Scores Mark Combermere School’s 75th Anniversary Pauline Ngunjiri St. James’s Parish has become a hub of activities as former students of the Combermere School living in Nevis and who traveled from overseas participate in various events organized to mark the school’s 75 th anniversary. According to the local steering committee Coordinator, Linell Nolan, the idea of organizing a reunion has been in the minds of several former students for a number of years and it became a reality this year. He noted that there was a consensus among the various committees that holding the anniversary celebrations to coincide with the Culturama festival was the best option. The anniversary celebration activities began on July 18 and will end on July 26. Nolan noted that funds raised during the anniversary celebrations will help finance a computer literacy program for adults. He revealed that an adequate number of lap tops will be purchased. The Chairman of the New York based central committee, Rumelo Jeffers, said a lot of work has been put into making the anniversary activities successful. He said steering committees were set up two and a half years ago in different parts of the world – in New York, Canada, England, St. Maartin, Tortola, St. Croix, St. Thomas and Nevis. Activities planned include a welcome reception and opening of the Combermere Reunion Village, a special church service at the Combermere Methodist Church, a health fair, a night with the Travellers Singing Ministry from New York at NePAC, a Beachnic, the Good Old Days night, a Bingo Night, A Gospel Singspiration, a dance, a one day boat trip to Montserrat, a talent show, a domino competition, a banquet and a concert. Also established as part of the activities that mark the anniversary celebrations is a museum of artifacts and antiques the community used in yesteryears. The original Combermere School building which still stands strong houses the museum. The Combermere School was opened in 1940, built on land gifted from Lord Combermere. The students who attended the school were from the villages of Westbury, Fountain, Mount Lily, Camps, Scarborough, Rawlins Pasture, New Castle, Liburd Hill, Barnaby and Brick Kiln. The Observer interacted with some of the former teachers and students of the school: Silvia Williams, 85, was a student at Combermere School. She recalled being in the school for the first and second year and says circumstances beyond her control made her leave school in her third year. She recalled that students were organized, orderly and disciplined. Tonio Sadio, a New York based real estate broker, spoke highly of the school, “I was enrolled at the school in 1954. The principal then was Mr. Richards. I also taught in the school in 1970. We had to be orderly. Personal hygiene was very important. We had to dress decently. We had to keep our hands clean. The school was closely connected to the Methodist Church. Attending church was a priority.” Earleen Maynard taught at the school at the age of 15. “I started teaching at the school at the age of 15 in 1974. I was a classroom teacher for 21 years. I became a principal of the school from 1995 to 2000. The celebration has brought people together that I had not seen for many years. The other night I met a young man who was a student here who relocated to St. Maartin. We shed tears of joy.” Lorraine Browne began teaching at the Combermere School at the age of 14. “We had no secondary education after we sat for Test of Standards. We had 510 students in one block and everybody was happy and orderly. Some classes had to be taught outside. The number of students in each class ranged between 45 to 60 students. At first if you failed Test of Standards you did not go to secondary school but later it was mandatory for all students to go to secondary school at the age of 12. I am happy to see all the students I taught. When they greet me I feel very good.” Franklyn Browne taught at the school from 1943 to 1951. At the time, teachers wrote on slates, he said. Browne is proud of Combermere School and spoke highly of the status of education on the island of Nevis. “I think we have developed almost to world’s standards. Our students compete favorably with students in the developed world. This makes me very happy. We worked hard in the past and laid a solid foundation. A former Attorney General of St. Kitts and Nevis, Patrice Nisbett spoke highly of his Alma Mata. He also commended the organizing committees for organizing what he described as a “wonderful week of activities”. “We had teachers in Combermere School who were able to instill in us discipline and also told us that one had to achieve academic excellence. Teachers went beyond the call of duty in order to ensure we were properly educated. The teachers ensured that the classroom environment was under control. We did not have the level of indiscipline that we have today. The school played a very important role in ensuring that the students were disciplined and this was transferred to the homes and to the community. I got a solid foundation that has enabled me to make contribution towards community life and nation building.” Delroy Pinney was a student at Combermere School 1974 to 1979. He recalls that the students were all under one roof and yet they were orderly and disciplined. He cited bias in the education system of the day. “You saw country and town bias playing out. In the 1980s all the other schools except may be Whitehall had an opportunity to go to secondary school at age 12 whereas we had to do a test and after the test only five or six students would be taken to secondary school.”