I Remember Roland Clarke Well

By J. Pinsent

Roland Clarke, always known to me as Mr. Clarke and later referred too as "Pop Clarke", was the Vice Principal and became Principal after the death of Mr. Hunt in 1951. I was in Grade 2. When Roland left the school in the spring of 1958, I was graduating from Grade 9.  My parents had the deepest respect for him and from that, any discipline that he handed out to me was considered as well deserved.  According to them. Not by me. Believe me, I had my fair share of one on one discussions with Mr. Clarke in relation to my conduct. Never any punishment.  Just long chats. Complaints by me, to my parents, were nil because the less they knew the better. Mr. Clarke’s little chats with me would be minor, compared to what I would end up with at home.

But his last year in Gander I remember very well. For some reason, he was given a nickname way back, from the older boys, Nate Dyke, Ray Lush and that group, as “Pop Clarke”. Maybe because he treated us like his own kids. Anyway, this was my first year in High School and was introduced to a new subject, Physics. Taught  by non other than Mr. Clarke himself. A new subject and my first experience with Mr. Clarke as a teacher. He really now became known to us as “Pop Clarke”

I liked this new Physics subject a lot, he knew the subject well and we also found out that he had a bit of a temper when he became angry. Not that he became angry often but there were times when he might have been provoked by the classes conduct. Anyway, the last period on Thursday was Physics. It was one of the shortest classes for the day. Just 30 minutes. Thursday night was Air Cadet night and I had to have my homework completed before going to Air Cadets. Mom's orders. This meant going home directly after school and hitting the books or no cadets.

It was Pop's idea that the best way to teach was to assign homework and he did exactly that. He gave lots of it. If it wasn't completed by the next day, it was detention, plus a little chat. Couldn't go to detention, I had hockey after school on Fridays. I was always the perfect student on hockey days. I made up for it on non hockey days. I had my own special desk in the detention room. But this one Thursday I came up with an idea, by accident, on how to avoid future physics homework on Thursday nights.

Pop was a little late for class this one Thursday afternoon. I guess because of his administration duties. Anyway, when he came into the class, a bunch of us were horsing around and he became upset , to say the least. After a period of greatly defining what he thought of us, he abruptly left the class when the bell rang. Guess what,? He forgot to assign homework.

Well, from then on, we made sure we created a ruckus every Thursday afternoon prior to Physics class. Pop would come in and give us hell for 30 minutes, as usual, leave as soon as the bell rang and wouldn't assign homework. It worked like a charm. No sweat on getting the homework done now with all that Physics stuff out of the way. Never missed Air Cadets once.

The next year, after Roland left, I quit Air Cadets. I really missed the homework challenge. At the reunion, I think the biggest thrill was seeing him again after all those years. It sure was a pleasure having known him although I never missed his little one on one chats.

As much as I like to make fun of an isolated incident Roland, I think you were a very great influence on the successful careers of some very fine graduates from the Gander Amalgamated  School system. Me being one of them.