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Former teachers and pupils take trip down memory lane

FORMER pupils and teachers at Springfarm Primary , now known as Round Tower PS, have been sharing their memories of their days in the classroom - four decades after the school first opened.

To mark this year’s milestone, a special anniversary reunion is set to take place at Ellie May’s in Dunadry on September 1 - exactly 40 years to the day after the school first opened.

And this week the Antrim Guardian shares some of the anecdotes and reminiscences recorded.

The first principal was Ronnie Small who left after only four terms.

He was succeeded by the first vice principal Joan Brewster, in January 1980.

Mrs Brewster retired to Cyprus with her husband, Trevor, who had been the vice principal at Parkhall High School, and vice principal Ollie Townsend stepped into the role of principal for a year, until December 1989, when Philip Scott was appointed to take charge of the school.

Mr Scott was head teacher for more than 20 years and oversaw the transformation of Springfarm Primary School to Round Tower Integrated Primary School in 2003.

This coincided with the School’s 25th Anniversary when the present and former staff had an Anniversary Dinner at Masserene Golf Club.

As fas as pupils’ memories go, Lisa Prenter Ives remembers guitar with Mr Whyte, the Dusty Bin litter picking project and school plays at Christmas.

Julieanne Caie recalls a story told in her house ‘for 40 years’.

“My sister Lisa Sexton and I started Springfarm the September of its opening - me into Miss McBrien (later Mrs Browne) in P1, Lisa into reception but it is Mr Conn’s class I remember (just before we moved to England).

“As you all know, Springfarm Primary School was pretty much an integrated school even then but around the age of 7/8 a priest was coming in to give lessons for those about to take their Holy Communion.

“Mr Conn told the class that those needing to go to classes should leave for their lessons with the priest.

“I innocently put my hand up and told him I didn’t know if I should go as I wasn’t sure if I was Catholic or not.

“Even now this causes a lot of laughter in our house.”

Julianne’s sister Lisa Sexton, now a teacher, adds: “I frequently tell my pupils about the great experiences I had at Springfarm in general but particularly with Mrs McCart as my P1 teacher and how she inspired me to be a teacher of infants.

“I then went on to be a head teacher of my own primary, now going into my 14th year as a head and 20th year as a teacher - one of the youngest Heads in my county when I started.

“It certainly built my foundations of integration in education which certainly impacts how I teach and lead my school today.

Kari Furgrove remembers when Miss Kerr (Mrs Allen) was getting married.

“They ran her around the playground on one of the dinner hall trolleys covered in balloons, toilet roll and whatever else they could find.

Kari continues: “Another favourite was when I was the only person to win a Ten Step Athletics Award and Mr Conn and a few of us met Barry McGuigan and Willie Anderson in Maysfield Leisure Centre. I think that photo of Barry McGuigan and me was pride of place in the reception of the school for a very long time.”

AJ Gibson recalls Santa arriving in a helicopter, landing on the playground ‘and all our wee faces pressed up against the windows watching’.

“One year I remember Mrs Brewster's Marilyn Monroe moment going across the playground to the helicopter!”

And as for some of the school’s former teachers?

Mrs Dalton remembers Prize Days fondly.

“All of us in our Sunday Best, the themed walls in the Assembly Hall, the silver ware, Mr Conn’s handwritten certificates, the orchestra, the school choir, the annual report, a Guest Speaker, the excitement of the best class award and then the tea afterwards in china cups with meringues and scones with jam and cream!

“Special days when you smiled at the children and remembered why you had chosen teaching and celebrated belonging to such a great team.

“And Mrs Allen making the annual collection of work for the Antrim Show and having to take it to that upstairs room on Thursday night and hang it up for the judging on Friday.

“Then late afternoon on the Saturday, it all had to come down again and be packed in the car.

“And those crazy P1 induction days when we had those film strips which we rarely got the right way up and had to hold the projector upside down!”

Mrs Allen says: “I remember we took the children to the zoo.

“We were always counting and re-counting the children to make sure they were all there.

“That day we came back to school with the children but minus the classroom assistants!

“I remember in the staff room Mrs Beckett sitting down in the space between two chairs.

“Some of the teachers would occasionally talk in the corridor and we used to run when we heard our Principal coming and we got stuck in the double doors.”

And Mr Conn said: “Ian Gough, another primary school teacher in the Antrim area, had a daughter in my class and for badness he would send her dinner money into school in pennies.

“I remember the excitement of bats flying around the classroom.

“And once I got an interesting letter from a parent which I have kept to this day.

“Dear Mr Conn, William has forgotten (I changed the name).”

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