RHIANNA MC KENZIE
THANKS to social media, keeping up with old friends has never been easier. But after 37 years, the Tunapuna Presbyterian Primary School class of 1982 decided to reconnect with their playground pals the old-fashioned way. The held a reunion on June 22, at the El Dorado Community Centre to catch up on each other's lives and take a walk down memory lane.
The past pupils performed a playful skits recreating fun moments with their teachers. They took turns at the mic reminiscing on school-yard banter and playful moments with each other and took the time to reflect on those they had lost over the years. In an especially sweet moment, they were serenaded by their past teachers and principal with familiar songs from their childhood.
It was an especially touching experience for Dolly Boland, who had spent almost her lifetime at the school, first as a student, then as a teacher and vice principal, eventually retiring as principal. “I am elated and proud as a student and a teacher,” Boland said, commenting on how “loving and warm” her students had remained in their adult years. Boland said the school's commitment was always to the development of well-rounded individuals. “It’s not all academics,” she said, as students were required to participate in sports, as well as religious studies. Boland expressed a feeling of satisfaction that the values she had passed on as an educator were beneficial to them and how proud she was to see how many professionals the class of ’82 had produced. “Some of them are engineers, doctors and lawyers,” she gushed. One past students, Vetra Samaroo, commented on her kindness. “She pampered us. We were like her children.”
Sharing in the memories of her years at Tunapuna Presbyterian, proud alumnus Justice Margaret Mohammed reminisced on the dedication of her teachers, recalling that her experiences at the school were “positive” and something she draws on even now. Past teacher Lynette Kokaram, who had taught at the school for 18 years, said at the time, everyone was from the same area which contributed to the school feeling like a family, its own internal community. “They came from mostly lower income families, but they had good hearts,” Kokaram said, adding that it was “humbling” to know that the students thought so highly of her and the other member of staff.
In his speech, James Razak urged his former students to continue the work the teachers at Tunapuna Pres had started. “You are who we look to, to propagate the teachings we imparted to you,” he said. “You are now parents with children and grandchildren of your own to look after…pass on the knowledge learnt under our tutelage to the next generation.”