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                                                                     the Old           the New

Known as the Revolution Hall, it is said that this estate was the planning ground or meeting place for the Fedon Rebellion of 1795-6. It was owned by Jacques Fedon, brother of Julien Fedon. After the rebellion it was bought over by a Mr. Smith, before it was sold in later years with about 160 acres to the religious order, Brother's Of St. John's. 

Today it houses the St, John's Christian Secondary School, known also as  Schaper School.

                                                        Bro. & Sis. Schaper, taken 16th March 2005


 A story by Past Student of SJCSS, Wendell Deriggs.


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 outside.

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 others.

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 America.

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 too.

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 school.

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 calypso tent.

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.

Wendell Deriggs.

Help in anyway you can. Remember what Ivan did to the school.