Which grade was the most important for you to receive a passing mark in? Most people would say high school. Of course passing university courses is also important for students. In my case, it was grade eight.

When I returned to the public school system after six miserable years in a school for the blind, I felt afraid of failing. It would be justification enough for the administration of the Alberta education system to ship me back to British Columbia for another year of loneliness and frustration.

I certainly had my work cut out for me. Jericho Hill School’s curriculum was a year behind Alberta’s public school system. Consequently, I had to cram two years of school into one. Most of my grades were mediocre but at least I managed to get a passing grade.

Some people might wonder why I was worried since schools adopted the practice of passing even students with failing grades. I worried that some bureaucrat would look at my failing grades and decide I couldn’t make it in a school with sighted children. I never wanted to go back to that terrible blind school ever again.

Summer holidays felt especially joyful to me in 1971. Though I still had to prove myself in the next few years, at least I managed to get through grade eight. I also knew what to expect in September. The previous year, I hadn’t a clue how to ride a bus to school or even how to catch one. Nobody taught me about bus routes and that I could phone the bus company to get the proper information. Everything was done for us blind and partially-sighted students at Jericho. Additionally, we weren’t taught any skills for getting around in the city.

I wrote about the difficulties I faced when I was reintegrated into public school in Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School. More information about it is on the Bruce Atchison’s books page.

I also wrote about the difficulties my poor vision caused me in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Check out this amazing story of God’s gracious providence at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.


Author: bruce Atchison - author

I'm a legally-blind freelance writer as well as the author of three memoirs and scores of articles. Contact me for details.


  1. I changed schools a couple times because of family moves, and really tried harder for the first few months after the changes. Probably because I wanted to impress my new friends and teachers. I ended up dropping out of high school my senior year. Not because I wasn’t smart enough, but because I lost my drive and purpose. I searched for it for the next few decades, and never really found it, until that is, when I lost my vision. I still haven’t found it really, but I have again found purpose for continued learning. Thanks for the inspiration Bruce. You have made great strides in your personal journey. Hats off. dp

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