From bookish child to bookish adult—But did my peers follow the path they were on at age nine?

May 12, 2021 | 10 comments |

I’ve never been to a school reunion, am only still in contact with one high school friend and, until recently, my school days were firmly in my rear-view mirror.

However, several weeks ago when going through an album of school mementos, I found old report cards and a yearbook from when I was nine.

And as I sat on my bedroom floor, over a thousand miles away from the small school I attended from Kindergarten (Reception) to Grade Four, memories came flooding back of teachers, people and classrooms long forgotten.

At nine and in Fourth Grade, the yearbook entry described me as being “very interested in reading—a real bookworm”—something that could as easily be said about me now as then.

As a curious writer, I wondered if any of my long-ago classmates were similar as adults to who they were back then. Thanks to Google, more than half of those twenty-six students were easy to find.

The boy who liked “operating his train set” and building models is today an urban transportation planner. The sports fan’s Twitter bio references favourite teams, although he now mentions being a season-ticket holder. And the math whizz is a senior executive in accounting and finance.

The girl who wanted to be a swimming champion didn’t realize that dream but nevertheless competed at a high level. And the classmate whose yearbook entry said he “likes the outdoors” is now a small-business owner who promotes that same ethos on his company’s website.

The wonderful librarian who introduced me to still-favourite books like The Witch of Blackbird Pond was quoted as saying that “authors are budding in all the classrooms.”

While at the time that might have been wishful thinking, it’s turned out to be surprisingly apt.

Today, myself included, there are three published authors from my Grade Four class alone, spanning fiction and non-fiction, as well as scripts for screen and stage and articles for national and international magazines.

And while I’ve come a long way from that nine-year-old girl, and the school I once attended has been closed for many years, it was there that I consciously became a storyteller with a teacher noting in my report card:

“She is learning to spell the words she needs to express her ideas in written form… [and her] stories are improving steadily as she makes good use of sentence structure and descriptive wording.”

As for mathematics?

That same report said I “seem[ed] to have difficulty when something different or unusual is presented—geometry, estimation, large numbers, etc.”

Although mathematics continues to be a challenge, luckily I married an expert. For almost twenty-five years, Tech Guy has been “on call” when anything “different or unusual” is presented and I’m grateful, although never more so than this year when English Rose has studied physics, as well as calculus, vectors and advanced functions!


  1. Deb

    Jen – I love this. I have no way of ever knowing about the people I went to school with in the 4th grade at Taipei (Taiwan) American School. But what fun it would be to check them out. I could use “tech guy” as math (and anything associated) is the bane of my existence.

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Deb. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. How interesting that you went to school in Taipei. Living there must have been fascinating. I was surprised how many former classmates I found with only a quick online search…something I couldn’t have imagined all those years ago! You and I are alike with math! I don’t think in a numerical way. 🙂

  2. Lynn Butkus

    Jen, this is a marvelous article! Although I have no idea what happened to my fourth grade classmates (we moved between 5th and 6th grade), I do know that as a school librarian for 45 years, many of my students who came back to visit when they were “all grown up” were pursuing a career near an area about which they once checked out books! Thanks so much for sharing your experience and validating what I always suspected. Children’s interests don’t really change all that much as they mature!

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Lynn. I’m glad my post resonated with you. It’s interesting and wonderful to hear about your experience with former students pursuing careers in line with their childhood passions. I was somewhat surprised by the results of my ‘mini survey’ but fascinated too. I’ve also ‘found’ several people I’d like to reconnect with! 🙂

  3. Rosey Lee

    I don’t know if I’m more impressed with the results of your Google search or with Tech Guy for helping English Rose with physics, calculus, vectors and advanced functions! 🙂

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Rosey. Your comment made me (and Tech Guy!) smile. From my perspective, the math help he gives to English Rose is much more impressive than my Google searches! 🙂

      • Deb Buxton

        A wonderful post, Jen. It’s so interesting to see where your school mates ended up and how your journey continues to develop. I was outgoing in school and secretary of my senior high school class. I stayed in touch with friends from grade school, college, and grad school over the years and now social media has expanded that group. We’ve had fun reunions over the years. For me, as I age, those connections keep me grounded and remind me of how sweet my younger years were.

        • Jen Gilroy

          Thank you, Deb. I appreciate you reading my post and am glad you enjoyed it. How wonderful that you’re still in contact with so many people from different points in your school life and have been able to have reunions. Social media is great for connecting (and reconnecting) with people and through this post I’ve also ‘found’ several old friends I want to reestablish contact with. I like the idea of how such connections “keep you grounded.” That’s so important and resonates with me too.

  4. Roslyn Schindler

    Jen, I loved this post. Special memories. Two things. I reconnected with my 6th grade class in the Bronx, NY—and the girl who was my best friend—via FB. I learned early on that competency in languages and math are linked. I loved math abs was a tutor of geometry in high school. And I am tri-lingual. Again. Your post was delightful, down to the sleuthing of your former classmates. Roz

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Roslyn. I’m glad you enjoyed this post and appreciate you sharing your experiences. How wonderful that you reconnected with your childhood best friend. I’ve now found several people I hope to reconnect with too. I’m also interested to hear of the link between math and language competency. I struggled with geometry in high school! 🙂


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