In the little neighborhood of Pembroke Hall in Kingston, exists a little school called Pembroke Hall Primary.
My family left Jamaica and moved to the U.S. before I had the chance to attend high school. Pembroke Hall Primary, therefore, is where most of my great memories of attending school in Jamaica took place. (I also attended Old Harbour Primary for one year). This is where I met my first “best friend,” Andrew Walters. Here is where I had my first schoolboy crush on a girl named Gail Scott. Here is where I learned my “times tables.” Here is where I walked home from school with my friends and got chased by dogs. This was the first place I would visit once I started to return to the island during the summer breaks from my elementary schooling in New York. The list of names to whom I dedicated my books, Jamaican on Saipan, and Jamaican in China are the names of my Pembroke Hall Primary schoolmates. I’ve never forgotten them, and for some, I even remember their phone numbers! And so, it was with a feeling of great excitement and nostalgia that I visited for the first time in many years. Here are just a few of the shots from that visit.
The front gate
The sign says:
The following will not be permitted on the school compound:
Rollers in hair
Tight, short shorts
Tight, short dresses/skirts/merina
Uncovered stomach (back and armpit)
Please dress moderately
The school grounds
The water pipes! Everything is right where I left them…ahhhh, yes! No crowds now, but wait until lunch time!
“Excuse me, I’m a past student. Who is the principal of the school now?”
Meet Ms. Norma McNeil, the principal of Pembroke Hall Primary
Chatting about past students, what my teachers are doing now, and the auditorium project.
Ms. McNeil gives me a tour of the grounds and shows me the location of the hoped-for auditorium. In this video, Mrs. McNeil explains the need for funds to continue and complete the construction. There’ve been raffles and food sales to generate the money, but there is still a ways to go. I’ll be helping any way I can. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to help, too!
Pembroke Hall represents the foundation of my education. As such, it is an integral part of the path I took from elementary and high school in the states, my engineering degree at Columbia, my path as an entrepreneur and writer, and ultimately, my freedom as a nomadpreneur! Thank you, Pembroke Hall Primary School!
The banner beneath the logo says: “Only the best is good enough!”
p.s.Ms. McNeil has asked me to visit again on Wednesday to give a short talk to the students. Stay tuned!
UPDATE Sept 10, 2013: I’ve donated a new website to the school!
UPDATE Sept 18, 2020: The donation page is now at https://www.waltgoodridge.com/store/product/pembroke-hall-primary-donation/