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Article from the "Otago Witness" about the Alexandra District High School Celebrations

This article is from the Otago Witness of 16 March 1926, describing the celebrations that took place over several days for the Jubilee Celebrations. This article is in addition to the main article featured elsewhere in the same newspaper. Both Bethia Breingans and William Bringans are mentioned (with the name spelled as Brignans).

March 13. - Alexandra District High School Celebrations. - These notes are written with the object of supplementing the official report that appears elsewhere in this issue of the Witness.

The key-note of the whole gathering was intense enthusiasm that seemed to permeate the whole proceedings - an enthusiasm that went a long way to make the various functions connected with the celebrations the most successful that have ever been carried out in the history of Alexandra. Every one, visitors and townsfolk, declared that they had enjoyed, themselves to the utmost. Great praise is due to the energetic committee that had put in so much hard work in order to fittingly celebrate the jubilee, The outside of the school was gaily decorated with flags suspended in lines from main school to infant room. Over the gateway was erected an arch with "Welcome" in large letters, while from the flagpole flew the Union Jack with the New Zealand Ensign immediately below it. Each classroom was also decorated, and here there appeared to be great friendly rivalry for each standard tried to make its room look the best. Bunches of flowers, garlands of flowers, streamers, and flags all added to make the rooms bright and gay, and changed them from sombre schoolrooms into enchanted bowers of fairyland. By half-past one on Monday most of the visitors had arrived and were assembled in the rector's room, which is the oldest room of the school, "That's where I used to sit," "There's my corner," "What have they done with the old clock?" "I wonder it my Initials are still on that desk" "how strangely familiar the old room seems," and so on was heard on all sides from the band of happy men and women who became once more boys and girls of long ago.

After a few words of welcome from the president of the Reunion Committee, Mr Charles Weaver, and from the chairman of' the school committed, Mr Wm. Brignans, the rector briefly outlined the day's programme, and requested each ex-pupil to hand in his, or her name papers previously supplied. They were then invited to inspect the school and see the children at work. First the Technical School was invaded, where pupils were engaged at their various tasks. The girls In the cookery room, looking smart in their caps and aprons, were busily engaged in making some of the good things that the visitors were to sample a little later on. In the woodwork room boys were hard at it hammering, sawing, planing, chiselling, all at work with a preoccupied air as if the whole fabrication of the celebrations depended on their industry and assiduity. No thought of "down tools" here, no vexed questions between employer and employee, no threat of strike except the strikes the wood received from these zealous carpenters and builders. In the science room pupils of the high school were learnedly discoursing to the ex-pupils what a vacuum is, how plants obtain their nourishment, etc., etc., and were illustrating their discourses by various scientific experiments. Here was one lad showing wonders of the microscopic world by means of a powerful microscope; here another was weighing infinitesimally small objects by means of a delicate balance; here another was showing air pressure by means of an air pump, while others were showing how oxygen, hydrogen. C.O2 hydrochloric gas were formed. Boys of the primary and secondary departments were busy with spade and rake and hoe outside in the school garden and were hard at it as if their very existence depended on it, and never stopped a moment to rest, at least while visitors or teachers were near by. Then over the Infant room trooped the ex-pupils, and didn't the wee tots "do themselves proud!" Johnny was busy making plasticine models of leaves and flowers and other strange things. Tommy was doing chalk drawing on the blackboards; Mary was in her element paper-folding. Some were sewing, stick laying, all were industrious, bright, happy, and proud to show their ma's and pa's and uncles and aunts what clever little people they were. Then they sang their school songs, and wished they could have a jubilee every day. One little mite called the reunion the "art union!" So doth the present influence of the raffle influence us all! Visitors wandered through, the various standard rooms, where again they found the pupils busy doing their best to do their bit towards the celebrations. Truly it was a day of rejoicing; but the most joyous time, from the present-day pupils' point of view was at the flag saluting ceremony, when the chairman of the school committee announced a half-holiday for the next day and a whole one for the day following that The mighty shout that rent the welkin showed how truly they appreciated this glorious piece of good news.

After everybody had been photographed, ex-pupils again assembled in their old schoolroom to the "roll call." Then the fun was fast and furious. The pleasant banter that went on between Mr F. S. Aldred, the oldest head master present, and the rector, Mr W. H. Mechaelis, contributed not a little to the mirth of the gathering. "By Jove, It's a regular pantomime," one ex-pupil was heard afterwards to remark. "Those two fellows ought to go on the vaudeville!" Votes of thanks, accompanied with the most enthusiastic singing of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow were passed to Mr Weaver (president lent of the jubilee celebrations), Mr P. Weaver (oldest ex-pupil present), Mr Hillhouse (ex-pupil who came from the furthest distance to be present, right from Fremantle WA:), Mr Aldred (ex headmaster), Mrs Dewar (nee Miss Bertha Brignans, mistress in Mr Aldred's time, who, as a resident of Alexandra, was largely responsible for the success of the celebrations), and to Mr Mechaelis (present-day rector). Then an adjournment was made to the Technical School, where afternoon tea was served by the senior girls. Here a happy and informal hour was spent by the ex-pupils as they chatted one with the other and discussed old times at the school, old pranks they played, renewed old acquaintances, became boys and girls again, and took good care to discuss fully the good things before them, with which the tables were laden.

'Twas well after five by now, but none minded in the least for having been "kept in" so late. One and all now eagerly looked forward towards the evening's entertainment that was to be held in the town hail, which had previously been decorated by the younger local ex-pupils, who had enthusiastically undertaken their share towards making a success of the celebrations. At this function a number of speeches of a reminiscent nature were delivered by quite a number of ex-pupils. Perhaps the most marvellous one of the lot was that delivered by Mr T. Beck, who displayed an astonishingly accurate memory, and who made present-day teachers wish he were a little boy again and a member of the present roll of pupils. What a fine specimen he would have been to, trot out on examination day, when the ogre of the school, the inspector, makes his yearly visit. The ovation that Mr Aldred received must have made him a proud and happy man. Long may he be spared to enjoy the memory of his triumph. Mr Hillhouse made a most happy speech, and rounded it off by jingling on the old apology of a hall piano a piece of ragtime that he seemed to enjoy fully as much as his appreciative listeners did. A short but happy speech by the rector caused the whole assembly to roar with delight. The following ladies and gentlemen contributed to the musical part of the programme: Mrs Brown (nee Aldred), Mrs Iversen, Mrs Appleton, Mrs Aldred and Mrs McGeorge nee Aldred (duet), Mr C Weaver and Mr Hillhouse. By the time the happy band of ex-pupils were ready for supper it was near midnight. The way again those ex-pupils demolished the good things spread out for them made one think they had utterly forgotten of their previous attack at afternoon tea in the Technical School. Then they had a dance, and grey-headed ex-pupils mixed with later-day ex-pupils and fox-trotted and one-stepped, and two-stepped, and side-stepped, and now and then false-stepped, to their heart's content. They were all young once more, and enjoyed themselves to the utmost.

The picnic on the Tuesday afternoon in the recreation grounds was another joyous time. It was the present-day pupils' part, of it, but the ex-pupils appeared to enjoy it equally as well as they did. There were races to suit them all, and some mighty big fields were witnessed. Much amusement was caused by the motor tyre races. -Where on earth did the boys obtain those motor tyres? They seemed to be legion. One wondered if any motor cars that day had to trundle home on three wheels. Talk about speeding, collisions, reckless driving, those motor tyre races were epics on that score. But the feature of the sports was a football match in the blazing sun between ex-pupils and present pupils. Great big burly grey-headed men stood up against the redoubtable school- boys. - It was wonderful to see a diminutive schoolboy throw his ounces or weight into a scrum and endeavour to push as if he meant it. It was the flea against the elephant. It was grand to see the small boy endeavour to collar low his giant opponent, and sometimes bring him down while the spectators laughed themselves hoarse at the sight. Who won? Let that rest in oblivion. Another outstanding event was a race of 35 yards between an ex-pupil and a present-day pupil who generously gave his opponent five yards start. Again, who won? Echo answers, "Who?"

The celebrations were brought to a conclusion on the Tuesday evening with a ball in the town hall, which was crowded to the door. Mr F. S. Aldred and Mrs Dewar, oldest ex-teachers present, led off in the grand march. Previous to this, a pleasing little ceremony took place when Mr C. Weaver presented Mrs Dewar with beautiful bouquet and Mr Aldred with a buttonhole. Mr Aldred thanked those assembled, on behalf of Mrs Dewar and himself, for their kindly act of appreciation. On Friday morning Mr Aldred paid an informal visit to the Alexandra District High School the scene of his early-labours for the cause of education. He visited each of the room and in each case delivered bright and interesting addresses to the pupils. A very pleasing part of this function was his shaking hands with each scholar whose father or mother he had taught in bygone days [and in] one or two cases he had actually taught [their] grandparents. Hearty cheers were g[iven to] their visitor, who expressed his keen [ ] at being present at the school and s[ ] pupils once more at their tasks.

Linked toBethia Bringans; William Bringans

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