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In Graydon’s honour

In Graydon’s honour

By Matthew D. Farley | Sun, October 14, 2012 - 12:00 AM

. . . The school [has] contributed massively to the free secondary education effort and [has] produced some of the most distinguished citizens. – Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.

On Friday, October 5, 2012, a major change took place within the environs of Historic Bridgetown And Its Garrison. Thirty-seven years ago, a new secondary school was established on what I am told was “Rudder Pasture”.

Naturally, the school assumed the name of the community in which it was located. Given its location, the school was connected to the historic Garrison area, which dates back to 1650 and was occupied by the British militia and later manned by the local militia.

The school was built on the grounds which housed the married women, popularly known as the married women’s quarters. An historic wall, against which executions were said to be carried out, runs through the compound of the school.

In January 1975, students and staff assembled in Block B of The Garrison huts to mark the beginning of the school. It however was officially opened on September 11, 1975, by the then Minister of Education Erskine Sandiford, now Sir Lloyd Sandiford.

The school is a co-educational institution with a current roll of 942 and has a teaching and non-teaching staff of approximately 100. Ever since then, the school has been delivering quality education to all those students who darken its doors as it seeks to fulfil its motto of Promoting All Aspects Of Our Growth.

For close to four decades this school carved out a niche for itself both in the dense historic community in which it was located and within the broader educational landscape of Barbados.

With its colours of maroon and green, its uniform has a unique identity that is unmistakably outstanding, and in the assessment of many is the most beautiful one among all the secondary schools in Barbados.

But the school is more that its uniform, its motto, symbols and emblems. Over the years and often against great odds, the school, whose main blocks run parallel to the horse stables in Paddock Road, has produced individuals who today are strategically placed in virtually every sector of the national life of Barbados.

It is impossible to visit any Government department or private sector institution and not meet one of the proud products of this great institution. Like Barbados has consistently punched above its size, the Garrison Secondary can be said to “have punched above its reputation”.

This happened at a time when excellence in education, not just academics, was erroneously viewed as the preserve of institutions once called grammar schools.

The school which now carries the name of its first headmaster, Graydon Sealy, has emerged as one of choice for many. At the renaming ceremony, the man who assumed the mantle as its first leader back then, noted that the honour which was conferred on him was pretty much one that must be shared by his staff without whom he could not have achieved what the school now celebrates.

The rebranding of the school, if you will, is a composite honour for not only its first set of teachers, but one which must be shared by those who mixed the early mortar and bent the initial steel which went into the construction of this educational beacon.

It is as much an honour for principals Myrna Belgrave (now Dr Belgrave) and Mrs Pauline Byer and their deputies, all of whom have now retired. Sharing in the glory which the renaming immortalized must be those many teachers of the past 37 years, some of whom have passed on, but many of whom are still here to take their flowers, much deserved.

Prime Minister Stuart, who gave the feature address at the renaming ceremony, said: “A monument more lasting than bronze has been erected in Sealy’s honour.”

According to the Prime Minister, entrusted with the leadership of a brand new school, Mr Sealy set about the task of building an institution whose achievements were laudable. He said the school was being named after a man whose only standard was excellence.

Thanking Mr Sealy for his immense contribution, the Prime Minister said: “. . . The school had contributed massively to the free secondary education effort and had produced some of the most distinguished citizens.”

He singled out outstanding Garrison alumni such as Minister of Housing and Lands Michael Lashley and Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Chris Sinckler. He expressed confidence in Sinckler’s ability as he represents the country overseas at the highest level.

Mr Stuart, who is also the parliamentary representative for the area, said: “I have never accepted the fraudulent distinction that is made between older secondary schools and newer secondary schools, the aim of which distinction usually is to give the impression that newer secondary schools produce products that are inferior to anybody.”

As principal, I take up the challenge offered by the Prime Minister that “it is going to require a redoubling of effort of students from the school to maintain the highest standard possible and to justify the fact they are coming to a school that bears Graydon Sealy’s name”.

I am proud of the excellent heritage that has been bequeathed to my staff and I. I affirm that under the Garrison nomenclature we were doubly strong (GSS) and I boldly assert that under the Graydon Sealy Secondary School (GSSS) emblem, our strength is now tripled and it will be felt on every court, on every track and in every competition in which we find ourselves.

In Graydon’s honour, the unstinting and persistent pursuit of excellence will be our mantra and our hallmark.

• Matthew D. Farley is a secondary school principal, chairman of the National Forum on Education, and social commentator. Email laceyprinci@yahoo.com

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