Nfld. & Labrador

In 1990, this man had his first day of school on TV. Now it's his daughter's turn

Sophia Tilley found something special when she got up: a TV crew in the living room — just like the one that followed her dad on his first day of school nearly three decades earlier.

Sophia Tilley's big day included a camera crew — just like it did for her dad Chris nearly 3 decades ago

Brushing your teeth before the first day of school is as important now as it was in 1990. Chris and daughter Sophia Tilley, on their first days of school. (CBC Archives/Eddy Kennedy)

It's the first day of school for thousands of kids in this province, but Sophia Tilley found something special when she got up: a TV crew in the living room. 

Twenty-nine years ago, CBC cameras followed a young Chris Tilley on his first day of school, capturing that quintessential experience on film. Now, Tilley and Nicole Barela are sending their five-year-old daughter Sophia off to her first day of school at Beachy Cove Elementary. CBC had to be there.

'As much as I'm sad to see her go to school, that means she's getting older, it's very exciting.' Chris Tilley helps daughter Sophia with her bookbag, (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

It's a moment the family is happy to hang onto.

"As much as I'm sad to see her go to school, that means she's getting older, it's very exciting because she's going to hopefully meet a lot of new friends, and she's going to get a lot of new experiences over the next 13 years," said Chris.

But what those cameras saw today looks very different than it did in 1990.

"Thirty years ago seems like a long time ago, but when you look at the video it looks even longer," said Tilley. "Sitting in the front seat, no booster seat, you know, cameras going right throughout the school. But it's certainly something I watch still on a regular basis, and friends of mine still remind me every day of my Ninja Turtle sheets."

Watch the video below to see the first day of school for Chris and Sophia.

In 1990, this man had his first day of school on TV. Now it's his daughter's turn. 2:20

The Ninja Turtles may have been replaced by Peppa Pig, but in other ways, so much about the first day of school remains the same. There's still a special outfit to put on, a scramble to finish breakfast, a bookbag to pack, and a picture to take. But these days, Sophia's pop, Bob Tilley, can take the picture with his phone.

These days, Sophia's grandfather Bob Tilley can take the a picture of the first day of school with his phone. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

One thing that hasn't changed is that parents still want to send their kids off with a few words of wisdom. Chris says his parents did it for him, and now he's doing the same with Sophia.

"The main things I say: just have fun, try to be respectful of people in your school, and enjoy every day you've got there," he said. "My parents used to say to me, as much as I didn't believe them, that school days are the best days of your lives. And I certainly hope that she enjoys every day of school, because before you know it we'll probably be at her graduation."

And just like her dad, she'll always have the video to look back on how her school journey started.

Sophia Tiley takes her first steps on her school journey, holding her dad's hand. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

About the Author

Zach Goudie is a journalist and video producer with CBC in St. John's, NL.