The St Vincent Grammar School (SVGS) will be back on top again!
This is the promise made by Hugh Colin Sam, headmaster of the all-boy secondary school, at the institution’s 114th anniversary Thanksgiving Service held yesterday at the Kingstown Methodist Church.
Sam was in a celebratory mood as he reminded the boys that there is no other secondary school in the country that has celebrated 114 years or that can boast that all the nation’s prime ministers were past students.
He also praised the 2022 graduating class for their 91 per cent pass rate in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations, which returned the school to the number two position in the nation.
The last time the school placed second was in 2019. In 2020, they were fourth overall, falling to sixth position in 2021.
“Over the last couple years prior to this one, we were not at the apex position that we are supposed to be. But this year, only one school beat us, our sisters (the Girls’ High School), but we would accommodate them, right?”
The headmaster highlighted that this year, the school achieved 100 per cent passes in 15 of the 24 subjects the students sat at CSEC.
He was particularly pleased that among the 100 per cent passes were English Language and English Literature and referred to those who speak about male marginalization.
“Our boys are reading and our boys are understanding. Give the school another round of applause please.”
“We will be back on top again!” Sam promised.
The headmaster told the boys that as a school of excellence, they must be excellent in how they walk, talk and comport themselves in public.
Although the school year started a week late and there have been some challenges, he reminded the boys of the school’s motto – ‘Per Aspera Ad Astra’ which means ‘Through rough ways to the stars’.
“So it does not matter what circumstances we are facing now, we have some challenges, but we are operational and we are going to make it and we are going to do excellently.”
The school’s core values are ‘respect’, ‘integrity’, ‘discipline’, ‘dedication’, ‘excellence’ and ‘responsibility’.
The headmaster opined that if the boys live by those core values, “that 91 per cent … can rise … right to 100 per cent.”
He told the boys that taking the number one position is within their grasp.
“You guys did not come to the grammar school because you are not bright.You were the top performers…. So scoring high is not a thought; it is not a figment of your imagination; it is not something that is imaginary; it is something that is attainable; it is something that we can sustain because we are a school of excellence.”
Minister of Education Curtis King, himself a former headmaster of the school endorsed Sam’s remarks while congratulating the boys on their performance.
“The trajectory is upwards. Let us continue to go up. Students, there are a lot of great opportunities awaiting you out there. So, let us put in the performance now and reap the benefits after,” the minister said.
The feature address at the Thanksgiving Service was given by Chad Greaves, senior pastor at The Open Bible Standard Church and the joint valedictorian of the class of 2008.
He told the congregation that life can get “extremely scary” for boys and men, although they may not admit it to their friends.
He said the sole purpose of the SVGS cannot be just for good grades. “Good grades can be part of it, but never the sole purpose,” the pastor said, adding that the institution was established to help save the lives of the young men in the nation.
“Our nation needs men who will rise up and say enough is enough; who would become surrendered to the power of Almighty God; who will be passionate to be their brother’s keeper and refuse to sit idly by and allow their brother to suffer and fall; young men who would say ‘my brother we will hold on together’.”
According to Greaves, the SVGS was established to facilitate such a brotherly unity and development.
Earl Bennett, a representative of the school’s Alumni Association gave brief remarks; the opening prayer was delivered by past student Kelron Harry, senior pastor at the Church of the Nazarene; Pastor Michael Sayers, also a past student gave the blessing.
The Gospel was read by Claude Samuel, one of the oldest surviving past students. He graduated from the school in 1950.
The first and second readings were read by the headboy and deputy headboy Bradley Alexander and O’Neil Sprott respectively.
Teacher, Randy Boucher was the master of ceremony while the worship service was led by the Inter Secondary Schools and Colleges Christian Fellowship Band.
Following the service, students and staff marched from the church to the school at Richmond Hill accompanied by the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force Band.
The SVGS was established on September 21, 1908 with 13 boys and the first headmaster being F W Reeves of Barbados.
For the 2021/2022 school year, there are 604 boys on roll.