Skip to content

‘Prestige School’ Ponderings

I have a kind of psychic claustrophobia. A fear of anything that confines me to a prescribed amount of space in the world. Labels, check-boxes, baggage, and the like. I’m so obsessed about it I actually wrote a one-woman play (soap box) about it called, appropriately, Pack Light.

Trinidad is so small that no matter what school you went to, people tend to carry or try to bestow others with baggage, the contents of which purportedly pertain to who we are. It’s perhaps even more acute with the “prestige schools”, and lethal in the “west” of Trinidad. For me, the pervasive baggage-handling becomes tiresome, particularly since I try to leave all such items at each school from which I’ve graduated. Whether from my baby, primary, secondary, or tertiary schools, I always hurry to lose the excess, and decompress lest I be confined to being an alum.

In fact, I can be such a zealot about it, when people ask me what school I went to, I have historically declined to state. Conjuring the name = “sound and fury signifying nothing.” Nevertheless, the society is still pervaded by the impulse to “brand” self vs other, which to me is one of the most natural but potentially destructive of human inclinations. So with that in mind, and a little bit of embarrassment about the stereotypes assigned to my alma mater, I did plead “no comment”.

But here I shall break my silence. Yes, yes, I read Attillah’s article in Caribbean Beat. And it produced the strangest reaction. Ironically, it freed me from any impulses to identify or disidentify with my alma mater. Equilibrium: check. So I spent ages 11-18 at St. Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain. And…

Am I a “Convent Girl”? Steups. It’s a ubiquitous term devoid of much meaning other than some Catholic affiliation, and there are a slew of ‘Convent’ schools throughout Trinidad, so I try to avoid the trap of it defaulting to mean just one of them. Do I know what you’re getting at when you use the term? Ugh.

And what does it actually mean, for me, today, to have gone there? It was a dogfight to get into (it was my first choice school, followed by Bishops, Holy Name, and Providence ’cause those were the good schools in my area), going there introduced me to some outstanding mentors, set me on my way to a National Scholarship, and graduating Cum Laude as the first and only Performance Studies Major from the top liberal arts school in the United States. At the same time, I don’t have any blind loyalty that would preclude me from engaging in criticism, or articulating the reasons for the aforementioned (and now expired) embarrassment.

Do I wish I had gone somewhere else? No. Do I care if anyone else thinks I really secretly do? *giggle* No. Do I think anybody else is deprived or jealous or anything else ’cause they didn’t go there? No.

Maybe it’s just me, but high school feels like so long ago, my outlook and interests so different… And particularly if you’ve since completed undergraduate or postgraduate programmes, I wonder what degree of relevance high school even has on who you now are.

No doubt there’s some truth to the stereotypes, and there may be trends and correlations among or between different student populations. But I feel as if there are enough excuses in the world to unnecessarily polarise ourselves in this small island, that the high school days you couldn’t pay me to re-live shouldn’t even make the list.

 

nv-author-image

Caroline Taylor

Caroline is an editor and staff writer at MEP. She is also on MEP’s board of directors, and moonlights as an actor, singer, and director. She’s passionate about telling stories – on the page, on the stage, on screen – and in particular about documenting Caribbean lives and events. She’s currently trying to master unplugging from her iLife… For more: https://www.carolinentaylor.com.View Author posts

1 thought on “‘Prestige School’ Ponderings”

  1. hI LISA TIWARI LOOKING FOR X CONVENT GIRLS OF 83. EMAIL ME AJUSTFRIENDS @HOTMAIL.COM. ALSO HATS OFF TO NAPARIMA GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL FOR THEIR FANTASTIC COOKBOOK AND ALL THOSE RELAY RUNNERS AT THE OLYMPICS MAKIN ME SO PROUD TO BE TRULY TRINI. TRINI TO THE BONE .LUV LISANGELIE

Leave a Reply