SCHAPER SCHOOL REMEMBERED
We sat on the rock-hard benches, so hard we sometimes had to put
the pressure on one peg ah bam bam at a time. We were away from
it all, away from the hustle and bustle. We were nicely tucked
away in a remote spot at Brother’s Estate, which was the past
abode of a cocoa boucan. There we nourished the brain and we fed
the spirit. Friendships blossomed and like a silk cotton tree
grew powerful roots. Then branches spread to New York, London,
Toronto and diverse places. We built a lodge-like relationship
but more than that we became a family—a special Grenadian
family. We were a family grounded on good principles.
The school had a rugged start. There are those like Mr. Herman
Hall—a teacher from the inception, who can spell out in great
detail the trials that existed when the school began. He will
point out the conflicts and roadblocks the established churches
sought to put in the school’s way. The school was a religious
secondary school of a difference. Evangelical missionaries from
the U.S.A. owned it and some of its policies set a new trend in
Grenada. One such policy was allowing over-aged students to
attend the school. It was those same over-aged students who
lifted the school to a level on par with the established
secondary schools. One such indication of imminent success came
when Mr. Hall wrote a play that students performed and even the
Governor General took note. One of his students, Mr. George
Wilson, later became a principal of the school.
It is refreshing to reflect on the Christmas Cantata, the
musical Christmas hymns and plays that the children performed at
Christmas time. The many voices rose in perfect harmony
engulfing the tranquil air with the inspiring songs. Today, we
revert to those songs for further comfort when the times get
rough and when our spirits sag. We sang the songs that were
articulated with revival fervor.
The buses streamed from Victoria and Gouyave, Sauteurs and St.
George’s with students and their parents to attend our “Speech
Night” at Schaper School. Speech night was the time for other
speeches. It was the time for the big lime by Kong and Miss
Maylin’s Shop where students used the power of speech to check
out ah ting. The speech night for some was the ole talk on the
Those of us who took the bus to school had to be punctual. When
Labor Reward or Theresa B. revved up their engines and prepared
for the journey and one was still looking for his or her uniform
or books, it was later for you. Then one had to hop a bus in the
market and hope to reach for the third or fourth period. Masters
and Raymond who drove the big yellow school buses were ready to
make the trip and you had to find yourself at the bus stop
early. I recall “Blackboy,” Thompson and Dudley controlling the
steering wheel of the wooden well-ventilated vehicles. When the
dismissal bell rang, it was another race for the bus. Some of
the drivers had to rush to pick up their other passengers whose
daily toil in St George’s were completed by 4:00 p.m. It was a
race for the high seat and a bus race up Marigot Hill.
The bus rides were always fun and there were always lots of
laughter. The joy was multiplied if we closed our eyes and
ignored the many steep hills and sharp corners on the way. I
sometimes quiver when I reflect on the near misses, and I can
only thank God for the protection he afforded us through the
years. On a few occasions, we had to turn back after passing
Happy Hill and reaching that flattened area in Beausejour. That
area was once lined with cane fields on either side. Once, rain
fell bucket ah drop and it was water more than flour, so we had
to turn around. An adventurous driver of a car tried to venture
forth but his vehicle became a boat in the middle of the road.
We have a lot to be thankful for. We are thankful for the
Grenada Boys' Secondary School, Presentation Boys' College,
Anglican High School and the other school connections that gave
us brilliant teachers like Dr.Dunstan Campbell, Dr. Keith
Mitchell, Dr. Kenny Lewis, Brother Sam from Victoria, Kathleen
Peters from Gouyave, the brother and sister Campbell team from
Happy Hill, Miss Griffith, Anthony Boatswain, Fitzroy James,
Alice Henry, Bernadette George, “Cheese” Lashley and Peter
Thomas. I must not fail to mention teacher “Mose” Antoine , who
in the midst of a Spanish class session would pull out a piece
of bread from his pocket and the students would erupt in
laughter. He was fond of saying the word "bulto" and raising his
hands as he did so. Once while he gesticulated as he said the
word, he accidentally struck Miss Marshall, the school's
secretary as she entered the class.
In those days the schools helped each other. When an A' Level
English teacher was difficult to find, Brother Schaper made
arrangements for "Daddy Bakes" Baptiste of GBSS, to teach us
English on Saturdays. I am indebted to Daddy Bakes for the
English lessons he taught me at his home while I was preparing
for the GCE A' Level English examination. They all did yeoman
work that laid the groundwork which helped mold now accomplished
minds like the great “Polar” Henry, Sandra Ferguson and many
We were grateful for the night classes. Schaper in his wisdom,
put a big floodlight that lit up the whole pasture and its
concrete cricket strip. He wanted to be absolutely sure the
students would not carry on their own night class in the
darkness of the pasture near the concrete strip. Some ended up
by the river to indulge in classes of another nature.. I
remember the concrete strip where a certain teacher tried to
bowl spin and ended up bussing his big toe with the ball.
I recall Robbie and that monstrous motorbike. Robbie, the
brilliant historian from the U.S.A. was not too brilliant a
biker. He gave me a ride once and when we reached Grand Roy and
he started looking back to talk to me, I thought it prudent to
refrain from speaking for the remainder of that trip. Robbie was
the teacher who taught German and had only a few brave souls in
his class. Jackie Miller from Belmont, a superb artist, was
later speaking German with the tourists on Grand Anse beach.
I think of the mechanic shop and students wondering what further
ideas Brother Schaper would introduce. We already had the
philosophy class with Bro. Schaper teaching us about Emmanuel
Kant. The students used to laugh when he pronounced the word
Kant. It sounded just like a word Grenadians knew all too well.
Brother Schaper introduced the ten point West Indian history
quiz when we were accustomed to writing essays. Then he made
matters worse by reading the names of all those who got zero in
the examinations he gave. He stood in front of the class and
read out the names of all those who, like cricketers, failed to
get off the mark.
The mechanic shop was a good idea and some students gained
valuable information about the intricacies about vehicles.
Jeffrey Williams told me how much that knowledge helped him.
I recollect Polar making a speech in the auditorium and saying
that as far as God was concerned, “there is no conclusion.”
Polar was branded a heretic and I can’t recall him making
another speech again. He was such a brilliant individual that it
was easy to misconstrue what he was really saying. He went on to
earn his PHD in Mathematics. I also remember the many sermons of
Brother Baber and especially the one about the boy who pounded a
nail into a piece of wood. He was asked to take out the nail
which he easily did. Then he was asked to take out the hole,
which was impossible. The lesson dealt with our actions and the
scars that are left even though we take corrective measures.
I recall students laughing at “Trop” when he struggled in
English class. He once wrote about the time he “tripped a
Dracula” and the class laughed kee kee kee for days. But then
GCE time rolled around and Trop told Cambridge about the
“full-blooded shots” he learned from the cricket commentators,
and then he put the icing on the cake by telling the examiners
about the time he got the ball in front of the goal and “THAT
WAS IT!” That was the perfect air of finality for such an essay.
Words in place sah! When the results came and Trop passed
English, the laughter was wiped from many faces. I also think of
the time Bro. George told a certain student, “Boy, your English
is old fashioned.”
I cannot forget the time Lennard “Taloff” told a young lady at
the Form Five graduation dinner, “No postponement tonight!” That
dinner we had at a restaurant in Gouyave owned by Mr. Peters.
Dunstan, our Geography teacher, counted the few grain of peas we
got after we paid all that money for the dinner.
I think of the time Brother Schaper brought a number of
prominent people from Gouyave to teach in the school. They
included Mr. Francis of the Bata shoe store, Carlyle Glean, Mr.
Raleigh Bhola, the father of Rosie, and that interesting
gentleman called Mr. Critchlow. We also had a Duncan fella who
called himself “the geogist.” He also brought a firebrand from
St. Georges, called Layne, who almost set off a revolution in
the school. He wanted to chase away the white people. That was
during the time when the Black power movement was raging in
I must not fail to mention those who excelled in sports. Conrad
Francis and Jenny Boca were great middle distance runners who
left people gasping in amazement at the intercollegiate sports
meeting. Errol Alexis was always wicked with the cricket bat and
he became a good ambassador for the school. Prengay was our
midfield maestro, who also stabilized the powerful Hurricanes
football team. Alister Romain excelled both in cricket and
football. The school produced a number of notable netballers
I sit and think of the music classes. The piano was there but to
many students, music class was a big joke. When Sister Wherman
asked a student we nicknamed “Prospect” to tell the class the
note on the bottom line, he took about five minutes, got up
gradually and then shouted “F,” causing great laughter. However,
some took the music seriously and I know they are passing down
information about Mozart and Bach and others to their children..
Then there were the agricultural classes. Agricultural science
was new. Dr. Dunstan Campbell introduced it as a new discipline.
He was a man of numerous talents and he showed us how to plant
bananas and cocoa deep in Brothers Estate. I can still picture
Cowie and Reds with their big water boots. They planted the corn
in Brothers Estate but the rats ate most of it. They also acted
as estate policemen arresting students like Murphy who
unlawfully entered their farmed area. Such students were
promptly brought to the principal.
Dr. Kenny Lewis built up the chemistry lab all by himself and he
showed immense dedication, often remaining after school to aid
students who sought his assistance. He too, was a pillar of the
I must include the time a certain fellow had to apologize in
front of the students for eating someone’s food and hiding the
food container in a hole in the wall.
I remember the time pupils from St. George’s, like Bugs and
Shampoo, were afraid to pass through Gouyave. It was carnival
time and some masqueraders called vekkos were beaten up in St
George’s and that enraged Gouyavarians who came to school
looking for the St. George's students to beat them up. The town
students were aware of the time Tobias’ father came looking for
teacher Kenny with a long chain so they took no chances.
Then there were those who always made people laugh. Baku,
Augustine, Doubles, Slemmo and John Duncan readily come to mind.
Gordon Briggs, the fella who loved his guitar, was always full
of life. He was a good table tennis and cricket player too.
I remember the wooden bus in the pasture, which was the site of
the calypso tent that featured the Mighty Big Balls and
Nathaniel, the Mighty Water Cart. Then Sister Burke broke up our
I think of Tall Joe from Victoria who promised to be the first
man to find iron ore in Grenada. His wife, another Schaper
product, is a wonderful New York doctor. We always had a strong
Victoria contingent that included people like Judy and Jocelyn
Dubois and Chester Cadore. I can’t forget Lapo bringing up the
big pot of fish broth that he cooked on the Lance. We sat in the
same wooden bus, the calypso tent, and gobbled down the
dumplings, yams and big jacks during our lunch recess. I recall
Michael “Mashie” bent over some huge books in the library and a
fella called Webster who swallowed a dictionary by the same
name. I recall the dedication of Michael Hunte. I remember
Fraustine, Tinyman, Fedon, Ian and Alwin Salfarlie, and Pepe
from Beaulieu. Then there were those who came after, like Bosco
and Jericho from the Point. I remember the time Hudson McPhail
became an economics teacher at Schaper School after he returned
from England. My mind reverts to the student who saw me at Point
Saline on my return to Grenada and was so happy he shouted:
“Aye, aye, dog face, ah see yuh come back!” I laughed because
years ago I had jokingly called him the same name.
My mind goes back to the time when a certain calypsonian who
worked on a bus threatened Brother George. Poor fella, he did
not know better. The whole of Victoria came looking for him but
he never showed up. I remember Mayfair who transported the
students from Victoria and had all the young ladies laughing
with tales of his real and imagined exploits.
And, yes, that time when we sat in St. Rose convent to do a GCE
“O” Level Health Science examination! The exam was given and
everyone was shocked. Nothing that we prepared for was on that
test. Students sat with sad, long faces already resigned to
their ultimate failure. And then, suddenly, the tension was
broken—a fellow (I will not call his name) leggo ah thunderous
one. Immediately pens set to work. That jolted everyone to life
and ignited our intellect. Father Evelyn, the test monitor,
said, “That boy eats well!” That was the same individual who ran
Miss Burke from the class when he changed the composition of the
air with an odor similar to that of sulfur dioxide.
There is so much to reflect on but I will leave that for another
time. Past students are urged to help out the school in anyway
they can. It is your Alma Mater.
Help in anyway you can. Remember what Ivan did to the school.