This is the school I went to in Montreal from Grade 3 to Grade 6. It was totally in French. It was called “École Marguerite Bourgeois” but we all called it “Margy-Boogy”for short.
My teacher in Grade 3 was a miserable nun…this is where I learned my Catholic Guilt (but that’s a whole other story).
Half of Margy Boogy’s population were Special Ed kids, who stayed in one side of the school. Us regular students occupied the other side.
The Special Ed kids were referred to as “Mentals” and you definitely didn’t want to be caught alone on the wrong side. There was a definite border: the “Mental Side” began once you crossed threshold and entered into the older wing of the school.
And the Mentals were terrifying. They roamed around the schoolyard in groups. At recess or at lunch, you had to make sure you stayed away from their territory, or you might get beat up.
Sometimes they would zero in on a kid and pick on him at random. You never know when it might be you, or your friends. You might just get shoved around and bullied, or you might get a black eye. This was a constant threat you learned to live with.
The teachers had no control. I remember seeing a small kid lying on the ground screaming in terror while two bigger Mentals beat him up, right in front of two teachers. I don’t’ know what was worse…watching the kid get beat up, or the fact that the teachers just stood there watching and did nothing.
Another time, I saw one of these kids (maybe 10 years old) ask a teacher for some cigarettes, who gave them to him. I couldn’t believe it…I thought adults were supposed to be responsible. It’s like these teachers had given up and couldn’t be bothered any more.
Even in our part side of the school, the teachers had no control. Our English teacher was having a hard time handling one of the bigger kids (who was borderline Special Ed himself). He was disrupting the class for the nth time and she lost it. I remember her grabbing him by the arm, red-faced and screaming, with tears screaming down her face. And the kid just stood there laughing in her face.
Soon after that, she was replaced and never came back.
Some of the male teachers had a better handle on things, if you want to call it that. They came up with creative ways to torture the kids without actually having to touch them.
Like making a bad kid face a wall, stand a few feet away form it, and lean into it, with their forehead smooshed up against it. The kid had to stand there with his hands behind his back, so that his forehead took all his body’s weight and he squirmed and moaned until he could take no more. Meanwhile the teacher just sat at his desk like a prick and kept scolding the kid, while the rest of us had to watch.
The same type of crap happened on the bus: our bus driver used to lose his temper all the time. To be fair, though, I could hardly blame him because some of these kids were BAD.
Like one little shit, who was so disruptive that one day, the bus driver pulled over and stopped so that he could literally kick the kid off the bus. Of course, the kid thought this was a game and he ran up and down the aisle, jumping over seats, dodging the red-face bus-driver who couldn’t catch him. Poor man, I though he was gong to blow a gasket.
Which he actually did, one day. After months of dealing with such demon-spawn, one day the bus driver stopped the bus and lay back in his seat, all pale-looking and tired. We were stuck there for an hour until one of the older kids Grade 6 kids found an adult to got help.
It turns out the bus driver was having a heart attack, right then and there, in the bus. Eventually somebody else came by and drove us home.
As for our bus driver, he was replaced, and never came back.
I was 8 at the time. This is what I learned school was like.
People often say they have fond memories of their school days, but to be honest, I don’t.
In fact, to this day, I still have anxiety dreams about Margy-Boogy, even though this all happened 40 years ago.
Even seeing this Google Map photo gives me the creeps.