Wednesday, 28 October 2015

High School Reflections, 2

When we left Barbados in the summer of 1974, I was devastated. All my friends were there, and I understood myself in Barbadian terms, although I was also well aware of my expatriate status.  I was not, however, the only expatriate in the school.  In my class alone, I was one of four ex-pats.  Betty Martinez, a brilliant student, was Trinidadian.  Robin and I were Jamaicans.  And there was an American girl, whom I can still see clearly in my mind’s eye, but whose name I do not recall.  She was a “fast’ one…way too mature for her years, and always on the make.  Or at least, that was the persona she presented to the rest of us.

When I got home to Jamaica, we moved to the country, and I was even more lonely, because the few people I knew were all in Kingston.  I wrote many, many letters to all my friends that summer, and we bemoaned our fate.  I couldn’t study Spanish and French like I wanted to, with English and History, because they weren’t going to make a Spanish class if enough students didn’t request it.  And they didn’t have Latin for ‘A’ Levels, so I didn’t even bother to ask.  So my 'A’ Level subjects were English, French, European history, and General Paper (freshman comp in American universities).

Manchester High School was a coed school, so not only was I having to acclimatize myself to the country, but also to boys.  Ugh!  That was a misery in every way.  it took me a whole year not to cringe when a boy was around.  They were…unimpressive, both intellectually and personally.  (What?  I’m trying to be nice!  LOL!)  I got used to them eventually, though.  Some of my classmates in those two years were (and forgive me if I don’t remember most of their surnames) Joy Deerr (she was my best friend in that school, and yes, that was her last name), Dawn, Daughn (yes, spelled like that), tall Tony (Dawn’s boyfriend), short Tony, Gary (he was the Head Boy and I was the Head Girl), Sharon, Richard (who liked to tease me mercilessly), Patrick, and Helen.  These are the ones whose names I recall.  My principal was Mr. Gunther, and the French teachers who took our 'A’ Level class to Haiti for a week were Ms. Sutherland and Mrs. Mewa, a Trinidadian.  My English teacher was a Scotswoman whose first name was Sheena.  I can’t for the life of me remember her last name.  I liked her handwriting…I can still see it in my mind.

I went back to Manchester High School to teach for a year after I graduated from UWI with my degree in English.   It was interesting to return as an adult, and still have some of the students remember me.  It was lovely, in a way, to have that as my safety net before I branched out and left home…for a while.

Here is the MHS crest. 
The school’s motto is "Sic Luceat Lux”, which means “Let your light so shine.” I guess I was meant to be, to carry, to shine as a light, since both my schools had those words in their motto.  I hope I have been, and continue to be so.

Alumna, Manchester High School, Mandeville, Jamaica, West Indies

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