So how do you thank someone, who has taken you from crayons to perfume..lyrics from the song To Sir with Love
On Tuesday October 15th 2013 at Joseph’s Restaurant Cascade, Trinidad, an
intimate group of about 25 girls, now women in their late fifties and early sixties sang the words “To “Jo” with Love” to
our beloved teacher.
The St Theresa’s Convent Girls Intermediate Class, Form 1 G from the years 1967 -1972, the Reunistas, the Recyled
Teens, as we fondly think of ourselves, had the enormous pleasure and privilege to
celebrate friendships of 46 years. Most
significantly, we came together to share an honorary thank you to our teacher,
formerly Sr. Mary Jovita, now widowed and a grandmother, and ever still a
To us she is Jo. And to us, she is an indelible, unforgettable
inspiration, who is an integral part of the intimate legacy of who we are and who we have become.
As one of the new crop of local nuns to start teaching right
out of the Holy Faith Convent order, she was merely 20 years old when she
introduced herself to the 35 or so, new Common Entrance, form 1 G class
starting secondary school at St. Theresa’s.
No more than a petite 4’6’’ and
let’s just add 2 inches with the hood of the habit, for good measure, there was
a curious precociousness about her.
With a rowdy bunch of misfits, there were those of us with
very prestigious backgrounds. The family names preceded them. There were those with struggling families
barely able to afford the uniform and books required to attend high
school. Some traveled from the far East,
all up by Caroni, 20 miles outside of the school district, and some others did not have enough money to buy bus fare to school on a
There were the highly popular girls who knew each other from
their former Holy Faith Convent private schools attendance. There were the many girls who had all of the
strikingly beautiful assets of face, hair, eyes and shape. There were those who were the quiet and remained
mostly to themselves. There were the rambunctious, which somehow, trouble would
come seeking them… even when they were attending church services.
With an eclectic bunch of the few who were disposed to be
studious, and more of us, that were keen
on being in the “in crowd” Jo had her work cut out for her. She must have prayed real hard, because she
found all of the most innovative ways to capture our attention and encourage camaraderie, sportsmanship and friendship.
In English and English Literature, our class performed
Shakepeare’s As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, Midsummer’s Night Dream with theatrical
aplomb and lusty characterizations. As
opposed to the teachings by the Irish nuns, our class also got to perform local
plays. One of our favorite enactments
was “Tief from Tief make God laf” . We took liberties with our local dialect and spewed our sentences with every flavor of local twang. In that
play, there was more laughter from the actors’ performances, than there were
from our school audiences. We learnt
Chaucer and spoke “goode olde” English prose.
Jo championed these efforts with charismatic enthusiasm and
Jo, led us as Girl Guides.
We visited Tobago. We visited
Toco. We visited Fort George. We went
down de islands. We went to Our Lady of
Fatima pilgrimages. We participated in
school bazaars to make sure our school fund raising efforts were
Many of our greatest pranks played on each other were unknown
to Jo, while under her and other teachers’ watchful eyes.
Jo, was our netball, volleyball, sports coach. There seemed to be no exhaustion to her efforts
to keep us virtuous and exhaustively occupied.
Jo encouraged our talents.
Our class enjoyed participating in many music festivals under the choral
tutelage and stellar instructions by Jo.
In addition to classical singing, Jo was most instrumental in
encouraging our local carol singing and paranging. Because our carol singing became so popular,
and the demand for our house visits became so extensive, we perhaps, became the
cause of our own misfortune of losing Jo’s accompaniment in our travels. Her
outings with our caroling groups got derailed as the convent rules prevented
her frolicking with us past their curfew hours.
Jo was untiring in her efforts to shepherd her very first
class of secondary school age girls.
Needless to say, we must have exhausted her beyond understanding. Yet, she never showed us indifference or even
shared her own disappointments that we may not have been as serious and
studious as she hoped she taught us to be.
After we left High School our lives have taken its many separate
paths. Many of us stayed in Trinidad and became successful business entrepreneurs. Quite a few of us, left Trinidad and made new
lives abroad, in London, the United States, Canada, Montreal and other far
places throughout the world. Our stories
are all rich in tragedies and luxuries.
Each one of us has many facets of colorful lives that makes us all very individual and
unique. We are grandmothers now. We are single. We are married, divorced and
Jo, also, has a new history.
She is now a widow, a grandmother, and she continues to teach. A local private school in Port of Spain now
has the jeweled prize of Jo as their steelpan and music teacher.
After four decades of separate lives, our Class of 1972
reconnected. A fellow classmate
describes our reunion as follows:
To all you beautiful ladiesWhat can I say! What a wonderful Reunion of our Class of ’72. So
many of you took time out from your busy schedules to be there.
To the awesome ladies who took their vacation and flew in from abroad to attend
this event thank you. I know it took lots of organizing on your part. It
was definitely worth it.
To those of you who initially expressed embarrassment and apprehension to
attend because you didn’t immediately remember some of our classmates thank you
for making the effort and coming out to face the challenge. Hey it’s been
41 years and we’re getting on in age. The memory is not what it used to
be. The idea was to re-connect and re-connect we did! All it took
was a little jog of the old memory.