Albion Road runs south to north from the Public Road that run east to west from Skeldon Estate to New Amsterdam. Albion Road ends at the factory. The school dam located between the sugar estate manager house and the senior staff housing compound. The dam runs west to east, terminating at the water pump station. School was on the eastern end, next to the water pump station.
The school was a L-shaped two-story building. One wing ran west to east and parallel to the school dam, the other north to south in the direction of Guava Bush and Topoo. At the elbow of the wings was the stairs going up to the second floor. Headmaster Lachmansingh or deputy Ratisingh or Jaipaul would stand at the landing and ring the bell, indicating school classes will be in session. Behind the landing was the acting stage.
The acting stage was multifunctional. Mr. Lachmansigh would stand at the stage and lead us in prayer and scripture reading before classes start. By mid-morning pupils would line up with their tin or enamel cups, walk on to the stage to receive morning nutritious snack: one cod liver oil capsule down the throat, which you had to swallow before you can move forward; two biscuits and a cupful of reconstituted (powder) dry milk. Off then you go to your class and consume. In June, the annual concert for parents and students was on stage. Presentation of the certificate for Perfect attendance, short skits, and singing of patriotic songs led by Nesbitt Changeur were some of the items on the program.
The school was totally fenced in with two gates: one on the north for pupils coming from the estate logy and cottage, Chesney and Kilcoy; the other south for pupils from Guava Bush, Sand Reef and Topoo. Between the north fence, main entrance and the school was the school garden. The west fence separated the school from the CM Presbyterian church (Rev, Bijubilee Singh followed Rev. Sohan were the two pastors I remember. In the northwest corner of the fence between the church and the school was the water fountain with spigots (6).
On the lower level was kindergarten to first standard. There were two classes for each grade/standard. Kindergarten was the only class with its own permanent blackboard a Ms. Sooper (spelling) was one of the kindergarten teachers. The rest had to share one. Each teacher would write on his/her side of the board. On this level was the Handicraft center (Teachers were Sanford, Sukhan and “Kit” Singh. At the back of the Handicraft Center was the Home Economic section, with a Ms. La Rose in charge, for the girls. Boys and girls from J. B, Cropper, Fyrish and #1 schools would come to the Handicraft and Home Economic at Albion CM on their school assigned day.
In June when school was out for the summer, this level was used by the church for Vacation Bible school.
Upper level had all the standard classes starting on the end and ending with the sixth standard classes and the headmaster office on the south end. Three stairs provided access to upper level: main one where the headmaster or deputy would ring the bell, one in the southeast toward the water pump side, and the other along the handicraft center an home economic section ascending to the head master office area.
Boys dressed in Khaki shirts and short pants, girls in white tops and green skirts were expected to inside the school yard when the bell rung. Late comers were line up outside the gate to receive corporal punishment for being late. (No wonder those us who grew up in that era are typically punctual at events). Penmanship was a hallmark – up stroke light and down stroke heavy was the motto. Some claim they can tell an Albion CM student by their handwriting. Older pupils would accompany and protect the little ones to and from school, walking on muddy roads during the two rainy seasons. We washed our feet at the school well before going into the classrooms. We said prayers four times each day: in the morning, a prayer before and after lunch and at dismissal at the end of day. We were to respect our teachers and elders wherever we may be. Failure to do so had consequences at home and school.
Albion CM has taught my generation well – kindness, love, punctuality, respect, responsibility and tolerance. Of my generation I say “Thank you” for being part of my life and bless those who have been called to rest.