Which school did you attend?
The question above was put to a brilliant scholar in an interview. "The Dominica Grammar School," was his prompt reply.
This answer did not go down well with his elementary school teacher, the late W.O.M. Pond who taught him at the Roseau Mixed School. In an article in The Chronicle Mr. Pond was forced to ask this important question many years ago while taking strong exception to the reply given by the boy he taught at elementary school, the RMS; the boy had received a scholarship to attend the DGS.
This boy, as I remember, was a bright student at the RMS and Mr. Pond took care of him because Mr. Pond saw his potential. This is why he was disappointed with his former student's reply.
How often does one hear grown men say they were educated at the DGS or at the SMA, forgetting the elementary school where they began their education and the devoted teachers who took care of them?
Those of us who were not privileged to attend high school because then only four scholarships were awarded (three from government, and one from the Roseau Town Council) to successful candidates, especially under the tutorship of devoted teachers like the late Mrs. Eileen (Abott) Shillingford, W.O.M. Pond, later to become Rev. Pond, and Ira Labad, all of blessed memory, who assisted us in getting our Seven Standard Certificate and thereby reaching out proudly to the world of work.
I well remember a visit that my former teacher Mrs Shillingford paid to the office where I worked to find out how I was doing. She made me feel as if I was still at school under her guidance. The question is, could this happen today?
I still remember a question put to me many years ago by Fr. Clement Jolly who asked me which of the secondary schools I attended. Such a question coming from him meant that he had seen something in me. My reply to him was that I didn't attend secondary school.
I once asked Teacher Pond if a boy didn't attend secondary school what would be his future. The answer to this question was: secondary education without ambition is of no use. Whereas if you did not attend secondary school and you are ambitious you can go very far, as we can see today.
I always remember the Late Rev E.A. Belboda of the Methodist Church who delivered the feature address at our School Leaving ceremony in the mid Forties. He implored us that as we left school we must never leave school. By this he meant that we must read, read, read… continuously. There could not have been better advice and some of us took it seriously. How often did Mr. Pond remind us that our school days would soon be over and that we must all work and prepare, with anxious care, for the swiftly coming future.
It is only fitting that in closing, as I pay tribute to RMS, that I quote a verse from Sir Henry Newbolt's lovely poem 'Best School of All'.
"Though long we've missed the sight of her/ Our heart may not forget/We've lost the old delight of her/ We keep her honour yet".
A Past Student