Past and present students of The St Michael School gathered at the James Street Methodist Church, the City this morning to mark the institution’s 85th anniversary.
Among those present at today’s church service were past student Dame Maisie Barker-Welch, former Chief Immigration Officer Patricia Cooke, and former school principal Dame Patricia Symmonds who spent 40 years at the school.
In a glowing tribute to Symmonds, past student Betty Alleyne stated that the former principal personally touched the lives of most of the students who entered the gates of the St Michael’s School.
“By insisting relentlessly on our best, she instilled in each of us the non-negotiable standard of excellence in intellectual endeavours as well as in every other aspect of our lives.
“She was seen as the quintessential English teacher at a time when English was indeed the foundation of the whole curriculum, when there was no excellence in History, Geography or even Science scripts if the English was imperfect. To this day, even as adults, former students know that careless English, spoken in her presence, will be immediately corrected,” Alleyne said.
She added that Symmonds was more than a teacher of English, “she was a mentor and an exemplar of decorum, civility and unflappability in every situation. She taught us to exercise independent and critical thinking in our choices and to be true to ourselves and our convictions.”
Alleyne also pointed out that during her teaching career Symmonds was not afraid of change, and embraced the introduction of co-education in 1979, noting that “our handsome, newest and youngest West Indies captain, Jason Holder, is a well-spoken, talented testimony of her vision”.
Symmonds will celebrate her 90th birthday next Sunday.
Following today’s church service she was treated to lunch sponsored by the St Michael School Alumni at Infinity on the Beach, St Lawrence Gap, Christ Church. (NC)