Trevor H.B. Stewart
“Youth is wasted on the young.” If I had only understood the significance of this quotation when I entered first form at Manning’s in 1965, I would have sat up and paid greater attention over the succeeding five years to what the teachers were trying to instill in us.
Whilst I cannot lay claim to having been an excellent student or outstanding athlete, I nonetheless had a remarkable learning experience along with the greatest group of classmates anyone could ever wish for. Although there were changes within the group as transfers took place in both directions during the five years, the core group remained pretty consistent throughout the period.
In September 1965, my first form (1A) class included the following students, as I recall (remember now, that was fifty years ago!): Noel Bantin, Barrington Forrester, Stafford Blake, Roger Walcott, Ralston Williams, Errol Williams, Carl Marshall, Glenford Mullings, Keith McDonald, Arthur Davis, Carlos Titus (Beharrie), Audrey Murdock, Mava (Marva) Kalawan, Dianne Farr, Esther James, Jennifer Jackson, Barbara Ebanks, Ruth Williams, Icylyn Badaloo, Marjorie Morris, Colin Hitchman, Hildred Reid, Patrick Smith, Hyacinth Atkinson, Beryl McKay, Sandra James, Devonne Taylor, Dorreth McKnight, Lorna (Patsy) Black, Errol Leslie, Claudette Samuels, Ronald Watson, Patricia Williams, Ulett Brown, Elaine Salmon, Jonathan Jagan (Grant), Charles Salmon, Janet Thom, and Cherrie Davis with apologies for anyone I may have omitted.
As we grew together, interesting nicknames emerged for certain members within the group which stayed with them throughout and even beyond school days. These include but are certainly not limited to “Fooda” from the response given as the Spanish for food, “Baggy” from the expressed desire to be transferred to Excelsior with the response that it could only to be an “Excelsior Baggy String”, “Ship” for the wearing of big pants, and “Skirt” from a wardrobe malfunction with shorts on the track. Others include “Mousey”. “Crampy”, “Fine”, “Baby Ruth”, “Freckles”, “Stripey”, and “Straw”.
I would be remiss if I did not pay homage to some of the amazing administrators and great teachers we had along this journey, Mrs. Cecile McGhee of the school office, Mrs. Reid of the school canteen, Headmasters Nicholson, Edwards and Meade, teachers Howard Jackson – coach, Miss Marjorie Bowen (Mumby) – English and History, Miss Sonia Robinson – coach, Mrs Rice – Latin, Mrs. Lilly Anderson – Spanish, Roy Grant – Mathematics, Alvin (Stalin) Surgeon – Sciences, Mrs. Longmore – Music, Miss Claudette White (Neita) – English, Horace Neita, John Revell – Geography and Book Store, Miss Jean Ebanks – Geography, Mrs. Meade – Art, Mr. Glazier – Mathematics, Mrs. Haase – Home Economics, Ms. Valerie Haase, Ms. Hope O’Connor, Mrs. Anderson – Latin, Eldon Mulai, Mr. Reid – Gymnastics Coach, and Edgar Evans – Spanish, among the countless others whose names now elude me.
Those of us who had Mr. Evans for Spanish will always remember his special way of assigning detention (with his notebook) and for the use of the phrase “You must be a special kind of ass, boy!”
Although my participation in the Junior and Senior Colts football teams is somewhat forgettable, I am very proud of my involvement and participation in the Gymnastics Club, and with teammates Alvin Ramcharam, Rudyard Watson, Hanlon, and others, the Club represented the school with distinction.
In 1970, as a consequence of my father’s transfer to Kingston, I had to complete my sixth form years elsewhere. I thought that it would be a breeze to join the Gymnastics Team of my new school, but found that I was to be the only male training with more than two dozen females, including the coach. I was not put off, persevered and attended practices for the first couple of weeks, but my new male classmates found out, came along as spectators to subsequent practices and would not stop hounding me for “letting down the side” as the only male in the team of girls. My seventeen-year-old ego could not take the pressure and I caved and abandoned my quest for continued involvement in gymnastics.
In the 1971/72 academic year, no one was more proud of Manning’s and my former classmates, specifically Patrick Smith and Jennifer McFarlane, head boy girl, respectively, for the leadership role they played in bringing an end to a very disruptive period in the school’s life in 1972. I was particularly impressed with their letter to the editor of the Gleaner at that time and their commendation contained in the report submitted by Mr. S. E. Edmondson, he senior officer assigned by the Ministry of Education to resolve the issue.
To return to my opening statement, and to be more precise, if I had paid more attention to Mr. Edgar Evans and Mrs. Lilly Anderson in Spanish class over the five years, I would not have found myself living in Miami, where Spanish is almost the first language, and being at a disadvantage because of a lack of communication skills in the language. In fact, in 1993, shortly after relocating to Florida, I missed out on a lucrative promotion because I could not commutate in that language as explained by my boss..
Notwithstanding this personal setback, I did gain immensely from Manning’s, not just by way of academics but through lifelong friendships that have resulted from close interactions with my schoolmates. I will always cherish the memories gained and the lessons learned while attending that great institution of the West.
Thank you, Manning's School!