Little Clive Sullivan sat in the centre of the front row holding up the sign for his primers class of 1937.
This week he will join current and past pupils of Upokongaro School to celebrate 150 years of primary education beside the Whanganui River.
After it first opened in 1870, the school was known as North Makirikiri or the "River Bank" school for a time.
By the time Sullivan began his education, the school was well-established and had a roll of around 130 pupils.
Today, the school has a healthy roll of 128 with a high proportion of Māori students, which is similar to the way things were in Sullivan's time.
Many of today's pupils travel to Upokongaro School by bus as they did in the 1930s, although Sullivan remembers children from the surrounding farms rode horses to school.
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"The horses would be tethered where the carpark is now and one or two would inevitably get loose and wander on to the grounds, but it wasn't a problem.
"I remember a girl from the Kahukura family who rowed across the river in her canoe and she would have to take days off during rough weather."
Sullivan also remembers Mrs Spicer who drove eight or nine children to school in a Ford Model A van.
"We played some good games - skipping, hopscotch and I particularly remember the big wooden tops we would set spinning with woven flax whips - they were great fun."
Always a keen rugby player, Sullivan remembers playing barefoot on the frozen fields during winter.
"Times were still pretty tough after the Great Depression and shoes were a luxury that we only got to wear on Sundays.
"The callouses on our feet were so thick that we couldn't feel the cold and the frost made the ground nice and hard so you could kick some really good goals."
During the summer, there were swimming lessons in the stream behind the school which Sullivan remembers fondly.
The current school pool, which opened in 1952, was dedicated to the memory of former pupils and teachers who lost their lives in both world wars.
By the time the pool was erected, Sullivan was a young teacher and he appears again in the middle front row of a Upokongaro School photo wearing a suit and shiny leather shoes in 1950.
"I went away to teachers' college and my first placement was here at my old school," he said.
"I was 18 and I worked here for a year which was a very good introduction to the profession."
He would go on to teach at other country schools - Ngamatapouri, Marton Junction and schools in the King Country.
In Feilding, he met his future wife and fellow teacher Joan Collis and they would later move to the South Island.
"In 1973, Catholic schools began employing lay teachers for the first time and I taught at a Blenheim school with 450 pupils."
Sullivan went on to become a principal, and as he approached retirement he wanted to return to Whanganui and took a position at St Marcellin School in Tawhero.
In 2018, he and Joan celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary along with five other couples living at Summerset Village in Whanganui East.
He may have hung up his rugby boots but, along with Joan, he has found a passion for music and the two enjoy being members of Whanganui choir The Lyric Singers.
This Saturday , they will join past students, staff and their families to celebrate Upokongaro School's sesquicentennial which begins at 11am.
Proceedings will include displays, speeches, group photographs, the resurrection of the time capsule and a light lunch.
Later there will be a dinner dance with a live band at McNab Domain.
Sunday will begin with a church service at the historic Saint Mary's Church next to the school and events will close with morning tea at the school.
The Wairua riverboat is chartering a cruise to take attendees to the lunch on Saturday, returning to town at 3pm.
Registrations are required for catering purposes and are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or downloading the form from the 150th Celebrations Facebook page.