“YES, Victoria your school discus throwing record still stands after 39 years!”

Memories of old school days have come flooding in to Joseph Rowntree School in York as it marks 80years since it opened, including one from a student asking if her sporting achievement had been bested.

Adam Harland, the school’s IT, marketing and communications manager, said people have been getting in touch in their droves since an appeal in The Press last month.

“We had a wonderful email from Victoria Ljudevitch-Harrison, who attended the school from 1979-1984,” said Adam.

“She got in touch to ask if her discus record still stood and we were able to confirm that her record from 1983 when she was in Year 10 of 25.24m still stands! A record that has stood for 39 years.”

The school is celebrating with a series of events in the summer term, all leading to an open afternoon and official celebration on Thursday, July 7, 80 years to the day since the official opening by politician Rab Butler in 1942.

The afternoon will include a tree planting ceremony, music performances, a fun run organised by the student leadership team and the opportunity to visit areas of the school.

The event is open to everyone in the local community to attend.

Please contact the school on its email address, contact@josephrowntree.york.sch.uk sending any comments, memories, old photos etc, and their Media team will be collating all of this to be displayed on the open afternoon, as well as on our website.

Here are a few of the other submissions the school has had so far:

Wendy Birch: I wonder how many people remember the dental clinic which was in the school. I worked as a dental nurse for 8 years in this clinic for the north riding of Yorkshire as it was then from 1959 .We had a waiting room and a surgery. We treated children from Jo Rowntree and also brought in children from several primary schools for treatment including general anaesthetic sessions. Mr Duckworth was head master and the school secretary was Mrs Southgate

John & Elaine Webber who met at the school: We are proud of our time at JRS and have fond memories of the staff there at the time. I was a pupil from 1956 to 1960 and had only 1 year with Mr Rex as Geography teacher before he moved on. In the second year I was lucky enough to go on the school trip to Switzerland, largely organised I believe by Mr Godfrey the Science Teacher, staying a few days in Trient and then Salvan as well as the whole class trip for a week to Barmoor near Hutton-le-Hole, all very enjoyable. The following year I returned to Salvan with the school trip once again. This turned out to be a particularly significant trip.

The journey to and from Salvan was much more difficult that it would be today. We had a very early start from York station by train to Kings Cross, a tube trip to Victoria station and then on to the Boat Train to Folkestone. Naturally the channel was rough so many of the party were seasick. After arriving in Calais we were straight on to our train to Basel and we would not arrive there until 4 am next day. After breakfast in the cafe there, they were open at that time, we were back on a train to Martigny and a coach to Salvan. The return journey was just the reverse but timing was different. The Channel Ferry was delayed as it was even rougher than the outward journey but the Boat Train had to wait for the ferry. Consequently we were late getting to Victoria. Even with a mad dash across London we missed our connection at Kings Cross for York and our reserved coach also we lost some of the party along with a teacher as they took the wrong passage in the underground at Kings Cross and ended up in St Pancras station. An easy mistake to make even today. We were shepherded onto the next train for York to find seats where we could and four of us sat at a table. I was sat with three girls, two of whom I barely knew their names. As luck would have it the father of one of those girls also joined that train. Realising the party was on board he sought out his daughter and having found her bought us all some food and drink which was much appreciated. That is how I became aware of Elaine Willis. Although we travelled on the same school bus every day, me from Osbaldwick and Elaine from Burnholme. Although I knew her name she was just another girl from the junior year.

One of the features of JRS at that time were the Friday evening and impromptu wet lunchtime dances organised mostly by the Music Teacher Jack Glasby. Following our meeting on the train I gradually spent more of these dances in the group which included Elaine. By the time we left the school to go to York Tech College we were, I suppose, an item. We are pleased to say we still are. Yes we have more than education to thank our time at JRS for. Under the leadership of Headmaster Arthur Duckworth it was a happy place to be for most students and Elaine and I were pleased when the fearsome, and friendly, maths teacher Mr Fredrick Oswald Smith accepted the invitation to our wedding in 1967. We are still thankful for the many mental arithmatic exercises he put us through including extended times tables.

Lesley Simons (nee Lee): I attended Joseph Rowntree Secondary Modern School from 1965-1970 after leaving Ralph Butterfield Primary School in Haxby.

I have many happy memories of the school and in hindsight realise how lucky we were to have the opportunities given to us. I was in Severus (Green) and was the House Captain at one point.

I believe we were the first year to be taught a foreign language - French. For some reason I just took to it and it became my best subject. We were taught by Professor Eric Hawkins who was wonderful. He took us to the Language Lab at York University every week. We also did 2 exchange trips to Amiens and Dijon. The first was for 6 weeks when we were only 12 – quite an adventure in those days. It was certainly the best way to learn the language. In later years in my job as a Chartered Librarian I came across a number of language books he had written.

From left to right – me, Lesley Lee, Mandy (?), Teaching Assistant, Barbara Richardson (who was Deputy Head Girl) Sally Day (the only school friend I am still in touch with), Kathryn Johnson.

Photo 2 shows us in class with our French exchange students – I’m next to the teachers notebook on the right and to my left is my exchange student Elizabeth with long blonde hair and glasses.

I also went on a skiing trip to Mustair – again think we were only about 12/13 and loved that too. We were allowed to take £5 with us but even that was quite a lot for our parents. We went on Geography trips to Staithes and Runswick Bay

I was always very shy at school and blushed easily so was surprised when I was chosen to be Head Girl. I had to read out the announcements on stage each morning at assembly and dreaded it. There used to be a big board in the entrance which listed the Head Boys and Girls so presume my name appeared at some point.

When we came to do exams, CSE’s had just been brought in so someone had the “good” idea we would take most subjects in both CSE and O Level. It meant a lot of exams but was glad in the end as Maths was never my strong point but I managed to get Grade 1 CSE which was classed as an O level equivalent.

Helen Cooper and myself, I believe, were the first 2 pupils to get O Level Grade 1 English Language – don’t know how.

I also have vivid memories of the smells- there were long glass windows and being so close to Rowntrees Chocolate factory got the smell of polo mints and melted chocolate. At times, depending on the wind, there was a rather unpleasant smell which I believe came from a local abattoir.

My only disappointment is that those of us who wanted to do A levels had to go elsewhere and I went to Mill Mount Girls Grammar School. I hated it as the method of teaching was totally different. I passed my A levels – just – and do believe had I been able to stay on at Joseph Rowntree I would have done better – sadly I think it was only the year after I left it became a Comprehensive. French had always been my best subject and hoped to do something with Languages but after all we did with Prof Hawkins we just recited verbs and had to know the language rules which wasn’t how we had learnt it.

Also some of the girls (not all) made you feel like second class citizens as you had only been to a Secondary Modern, they also asked how we managed to work with boys around!!.

Joseph Rowntree did me and my sister proud, I am so glad I went there – she became a Solicitor and a partner in a York firm and I became a Chartered Librarian and in my final 10 years at work Managed the Cheshire Schools Library Service covering 4 authorities. I wasn’t particularly academic (like my sister) and hated exams but it shows that with support if you try your best you can achieve what you want. This was something I tried to get across to pupils when I was a School Librarian at a large High School in Cheshire.

Mr Duckworth was the Head Teacher and looking back I think most of the teachers at the time were quite young and they were there to help you in any way they could.

The art teacher Derek Eyland called me Minnehaha, from Hiawatha, as I had long dark hair I wore in plaits. My mind plays tricks but I think my Maths teacher was Mr Beezer, English was Percy Whithorn (who was brilliant at doing all the different voices in the Shakespeare plays).

Bob Mason: I was a student at the school from 2009 to 2016. I am currently completing a PhD in biology at the University of Edinburgh, which has been my dream for a long time. This would not have been possible if not for my experiences at Joseph Rowntree School and the teachers I had that helped mould me into the person I am today. In particular the guidance of Sarah Billinge as my head of Sixth Form and biology teacher, the passion of Mr Watkins and Mr Hanlon in psychology and history respectively, and the motivation from Mr Hornsby and Mr Hatter in maths were all key in developing my skills, interests and drive. They and many more associated with the school have taught me many academic and life lessons I still remember to this day. These positive influences and shoves in the right direction have all played a part in me achieving success in my dream job, and everyone at the school deserves to be remembered as such. What made my time at the school great was the people who worked there.

Mark Hall: I attended from 1979 to 1986 staying on in the 6th Form to do A levels before going university. The quality of teaching was excellent, I was fortunate to have a number of outstanding teachers who were able inspire me to develop an interest in a number of subjects, German, Biology, Chemistry, History, English Literature etc.

I went on to study German / International Business at university and I’ve been living in Germany for the last 30 years.

The School was also very encouraging when it came to developing musical talent, and I was encouraged to play the cello during my time there.

I look back at my time at Jo Ro with very fond memories, and I’m still in regular contact with old school friends.

All the best for your 80th Anniversary and thank you for providing me with an excellent education!

• Jill Ross: As part of the school 80th anniversary, my mother (age 80 years) would like to share some memories. She has written a poem based on her nickname at the time of ‘Gabby‘ Dewhirst (and apparently frequently received 100 lines ‘I must not talk in class’)

Her name at the time was Valerie Dewhirst (now Valerie Ross) and she was a pupil from September 1953 through to Easter 1957 in the A Form. She left age 15 to go to York Tech College to learn short hand typing.

The photos are from the Joseph Rowntree school holiday in 1955 to Barmoor House in Hutton le Hole, North Yorkshire.

The photo in her school uniform was the school blouse and skirt which she made in Miss Turner’s needlework class in her 2nd year (apparently she made an apron in the first year).

She tells the story when she managed to smash all the crockery in the staff room when she was on staff teas duty in her 3rd year. She also left the matches near the hobs and nearly started a fire in the cookery room as Miss Wagott (cookery teacher) shouted what was the smell of burning….!

I think she was somewhat of a pupil!