September 20, 2020

Cayman High School 49ers reunion

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Potluck supper at the Seafarers Hall, GT.

The “49ers” – a group of some of the first students who attended the Cayman Islands High School that first opened its doors in 1949 – got together to meet and exchange memories with one another.

The first weekend meeting, over fried fish and fritters, was on Friday night at the Grapetree Café, Coe-Wood Beach in Bodden Town. Founder of the 49ers, Joan Wilson was there:

“I started it in 1991 or 1992,”she said. “The idea of it was to keep all my school friends from the Cayman Islands High School together. It was the first high-grade school – the other one was American, but this one was on the British side of teaching…as my poem says, ‘geometry, algebra and proper English.’”

“The school originally started behind the library, in the old American huts that were there. The American navy was posted here in the war in 1942, and all those buildings were still there when the school started in 1949,” she added.

Miss Olive Miller who was one of the very first teachers at the Cayman Islands High School celebrates her birthday.

“I left the Triple C School, which was the American school run by the Chapel Church of God and went to this one when I was about 14, because it was run by the Presbyterian ministers. I graduated from there in 1952,” she said. “We were the first graduating class.”

Although Ms. Wilson has been organising the reunions for several years, recently others have helped. Liz Schofield helped to organise the reunion this year. She has a special link with the school’s beginning. “My father (John Gray) was the principal of the Cayman Islands High School in 1949,” she said.

“What we do is we have a group of us who get together to organise it. Joan started it off, and then in 1994, we started inviting friends from overseas. Normally classes in schools have 20-year and 10-year reunions, but we can’t wait for those – we have one every year.

“It’s a group that started off for those attending high school in 1949, right up till 1964. Anybody who went to school ‘behind the library,’ is part of the high school reunion… in 1964, when the school moved up to Walkers Road, (by that time) the government had taken it over from the church,” Ms. Schofield said.

On Saturday evening, at the Seafarers Hall in Prospect, the group got together again, this time with the dual purpose of celebrating the 90th birthday of one of the very first teachers at the school, Ms. Olive Miller. During the evening, Ms. Miller was presented with a framed photograph of the moment when she met Her Majesty the Queen, during the Queen’s last visit to the Cayman Islands.

Ms. Wilson also read out a poem she had written, in Ms. Miller’s honour.

The meeting on Saturday night contained some very notable and distinguished ex-Cayman High School students, including ex-politicians, Mr. Norman Bodden and Mr. Truman Bodden.

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