Girls’ High School days were happy, happy days for Olive Pollard
April 30, 2010
Girls’ High School days were happy, happy days for Olive Pollard

Much has changed since Olive Pollard left the Girls’ High School 71 years ago. However, memories of her school days are all good ones, as she spoke fondly about her time at the institution from the kitchen of her Dorsetshire Hill home.{{more}}

Pollard, the oldest living able past student of the Girls’ High School resident in St Vincent, will be part of the school’s Torch Relay on May 7, 2010, to mark the launch of celebrations for the school’s 100th anniversary.

“It is an honour for me, which I humbly accepted,” Pollard said about being a part of the torch relay, adding that she was proud of her alma mater’s centenary.

Pollard, or Olive James, as she was known then, recalls being one of twelve students who entered the all-girls institution in 1933. She had previously attended the Belair Anglican School.

At that time, the Girls’ High school was located “where the sanitation building is now”, and its four forms of about 60 students were nestled into the two-storey, three-room building.

It was there, under the leadership of newly appointed Headmistress Laura Smith Moffett, Pollard began her secondary school education. She had received a scholarship from the Kingstown Board and because of her aptitude in subjects like Mathematics and French began school in the second form.

She continued studies in English, French, Geography, Scripture and her favourite subject, Mathematics. “I don’t know, I just enjoyed it!” she beamed. “Still to this day …”, she said flipping through a Sudoku puzzle book, in which most of the puzzles had been completed.

There was also Drill. “Drill was a must!” she added, explaining that Drill was basically exercise sessions in which the first and second formers used dumbbells, while the older students used “clubs”.

Pollard said when she entered school, the school colours were brown and green. Wide Panama hats were adorned with a green hatband, their long sleeved shirts had sailor collars and they wore green and brown ties. It was in 1934 that the uniform colours were changed to blue and silver and the shirt changed to the present design except that it had six buttons at the shirt’s base.

The school moved to its current Richmond Hill location in 1935 when Pollard was in the third form. She became a prefect in the fourth form and remembers that her class, a form two, was easy to manage as it was small and all the girls ‘were on common ground’. Her friends, she added, were like family, who often met in each other’s homes to play games such as drafts.

Not many sporting activities or clubs were popular in her days. However, Pollard took part in netball and tennis, which were compulsory sports, and had private piano lessons.

The houses were originally called Set A and B. Their names changed to Grimble House, Headmistress House and Staff House when the school moved to is current location. Pollard was a member of Headmistress House, which remains her favourite to this day.

She also recalled the teachers at that time who she described as being “all nice”, some of whom include Annie Jackson, Sheila Wall, and Ruby Windebank. She especially remembers the Headmistress Laura Smith Moffet who kept the students in check with strict rules.

“We had to be on time for school. We had to be tidily dressed in our uniforms. We were not to be seen walking anywhere along the pathway with a boy, regardless if it is even your brother,” Pollard reminisced. She added that the school prepared her well for life, but that the combination of the school and her parents working together was important in the process.

After successfully completing her Senior Cambridge exams in Form 5, Pollard left the institution and started teaching, which she did for a while. She then worked at the Government’s Cotton Ginnery until it burnt down. She then worked in the public service until her retirement in 1975.

The 90-year-old Pollard sums up her days at the Girls’ High School as “happy days…until we had to say goodbye. There were a lot of tears on that day,” she admitted. She, however, still keeps in touch with her surviving friends, most of whom are overseas.