Today was to be ‘Pride Day’ at the Lester Vaughan
Instead students and staff were thrown into shock and mourning
when they learned of the death of their principal, Diana Wilson.
There was a still and sullen air on the campus by mid-morning,
by which time all of the students who had turned up for school, had
been dismissed, and classes adjourned for the day.
Parents who accompanied children to school were advised to
take them back home, while two- to three hundred students who
had turned up alone for their regular classes were taken to the
assembly hall where counsellors were made available to them.
In the staff room, there was standing room only as teachers,
some of whom were on leave, were involved in a counselling
session, along with Deputy Principal, Sonja Goodridge, who
addressed them and allowed staff a chance to vent their grief and
share memories. Members of the school’s Board, officials from
the Ministry of Education, as well as past principal, Reverend Ezra
Barker from the Hawthorne Methodist Church and a number of
other ministers of the faith and counsellors, were there to speak
and comfort those who needed it.
Along corridors, those who were still in disbelief spoke in quiet
tones of the woman they will all miss, even as the school was to
celebrate Old Scholar Week this week.
Reports were that Wilson had complained of back pains just
yesterday and had died at home last night.
When a team from Barbados TODAY visited, Chairman of
the Board, Bryden Springer related: “[Diana] loved her children,
her school, and the staff. She had a vision and a mantra which said
that no child should be left unattended. I would like everyone to
remember that. You will be doing a great justice to what she
would have started.
“She was always a tireless worker, someone who would never
shirk from duty, always on-time, one of the first in and probably
one of the last to leave. What we can do in her memory is to
continue her good work and continue to live the Lester Vaughan
dream and by the school’s motto Per Scientiam Adolescimus –
Rooted in Knowledge We Grow.”
Her deputy, Goodridge recalled that they had met even prior
to her tenure at Lester Vaughan, when they were both completing
their Cert. Ed. qualifications.
She said even back then Wilson was a woman who always liked
to be ahead of whatever she had to do, ensuring assignments were
done before time and planning for the future.
“She was always one that would encourage me to apply for
a job. Even when she was applying for deputy, she called me and
told me to apply for the same job. I remember saying to her I
was young, but she said, no, age has nothing to do with it,” said
Goodridge, adding that she had many fond memories of her now
late friend and colleague.
Even apart from their school duties, she said they got to know
each other well.
Wilson, who lived in Brittons Hill, St. Michael, was the mother
of three daughters. She was appointed to the service in September
1983, and was head of department at Harrison College from
February 2000 and took up her assignment as Deputy Principal at
Lester Vaughan around 2010.
She had lost her mother earlier this year, as well as an aunt and
a close friend within recent months.
With the news of Wilson’s passing, the social media Facebook
was abuzz with tributes coming from past and present students.
Among them, Chad Burrowes-Gill, who on the Old Scholars
page said “The news of her sudden passing has ripped a hole in
the hearts of many and thrown an entire extended family into
mourning. We pray that God may comfort all of us in this time and
bring us even closer.”
He further noted that all further activities scheduled for Old
Scholars Week 2013 were cancelled.
In another post, Shauna Paul noted that she “…can’t believe
you are gone…Sigh! I just saw you the another day”, while another
writer lamented “We have lost [a] teacher who was like a mother
to us. Miss Wilson we will miss you.” (RG/LB)