THE time I spent at Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (A-Level) was one of the most memorable periods of my life. Reuniting with my old friends from St. Mary’s College and getting to make new ones over the course of two years, while trying to juggle between an emotionally-charged social life and the daily grind of A-Level classes, was a novel experience for me that I won’t soon forget. It was a five-year experience packaged in just two years.
The most breathtaking thing about attending the school was the Morne Fortune environment. There, one is surrounded by so much of the island’s history, and with that an historical ambiance unmatched elsewhere. Combine that with the sight of lush, freshly-cut lawn, the smell of grass, the coolness of the breeze, the freshness of the air, the unparalleled scenic view of Castries, its harbour and the view of the North, while at the same time being able to see as far south as the tips of Mt. Gimie and the Pitons. With all of that, I quickly realised that there could hardly be a better environment for learning.
Being a part of the History class during my time there also added to that experience. I didn’t just read about history — about the great European armies doing battles in faraway lands or even right here in St. Lucia — I saw it: the ammunitions buildings, the tombs of soldiers who died hundreds of years before; soldiers trying to secure the very spot upon which I stood. Why, I even had classes inside barracks and other military buildings, used long ago for such a different purpose. The school dedicated to Sir Arthur Lewis was built upon the ruins of battles fought long ago, battles upon which our nation was built.
Even amongst the constant chatter, which escaped from the gossiping lips of the hordes of students, marching in step to their respective classes, I could not help but hear the silence of the place. It was so easy to ponder life there, immersed in the cool breeze, overlooking the capital, seated behind the CEHI building, away from everyone, away from friends and the drama that was a student’s life at SALCC. Seldom has there been a time in my life when I found more peace, more quiet, more comfort in solitude.
The Laureates were talked about by lecturers keen on impressing upon our minds the importance of their respective legacies. They were discussed, to some degree, even after class. As a Literature student, Sir Derek featured more prominently in my student life than the man for whom the school was named, although I do remember debates held in class about some of Sir Arthur’s quotes; our culture as a nation (and at the time) as a school, was more geared towards Sir Derek Walcott’s field, as opposed to Sir Arthur’s.
Seldom does the Economics field capture the imagination of a people as poetry does, although it does touch their wallets. As a mothered student, such concerns were far from my mind.
The truth is, (and I speak only for myself) Sir Arthur Lewis’ memory, his legacy, his greatness, did not permeate through the school as did its fresh air and beautiful scenery; the history that is etched upon its campus, marked out by the faded ink of war, fought long ago; but it’s difficult to remember with so many years gone by; it’s been over ten years since I attended.
Perhaps it is different now and if not perhaps it will be so in the future. What can be done to make Sir Arthur’s school, one that is a constant reminder of the man, and the impact he has made on the wider society? I do not know the answer to that, but surely it must be something beyond his remains, placed towards the back of the school’s campus.