Surprise at Peterborough school as library book returned more than 30 years overdue

A Peterborough school was surprised to have a book returned to its library this week, more than 30 years after it was borrowed.

Monday, 19th April 2021, 5:03 am
The note book and note send to St John Fisher this week.

The book, titled Manners Make a Difference, arrived at St John Fisher Catholic High School on Monday (April 12) with an accompanying note which read “Sorry! Just 32 years overdue! Call it Catholic guilt.”

It is not known who returned the book as they did not leave their name and it was checked out on 27 February 1989 with a key card system that is no longer in existence at the school.

The envelope was first opened by the school’s chief of administration, Rosie Roe, who was a student at the school herself in 1989.

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Chief of Administration Rosie Roe and SENCO Lead Jo Sennett with the book in the school's study centre.

She said: “It was a real surprise when I opened it and saw what was inside, I thought it’s a real shame they didn’t leave a name because I was at the school at that time and wonder if I know them.”

The book itself was published in 1954 by The John C.Winston Company and was licensed for distribution by the Roman Catholic Church by John P.Treacy, who served at the Bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin from 1948 to 1964.

It gives advice on how to show good manners in every aspect of life, be it at school, church, when dressing and grooming and in public places amongst others.

It will not be going back onto the shelves, however, given the many outdated attitudes and phrases of the period it contains.

Inside the school's study centre.

Instead, it will sit on display in the school’s study centre, which has changed a lot since the book was taken out 32 years ago.

The school has been educating students on the site in Park Lane since 1959 but was rebuilt completely in 2009, with the new study centre taking its place above the sixth form study area where the old sports hall used to be.

It is now a multi-purpose study area with books, laptops, kindles, which the school have been rolling out during the pandemic to allow children in the reading club to all follow along the same book without the need to take the paper copies in to be quarantined. It also contains an innovative touchscreen system (ClearTough), similar to a large iPad, that is used in the school’s Hearing Hub for hearing impaired students.

Staff have worked out that approximately £832 would be due in late fees but insist that all is forgiven and that the strong family feeling at the school may be partly responsible for the reason the book was returned.

A photocopied extract from the book on showing good manners at school.

SENCO Lead Jo Sennett said: “We’d never make the book available to loan now but I think it was most likely taken out by a student doing their A-level sociology course. You can see the sun damage of the spine so it has clearly been out on display over the years.

“It’s a great story that they decided to send it back and very appropriate the book is about manners. Part of the reason could be the family atmosphere we create here.

“So many children pass through schools, learn a syllabus, pass their courses and leave but here we prepare our students for life and adulthood. We’ve got children and grandchildren of ex-students here at the moment and see a large number of cohorts return as staff.

“You get the case where a student leaves and six years later they turn up as the maths teacher and you think, that’s not right I remember you as a student. Very regularly I find myself walking through town and bumping into people calling me Miss.

“I would encourage any former students who get in touch and say hello again to do so and when the time is right, we can arrange something.”

Rosie, who herself returned to the school after her tims as a student, added: “The building has changed so much between my times here but the thing that stands out for me is the family aspect and how lovely it is a place to work.

“There is an online group of old St John Fisher students where so many of us are still in touch and I know several people who met at the school are now married.”