What I Learned In High School

Cover Image - What I learned in High SchoolToday I am writing with my group of ‘Blog With Pip’ online friends and we are all writing on the same topic: What I Learned In High School. Dani is leading the gang with her post, which you can read at ‘Eat My Street‘. Feel free to join the conversation and add your comments at the bottom or have a read of some other bloggers who may share links to the same post they’ve written (in the comments).

Finishing High School is a big deal and our experience at school can shape who we become. When I reflect on what I learned at school, I can honestly say that most of what I know now, I learnt after I left school.

Don’t get me wrong – I had an excellent education but if I’m honest … history and english and maths, they don’t stand out.

What really stands out for me, is what I learnt about how it feels to be part of something. I learnt what it really means to truly belong to a community; and how important that is. I left school 25 years ago and for various reason have found myself back in the school grounds on various occasions over the years (mostly for weddings, but also reunions and the odd funeral).

But even 25 years after finishing my formal education at the school, when I enter those grounds I walk up that grand and winding driveway, through those glorious gardens and I STILL feel like I own ‘the joint’ – just like I did when I was 17.


Me and my posse – owning ‘the joint’.

That’s because it was a safe place; we all felt so strongly part of it, we believed we WERE it! I think we all believed it did not exist beyond us! So when I think about my niece and her friends, who are just about to finish their year 12 exams and probably can’t wait to get out of there, I say this: your school community is a gift.

You’ll go off into the world and meet some incredible, fascinating, boring, nasty, beautiful hell-raising, world-changing people, who will push you and pull you and tilt you smash you and love you, and ultimately shape you in to the adult that you will become. But none more than the ones you love now.

It’s worth keeping those people close, in your heart. You will move away, you must move away (because it’s a little bit weird to hang out at school after you’ve left), but you’ll need to grow; and you won’t if you’re just hangin’ with the same posse. But to know that you will return to those people in some form, is heartening. It is the history that binds. 💞

Sometimes the history is not enough, and that’s ok too. But usually you return to these people because they know the truth about you. They saw your (messy) bedroom growing up. They knew your parents, you slept at their houses, borrowed their bathers (and maybe their knickers), shared an Alpine Light (or two). They’ve seen the ups and the downs.

Then 25 years later, when you’re all grown up, they’ve seen your children arrive, they’ve seen your parents depart, they’ve seen your marriage and your divorce – they’ve seen you win and lose. And you’ve seen them to.

Next weekend I am attending a lunch; The Small Pleasures lunch. It’s a charity event set up to support the alumni of our school. It’s for when things get hard – really hard.  Small Pleasures steps in and makes life just a little bit less hard, for some in a big way, some just for a minute.


Some of the things it does might be to pay the bill for some house cleaning if your husband passes away, or organise a family weekend away if a loved one is ill and you all need to escape for a minute, or sends you to a day spa in between your chemo treatments. So yes, I mean it when I say really hard, not just a little bit hard.

This comes from my school community. So we all get together for a lovely lunch and champagne and raffles and gossip and giggles, but ultimately it’s all about maintaining the links to our community. The community that we made through school and managed to maintain through the hangovers, heartbreaks, births, deaths, divorces…

So at school I learnt that even if your community consists only of two of you – work at keeping it. If it is much wider than two, work at keeping it. As I said earlier, it is the history that binds, and after all, they do know the truth about you. 

 What about you? What did you learn at High School?


  1. says

    Wow, it sounds as though you came from the most wonderful school community, and that the alumni continues to come through. I went to 4 high schools, 3 of them in my final 2 years, due to my family moving, and apart from the last one, which was wonderful, they were incredibly unsupportive, or so it felt to me. I was happy to see my first high school demolished and ceaase to be a few years ago, though I do still have some really great friends from that time.
    Thanks for your thoughts, it was great reading them/

    • collette says

      I feel very lucky as I realise that it’s not like that for everyone. At least you finished on a high note and made some nice friends to see you through your adulthood. I do think that long-term friends are a special kind of friend. Thanks for reading. x

    • collette says

      I’m not sure if my mother would have agreed with you, I was the fifth of five girls and I think they’d had their fill of teenage girls by the time I got to it! Thanks for reading. 💖

  2. says

    I love the idea of the Small Pleasures lunch. At my daughter’s school (my old one too!) we have family support for current members of the school community but I love the idea of supporting old girls as well. It’s wonderful when you luck into attending to a school that is welcoming and supportive. I feel my experiences were very similar to yours.

    • collette says

      Yes, and it really is just a case of good luck. But knowing what to look for now, I will search for the same for my own children. I feel we have found it with their primary school, but I don’t think it’s quite as enduring as high school. I certainly feel lucky to be part of it. Thanks for reading. x

  3. Tremaine says

    My daughter is part of that beautiful school community you talk about. She too will proudly say “one heart” I went to a good school but there was no community spirit and as a result my sense of belonging to something never developed. I glad my babies will have that. Thanks Sr Barat xx

  4. Carolyn says

    Gorgeous read Colette, and I’ve shared it with my close school friends, history is everything! Great to see you last weekend x

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