There seemed to be more anxious parents than students at the Alexandra School this morning, as students of the Gordon Greenidge and Roland Edwards Primary schools filed into the yard to await further instructions for the sitting of their 11-Plus Exams.
And such was the case all over the island as parents appeared under more pressure than those who actually had to complete the papers.
By 8 a.m., quite a few parents had already gathered with their children in tow, with at least one principal on hand to ensure her wards from the Gordon Greenidge school were settled.
Principal Angela Smith said that she was not at all worried, and had every faith that her 30 pupils were ready for the test ahead of them.
“You can’t wait until the last minute to make a big do. I always tell my parents the big do has to come long before, years before. It can’t be on the day or even the day before,” she stated, as her pupils milled around, mixing an chatting easily amongst each other, and with their parents who were also there.
A group of boys from the Roland Edwards school banded together for a photograph, declaring themselves already “The Combermere Posse” with high hopes that they would be seeing each other and maintaining their friendship at the island’s number two school.
In fact, the parents, each one pretty silent while the children chatted, that seemed a little tense minutes before the clock struck 8:30 and the students were told to assemble.
One parent laughed as she said that her daughter was already wondering about the large meal in store for her afterwards: “I tell her to study the food after. We gine and eat down de place,” said the excited mother, as she and others banded together and made plans to meet up at one of the eateries after the exam.
While some parents filed out the gates, after making sure their children were okay, others headed for the familiar bamboo patch and the few benches there, prepared to wait out the four hours until the exam adjourned. Some gathered to discuss their own long ago memories of the Common Entrance or even secondary school exams and how unnerving the process was.
“Say a prayer, hear,” one mother called to her son, as another parent urged her to relax, telling her her son would be okay.
“I know, I know”, she said and joined one of the many discussion groups.
“De children know what to do already. No sense getting yuhself worked up,” another parent advised a colleague.
Over at Ellerslie Secondary School where the students from Deacons, Grazettes, and St. Stephen’s Primary School wrote the exam, there was a buzz as they gathered in groups and spoke animatedly.
While there were lots of hugs and big smiles from friends, some parents or relatives looked quite anxious as they fussed over them.
“Good luck” and “do your best” were said repeatedly before the students and their parents moved to the hall of the Black Rock, St. Michael school for prayers before the youngsters headed off to the classrooms where they would write the three hour exam.
Principals Shirley Marshall, Etwyn Bynoe and Colin Cumberbatch as well as their teachers from Class 4 and Class 3 joined the students in the hall as Deputy Principal Ronald Leacock addressed them before another teacher, Mr. Rollins said a prayer.
During the break which came at 11:15 p.m., the parents ensured their charges were fed before the bell rang half hour later signalling the resumption of the mathematics component of the exam. (LB/DS)