Reminiscing about school days gone by, enjoying great food and reconnecting with long lost friends all made for a memorable reunion for former students of the Cayman Islands High School.
The Cayman Turtle Farm was abuzz on Saturday, July 9, as Ivan and Mabel Farrington hosted “Ivan’s Canteen Reunion” for Cayman Islands High School students who attended from September 1973 to June 1987. Starting in 1973, the Farringtons provided meals for students at the Cayman Islands High School, cooking in the school’s cafeteria and via a food truck operated by Mr. Farrington.
In a nod to the old school days, everyone was treated to Mr. Farrington’s traditional canteen meals, with a choice of either white rice, chili, mac and cheese and potato salad, or barbecue chicken and rice ‘n’ beans, mac and cheese and potato salad.
“It was a wonderful evening that took you down memory lane,” said former student and reunion committee member Eziethamae Bodden, who helped put together the event along with fellow organizing committee members Crafton Ebanks, Tommy Ebanks, Melodie, Lana and Laurie Farrington, Joelle McCrae and Sabrina Powell.
First opened in 1949 by government school inspector and Church of Scotland missionary Rev. George Hicks, the Cayman Islands High School was operated by the church until 1964. In that year the Cayman Islands government took it over, operating it as a grammar school, as a companion school to the Secondary Modern technical school.
In 1970, the two schools were combined. Due to increasing enrollment, an additional school, the Cayman Islands Middle School, was opened in 1979. In 1992, the Cayman Islands High School was renamed John Gray High School, and the Cayman Islands Middle School became George Hicks High School.
The evening featured a packed program that elicited laughs and maybe even a few nostalgic tears on occasion.
As guests entered, they were greeted with decorations in the school colors of white, yellow and blue, and many eagerly queued up for the chance to sign the guest book that, over the evening, filled up with more than 550 names.
“From the photos taken over the course of the evening, we see many people there that are not on the sign-in register books, and Cayman Turtle Farm confirmed about 700 had passed through the gates,” said Ms. Bodden.
Catherine Tyson and Laura Young served as the evening’s emcees, and the ceremonial elements kicked off with the presentation of a plaque of appreciation to the Farringtons on behalf of all the students.
Along with a prize drawing, special presentations, as well as remarks from the Farringtons, the gathered alumni enjoyed watching a slideshow chronicling the characters and events of their former school days.
“In attendance we had persons who have chosen many fields as careers, including the head of the Civil Service, Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, and politicians like the Deputy
Leader of the Opposition Bernie Bush, MLA Wayne Panton and Minister Tara Rivers,” said Ms. Bodden.
“Other careers represented included doctors, lawyers, civil servants, CEO’s, teachers, managers, bankers, entrepreneurs, businessmen and women, administrators, executives, environmentalists, law enforcement officers, journalists, tourism professionals, auto mechanics, and boating, construction and landscaping professionals.”
The party continued into the night with entertainment from the Back Beat Band featuring Chuck Haylock, Astor Ebanks, Blake Hurlston and Henry Leslie.
Ms. Bodden noted that going by the sign-in registers and photos, the classes with the most representatives were the Class of 1977 topping the list, followed by the Class of 1984 and the Class of 1982. Each year group donated desserts, with the classes coming up with imaginatively decorated cakes for the occasion.