Hilarian History: Celebrating 95 Years of Excellence!

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It’s that time of year again when many Hilarians feverishly search for the phone numbers and email addresses of past classmates to wish them Happy St. Hilary’s Day. Some nostalgically flood social media feeds with images of their well-worn ties, BAHS rings, and pictures of their adolescent selves, or find their own ways to celebrate memories of beloved high school. Social media has turned us all into historians – we preserve our stories one tweet, one status at a time, sometimes not even realizing the wealth of knowledge we create. For us, history is easy to create, but over the years, imagine what we have lost.

We are lucky to capture and share the memories of alumni who have seen St. Hilary’s Day celebrated through past decades.


We all arrived at school  for the start of the school day, 7.55am. The register was taken, and we lined up in forms for the walk to All Saints Anglican Church. It was amazing how people stood on the sidewalks as we walked past, seemingly as proud of us as we were of ourselves. After the service, we walked back to school, had refreshment, and were dismissed for the day. The school was wholly private at the time, so schedules were set by the board and the Principal. I recall excitement over the walk, and the half day.
In the 1960s and even before, there was a Communion Service held in the Chapel at 6am on the morning of St Hilary’s Day. A student or two from every class was either selected or volunteered to attend said service. The service was also attended by past students.
This mural was commissioned in 1970 by Miss Stephanie Shurland, then principal of Bishop Anstey High School (Trinidad).
Photo credit: Ralph and Vera Baney
CATHERINE CUMBERBATCH: Home Economics Teacher, 1968-1992
When I returned to BAHS as a teacher, the school no longer went to All Saints (size of student body having increased) instead the parish Priest and the Bishop came to the school hall.  After the service, we had a long break into lunch, and classes as usual in the afternoon.  By that time the school was no longer private, but state assisted, so we had to fit in to Government schedules. During that long break, the Principal hosted a “coffee morning” for specially invited guests.  This was catered for by the Home Economics department.

My fondest memory is linked to the 50th anniversary celebration of the school in 1971. To mark the event, a service and grand reception were planned. The Principal consulted with me about the service of refreshments.This time, the entire student body, parents, staff and spouses, the clergy and special invited guests would be invited! She was considering outside caterers, but I suggested that the Home Economics 5th form students were capable. Eventually she agreed, and planning began. We were preparing for over 1000 people! Needless to say time management was key. The girls worked well, and we even got volunteers from the sixth form.

On the actual day, the Principal visited the Home Economics lab several times, and just before lunch time. She said ” Mrs Cumberbatch, I do not want you to miss the service.  You must attend the service”. Perhaps she felt that food preparation would be ‘going down to the wire’. School dismissed around 1 PM for staff and students to go home and be back by 4 PM for the reception. Those who lived too far away remained at school. I brought clothes to change, included in that bag was a curling iron to do my hair. However, around 1 pm, considering I was not allowed to miss the service, I ran out to Frederick street to a store called Galy’s, where I purchased an Afro wig. Back at school, final preparation and laying out of items continued, and all servers, ushers were briefed.  At 3.30 pm, a fully dressed Principal came to the door, and said, ” remember, I expect you seated with your form in 20 mins”, a distinct look of doubt on her face. As she left the room, I let the girls know that they were now in charge to plate the final items, and to ensure that no unauthorized persons entered the room. I dressed in the upper staff lounge, and donned my wig.  Within seconds of my return to the Home Ec room, as I was dismissing the girls with final instructions re the service plan, the Principal arrived at the door and is asking “where is Mrs Cumberbatch?”
Someone said, “over here, Miss”.
“Where?” said she.
Then, she recognized me , burst into laughter, and said, ” you must be a magician. I never thought you would be ready”.
We all walked up to the hall together, participated in the service, and after, the girls executed first rate service.  After, people were saying “and the food just kept coming and coming!” Whenever I think of that St Hilary’s day, I feel a sense of pride, and remember some very special students.

KHADEIDRA LE GENDRE: Student, 2000 – 2005

As a student, I always looked forward to St. Hilary’s Day. While I attended, there was an annual service, where I always aspired to hit that high note while singing ‘Non Nobis Domine’ (whether I ever did will remain a secret, thanks to the beautiful voices which sung around me). Following the service, the Sixth Form students played an annual cricket match against the teachers. The cricket match was always quite the spectacle – teachers and students donned costumes and used props, and it was always dramatic, amusing and altogether entertaining. There had also been a Miss Anstey pageant, and while I was in Lower School, one of my peers won! I recall such a warm feeling of camaraderie among the class of ’05!
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BAHS St. Hilary’s Day Teacher vs Sixth Form Cricket Match
Photo credit: BAHS website

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BAHS St. Hilary’s Day Teacher vs Sixth Form Cricket MatchPhoto credit: BAHS website

ARIANN DUNCAN: Student, 2004-2011

St. Hilary’s Day is a very unique experience and my classmates and I certainly went all out in terms of planning and celebrating that year [2011]. I think everyone had a great time. Ariann, along with her friends produced this St. Hilary’s Day celebration video in 2011.

Khadeidra’s note: This year, we celebrate ninety-five years of excellence: almost a century of producing the quintessential Bishop’s Girl: who is intelligent, strong-minded, decisive, finds balance between the academic and holistic, and in the spirit of Saint Hilary, is dedicated to social change and willing to take risks for what is important to her. If preserving the oral history of BAHS is important to you, and you’d like to share your favorite memories, please comment below!

P.S: On Saturday 16th January, 2016 there will be a service in honour of our patron saint at All Saints Anglican Church, especially for the alumni of BAHS.



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