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SLICE OF LIFE – Back to school at Ellerslie

marciadottin, [email protected]

SLICE OF LIFE – Back to school at Ellerslie

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It had all the marks of school. The “students” looked very much like youngsters too. This was the scene at the Ellerslie Secondary School reunion last Saturday after sundown.The operations at the entrance were much like it would be on a normal school day. As we entered, the presence of disciplinary slips caught our attention. One slip read: “Detention for lateness. Write 1 000 lines ‘I must be punctual for school at all times’”; another read: “Late slip. Report to the headteacher’s office”.  The ringing of the school bell to announce the start of school; the procession of students to the school hall; the singing of the National Anthem and the school song all created the right ambience as the uniformed students demonstrated reverence and love for their school.The most touching aspect of this re-enactment was the passionate singing of the school song, particularly the second verse which made this proclamation: O Ellerslie! O Ellerslie!Generous alma mater benignO Ellerslie! O Ellerslie!You nurture and imbue the mind.Sons and daughters in their stationWill find deep pride in this our nationAnd torches be diffusing lightBeacons fair for those pursuing right. Former teachers were part of the nostalgia. Stanton Jordan, recently retired head of the foreign languages department, was among those present. Judging by the accolades heaped upon him, it was obvious that he was a popular teacher in his time. His adoring students marvelled at the absence of grey hair and his still youthful appearance.37 years in teachingJordan told us he had been a teacher at the school for 37 years. “This is the only place I have worked since leaving Harrison College,” he quipped.The boldly displayed tags exposed the year the students graduated from school. Pastor John Yarde of the Westmoreland Nazarene Church proudly pointed to his tag with the year 1972. He was open to discussion, informing us that he was among the first students who entered the Black Rock educational institution in 1966.Doreen Prescod, a teacher at Lester Vaughn School, was also one of the first students to enter the school and she reminisced with Yarde about life under the leadership of the first principal, the late Cuthbert Brathwaite. Among their peers was Professor Eudine Barriteau, the current deputy principal of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies.  President of the Alumni Association, Wayne Collymore-Taylor, who is now an engineer assistant at the Barbados Water Authority, was also among the early students, having entered Ellerslie in 1967. He, along with Vilma Scantlebury Bradshaw, whom he praised for the initiative, was the driving force behind the reunion. Groundsman for the last 36 years, St Clair Cadogan, was exuberant as he spoke of the successes of the school, especially in cricket. He commented on his nurturing role with the students and proudly noted the achievements of alumni who represented the West Indies cricket team, including Carlisle Best, Philo Wallace, Sherwin Campbell, Otis Gibson and Suleiman Benn. He was also quick to point out that the school had also produced outstanding national hockey and volleyball players.One of the outstanding hockey players to whom Cadogan referred was Tyrone Walkes, present at the reunion and who informed us that he started playing hockey at age 11 and worked his way up to the Barbados senior team. He is now a member of the Maple hockey team.Some aspect of Crop-Over was bound to emerge and this happened when Makeda Hart, a tutor at the Barbados Community College’s hotel school, spoke glowingly of her sister, Pic-O-De Crop semi-finalist Malika Hart.“I was proud of her. This was her first time and she will get seasoned,” Makeda said.Meanwhile, the old scholars kept coming, keeping the gatekeepers busy at the grand reunion.