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‘Old girl’ presents centenary lecture

‘Old girl’ presents centenary lecture

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Violence against women, the evolution of the education system and the future of Girls’ High School were a few of the issues discussed at the first Girls’ High School (GHS) centenary lecture.{{more}}

The lecture was held at the Methodist Church Hall in Kingstown on Saturday, May 8, 2010, under the theme “100 years of Excellence – where tradition meets tomorrow.”

The lecture series is one of the activities planned to mark the 100th anniversary of the GHS.

Lecturer of the evening, Dr. Peggy Gibbs Antrobus, presented on the topic “Contexts 1911-2011 remembering the past, reflecting on the present, imagining the future.”

Reflecting on the present, Antrobus, an “old girl” of the school, noted that the current climate is one characterised by economic and political problems as well as social ones.

She expressed that many problems face the youth of today, including the spread of HIV/AIDS and addiction. “These harm young people directly as well as indirectly by providing distractions from what should be their primary task – using opportunities for getting an education,” Antrobus, the 1953 island scholar, stated.

Noting the alarming rate of violence against women, Antrobus stated that gender based violence is associated with a pattern of gender socialization that discriminates against girls and encourages boys’ disrespect of girls.

Antrobus, who has spent most of her life working on the advancement of women’s rights and development, noted that the present problems are as a result of the breakdown of law and order in society which reflects a lack of discipline and the exploitation of young people by the media.

In speaking of the past, Antrobus reflected on the colonial education present when the Girls’ High School was established.

Antrobus also discussed the progression of education which began with a privileged few being accepted to the GHS, to present day, where over 700 students from all strata of society now attend the school. The change of the curriculum was also noted, with the Caribbean Examinations Council replacing the British curriculum, and the sciences and computer studies being a part of the modern curriculum.

Antrobus also reflected on past teachers and Headmistresses of the school, in particular Laura Smith-Moffett who was remembered as a disciplinarian, as well as other teachers who contributed to shaping the lives of the women of today.

Acknowledging that the challenges of today are much more difficult than those of her time, Antrobus stated that these challenges bring out the best in us.

“They are, after all, also opportunities to find new, more appropriate and sustainable paths to a future free of violence, alienation, and disrespect for each other and destructive environmental practices of today,” she said.

The school, she added, has a critical role to play in the realization of the vision of a better future, to build on the school’s past efforts to create “a better, more just, equitable and sustainable future.”

The evening, which was hosted by GHS “old girl” Cleo Jones-Huggins, also saw the engagement of the audience in a brief discussion after Antrobus’ presentation.

Two presentations were made, the first to Meisha Charles, a present student of the school, for her outstanding performance. Teacher Jodie Dennie also received an award for being the winner of the 100th anniversary logo competition.

The prayer was said by “old girl” Rennetta Nicholls, while Jones-Huggins was introduced by present student Franeek Joseph.

Janelle Allen, another “old girl”, treated the audience to a musical interlude, while President of the GHS Alumnae Joye Browne gave an update on the centenary celebrations. A delightful vote of thanks was given by teacher of the school Verdine Green-Roberts.

The next lecture in the series, “Regional Integration- Achievable and Sustainable?” will be presented by “old girl” Shafia London on June 10, 2010. (OS)

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