised that there were no Llangunnor group. Somehow I found myself in the wilderness with no really friends and drifting from group to group not really fitting in.

It was when I was a fresh-faced first former that I had my first run in with Mr. Honour, we were having some bad weather and they had decided to send the pupils home early, I made the unfortunate mistake to act a clown in a corridor and make some funny noises – he heard and gave me a right telling off, in front of the rest of the class who really enjoyed the fact that I was getting ripped apart. Since that day I always felt he disliked me it was only during my last year at school that I thought he had forgiven me

I felt that in the second year I was really starting to go down hill, this I partly blame on my father and the fact that I was never home on a weekend as I would be at his house working up his garden so I had no opportunity to meet up with friends outside of school. I was still friends with most of the old Llangunnor crowd and I had also made acquaintances with a few other people but still did not feel that I really belonged to any particular group. This may have lead to me spending more time in the school library and because my form teacher (Mrs Jennifer Thomas) at the time was the head of the English department I somehow became the librarian.

I had always strived to do my best at anything that I did and I am still like this and back in form 2 I had wanted to become form captain, at the end of the day it came down to a class vote between a boy called Geraint Franklin and myself. Mrs. Thomas the form teacher must have known that the vote would be heavily against me so both candidates were sent out of the class and the vote was taken. A few moments later we were called back in to the class and told that Geraint had won, but I had been nominated for the charity committee, a position I had held in the first year and one that I would hold for every other year that I was at the school. I later found out that not one single person had voted for me as form captain.

It would have been around this time when I was first introduced to David Bull, who was a friend of Andrew Amery whom I had known from Llangunnor and they were both in French with me and through most of my school life I would have certain friends in certain classes and outside of these classes not see them.

Throughout my time in school I was always accused by fellow students of being a swot or a teachers pet and this really annoyed me, just because I wanted to do my best, concentrate on my work and was polite.

Helping in the library did not do much for my image but I guess it kept me from interacting with others and made it easy to avoid the whole social interaction part of school life. The power I had in the library was also good and this was something that kept me there. So I really am a power freak!!

During a lifetime people will have crushes on many different people and I was just like that, in form 2 a new girl (Lucy) joined the class and seeing this as a chance to make friends with someone who had no predetermined idea of who I was or what other people thought of me. Surprisingly I did manage to talk to her a few times as she had an interest in ghosts so we did have something in common, I would look forward to getting to school just so I could see her and maybe have the chance to talk to her, however the house that they were selling did not sell and they were unable to buy a house here so returned to there old house. I do sometimes wonder what happened to her and how life treated her.

Another year and another form teacher, form three saw us move to the computer room and Mrs. Ward as the form teacher. Mrs. Ward has a lazy eye and this meant that it looked like she was talking to you while she would actually be talking to someone else and this did cause some confusion.

By this time various classes were being changed and different sets were created to ensure that everyone was in a class with students of equal abilities and to prepare everyone for the start of GCSE’s again this meant a lot of the people I had been friendly with in classes were moved as was I to different sets. In English I was in set 3 of 5 and it was here that I met Nathan Fletcher and we soon became good friends, again he was friendly with Andrew so a little group was forming. I can remember that we used to have a great laugh in English but were still able to do our work. In Mathematics I was placed into set 4 of 5 but this was after a few weeks of being in set 2 and I still think that my move was more to do with spaces in the class rather than ability (set 4 was full of what I would call the people who liked to mess about in class which were not thick enough to be in set 5)

I was still active with the library at this time and so was David Bull but that soon changed when the school started using the library for other things and it was hardly ever opened and our services were no longer needed. During my time at the library I had brought in some new ideas and was even selling the books that no one wanted to read anymore (in fact most of these were Welsh books which belonged to the Welsh department but they did not have the space to store them, so dumped them in the library and I sold them off - oh well that is enough of my confessions)

So by the end of form three I was no longer with the library and out interacting with the friends that I had and thinking back I did have quite a few by this time, I may not have spoken to them out of school but that was not my fault as I was never home on the weekends.

Soon the third year came to an end and we were given the choice of which subjects we wanted to study for GCSE, it was impressed onto us that the decisions we made would effect our whole futures so we had better think wisely before deciding. After what seemed ages I selected History, Geography, Drama and Business Studies, I would have loved to have done computers but I was not able to do that as well as business studies. I knew that I wanted to do history and geography and to select drama I took a look at the other options available to me in that section and they included a language, drama or home economics, in the end I selected the one I was better at so picked drama. Business studies was the only subject that I had never studied before and my reasoning for picking it was that I was already thinking about a job in retail at this time so thought a business course would do me well.

I had by this time had more problems with Mr. Honour this time it was in a class about stereotypes and he ripped into my work in front of the whole class and even ripped the pages out of my book, he was really nasty reading out what I had written and then making me look stupid. Call me stupid but I thought the whole point of the lesson was stereotypes I did not think there was a right or wrong answer – if you want to know what mine were ask me.

Form four and we moved to the old metal working room and Mr. Ron Gregory as the form teacher, I really hated this form room as it was nearly always kept locked so we were always waiting outside in the corridor for registration in the morning and the afternoon. Because everyone was starting there GCSE courses and everyone would be doing different subjects I was lucky in the fact that I had friends in nearly all of my classes. It was during form four and a project which the whole year group had to do on industry that I first got involved with the school camcorder as that was the group I was in, we had to carry out interviews with the other groups and there visits to the local businesses (I of course was not a camera operator but the director) and we had to produce a video in a few days.

After that Mrs. Lesley Williams who was my English teacher at that time decided to start up a camera club in the school that I became involved with – I can remember that the ideas we came up with at the meetings were pretty good but I don’t think much came of it yet I was involved with it for the next few years. I met Neville through the camera club I knew him from drama class and it seemed that all we ever did was copy videos for teachers (Video piracy no less) and transferring the headmasters Christmas tapes on to VHS. Neville was someone who was very involved in the lighting aspects of drama and stage work and it was partly due to Neville that I became friends with David Johnson.

It would have been at around this time in my school life so far when I started to become more active within the school and it was at this time when David Bull and myself reopened the school book shop, the school had always had one in the past and when I was in the first form I could remember seeing it and I think it was due to a lack of volunteers that it had remained closed for so long, so because of our time in the school library Mrs. Lesley Williams who had by this time taken over in the new and improved library (since I had left the whole library had been redecorated and updated with computers and even a proper system for indexing the books) to ask us to run it and we could run it pretty much as we saw fit. As well as the books, which were pretty old and hardly ever sold, we also sold stationary and during my time there I did manage to get thing sold and created a new stock control system which had never existed before, I even managed to lower the prices.

Due to other commitments David had to leave the book shop and I found it very hard and boring to be doing this during my lunch hour when all my friends were outside doing other things so I decided to take a role in the background of the bookshop and get a replacement who could take over from me when I came to leave school. I managed to get someone lower down in the school who I thought trustworthy to take over.

The end of the fourth year saw a few people I knew in various classes leave, I think most of them left business studies, there was Stuart who I had once been great friends with at Llangunnor who was thrown off the course. He did not really care but the way it happened was not very good and I think the teacher had it in for him. When he left a few others jumped ship and I can remember the teacher Mr Carter coming back into the class looking around and saying that most of the bad elements had been removed from the class but there was still one or two that really should not have been there.

I think one of those was Martin, again someone I used to be friendly with at Llangunnor he managed to stay on the course the whole two years and finally dropped out a few weeks before the final exam for some reason. When I spoke to him about it he had planned on doing this for a while which I thought was a waste of two years. Towards the end of form four a new boy joined the school and the business studies class, Jason Killener and I soon became friends with him as he was also in the same maths classes as me.

My last year in compulsory education and my form teacher was Mrs. Leslie Williams, she had been my English teacher for the previous two years so I knew pretty much what to expect. During this time we were forever having talks by the careers teacher and having to fill in forms which in turn were sent off and came back with ideal jobs for everyone, it was so long ago that I can’t remember what it said about my ideal job.

At this stage I was uncertain what I wanted to do, I had thought about becoming a teacher but after being told by the careers officer that it would be impossible for me to do that as the exams that I was going to be taking were all of a lower grade than GCSE’s (CoE exams) - I had tried to explain that I was doing GCSE’s but she had it on her records that I was not and that my teachers thought I would not even get good results in the lower exams.

I later found out that she had confused me with someone else called Lee but by that time I had already talked myself out of becoming a teacher. My thinking was that I should look to go into the retail trade and when asked where I wanted to go for work experience I asked to go to a shop in town. The school arranged for me to go to Littlewoods – I had asked to go to a large national retailer and at first I was a little worried about the whole aspect of going into an unknown situation and about going to a place that I had always thought was a woman clothes shop. I was working in the stock room with Christina, Steve and Paul. I felt that my time there had gone well and was told by the assistant manager to come back as soon as I was 16 for a job.

Just after my 16th birthday I was unsure about going back to Littlewoods to ask for a job as I felt that they only said for me to come back for a job just to be nice that to me and I guess I was a little scared expecting to go back there and have them remember me and offer me a job on the spot, so I went and spoke to Mrs. Jean Williams who had arranged for me to go there on work experience in the first place. I don’t really know why she phoned them up and asked them if it was okay for me to go and see them about a job but I am glad that she did because I don’t think I would have had the courage to go in and see them. I was however told to go and speak to Sheila Elias who was the personnel/assistant manager and she gave me an application form and told me to fill it in and to mark the front of it so that it stood out which I did and waited. (I did not hear back from them until September and will talk about my time here at a later date and in a different section)

The final exams soon came and were finished and when the last day of term came I was more concerned with what I was going to be doing next to be thinking that this would was going to be the last day I saw a lot of these people I had been at school with for the last five years. Maybe it was also the fact that out of all these people I had never really been friendly with more than a handful.

The summer soon past and I can remember that Jason Killener and I cycled down to the school where we met up with David, Andrew and Nathan to get our results. Of course there were surprises my results were more or less what I would have expected, I was surprised with both Jason and Nathan’s results as they did not do as well as I would have expected, Jason was okay about it as he already knew what he wanted to do and was not going to be going back to school for the sixth form. Nathan on the other hand seemed disappointed so Nathan, Andrew and I went to see what options were available to us and it was when speaking to the head of the sixth form, Mr Holt that I knew I wanted to stay on in school, if only to buy me some more time before having to decide what to do with my life.

And it was as we walked into town (I pushed my bike) Nathan told us that he was not thinking of going back to school. I think it was then that it really hit me that things would never be the same again and so it began, the end of an era and the start of a new one I had always felt that Nathan was the sort of person who helped to keep friends glued together so what would happen next?