It has been one of my greatest pleasures to see my alma mater, the second-oldest high school in Jamaica -- and a 'country' school at that — celebrating its 275th anniversary of existence. Congratulations of the highest order are extended to the headmasters, staff and students over all those years for their contribution to keeping alive the school's motto: Vita sine litteris mors est (Life without learning is death).
Having entered the doors of this magnificent historical structure as a scholarship holder, my five years were spent revelling in all academic subjects and student activities. Riding on my 'ladies wheel' bicycle six miles each day, rain or shine, from beautiful Petersfield, and on the lonely Amity Road, there was nothing to fear but the "Black Heart Man" whom, fortunately, over the five years I never once encountered. My lunchbox occupied the carrier at the back of the bicycle but, on some Monday mornings, it had to find another location as a box with cookies, baked over the weekend and destined for the tuck shop, was anchored there.
I still recall that one morning I was privileged to have the headmaster, Mr GE Mitchell, pass through my classroom and place on my desk a lovely mango that he had picked up on his walk around the grounds. Believe me that I was the envy of the class on that day.
Having been a member of my church's children's choir and auditioned by Miss Janie, our music teacher, I was selected to be a part of the school choir which performed mainly at prize-givings and other school functions
As a 'country girl come to town', I remember experiencing a ride on the "chi-chi bus" with fellow students on our way to a YWCA summer camp in the Blue Mountains. How exciting it was to ride on a horse part of the way in the mountains, as we picked and ate strawberries, watched the sun rise at the peak, see jello set by placing the containers on the outside ledge of the building, and meeting other girls from Corporate Area schools.
On a school outing to the beach in Negril, I remember that my dressmaker-made bathing suit covered my body from my neck to below my knees. That, of course, was the style of the day. It was not all outdoors enjoyment though, and my five years were well spent, as I greatly benefited from the challenging academic guidance and encouragement of my teachers and headmasters, Messrs Mitchell and L A Prescod.
Commitment to service
Like so many other proud past students, I have endeavoured to put the benefits derived from my Manning's years to useful effect in various areas of public and community service. Indeed, one of my most valued honours is the recognition I received in 2007 from the Past Students' Association by its conferment of the Honourable Justice James S Kerr Award for Service Excellence. This award is named in honour of the past student/head boy and legal luminary.
Since leaving my beloved Manning's I have watched with keen interest and great pleasure the growth and development of this historical institution. I have been elated at the outstanding performances of a significant number of its students, and have keenly tracked the contributions that Manning's graduates have made locally and internationally.
May this venerable school ever grow in strength and distinction as it continues to shape and inspire young people in the communities it serves. In addition, may all current and future students, in their own communities and in the country at large, persist in making real the school's commitment to learning and service to others.
Reproduced from the Manning's 275 Celebrations magazine.
The article was also carried in the Monday, November 25, 2013 copy of the Jamaica Observer.
* Gloria Salmon, CD - Order of Jamaica, Commander Class.
* First Recipient of The Hon. Justice James Kerr Award for Service Excellence
- The Manning's School Past Students Association, November 2007.
* Former director of the Jamaica Library Service.