Seventy-five years to the day after Triple C School first opened with just one teacher and seven students, hundreds of people filled the Family Life Centre in George Town to celebrate the school’s legacy and contributions to the islands.
Attendees at last Thursday’s banquet included current and former faculty and students, as well as Education Minister Tara Rivers and renowned southern gospel singer Abby Paskvan.
In separate interviews, alumni talked about the school’s influence on their lives and faith, sharing stories about the early days of Triple C. “When my mother and father found out this school was starting up, they were most happy to send me there,” said Georgette Ebanks, who was in the first graduating class of 1947 with six other students.
“My parents sacrificed to send me to Triple C, and it was a most wonderful, awesome experience,” she said, adding that her father had worked hard to put her through school. “He went away during WWII. He was on a ship that was carrying supplies to do with the war and his ship was torpedoed. I was 16 and my brother was not even 10 years old then.”
Ms. Ebanks started going to the school in 1941.
When it was founded, Triple C was the first private school in Cayman to provide both elementary and secondary education.
Pat Kirkconnell was the first of three generations in her family to attend Triple C.
“Those were the days you had to go to school by boat,” she said, referring to when she started at the school at age 13. “Our teachers, Mr. and Mrs. Hastings, were exceptionally great teachers and people,” she said. “Their Christian ways and the way they treated everyone – it was a good atmosphere throughout the school.”
Maureen Bodden, another alumna, started going to Triple C when she was 6 years old, when the school was located where Bayshore Mall sits today.
“We didn’t have air conditioning,” she said. “We had mosquitoes and sand flies, but we loved it. We knew hard times in the olden days, but they were the good days.”
Ms. Bodden was still attending Triple C when it changed locations to Hospital Road in 1963. She graduated in 1964.
The school has been at its present location since 1997.
Triple C says it provides “a quality Christian education,” and it was that education which former student Alson Ebanks credits for turning his life around at a young age.
“I was out of school at 15, but I really had nothing to show for it,” he said. “So after working for a year, I said ‘You know, I really don’t want to do this forever.’ And at the age of 17 they admitted me to Triple C, and I buckled down for the first time in my life.
“What I think was most significant was the way in which the staff, the principal, took a personal interest in me and in the other students,” he said. “They assisted us at every level – we socialized together, we played together, but, of course, we studied together …. Because it was a Christian school, they wanted to make sure we got involved in our spiritual nature. That wasn’t my particular inclination at that point in time, but they facilitated that. As a result of that, in my junior year, I became a Christian.”
Mr. Ebanks, emcee for the evening, attended Triple C from 1967 to 1969.
He said it’s important for current students to “recognize they have opportunities now that we did not have. Take advantage of this great opportunity.”
Education Minister Rivers addressed her former classmates and teachers, saying, “Triple C is truly a school that is a pioneer. You are a pioneer in the Cayman Islands education system.
“Triple C has been a leader in providing the means for Cayman’s children to be educated. As a daughter of a former Triple C student, and as a former Triple C student myself, and now as minister for education, I know that I am grateful for Mr. Orrie and his sister Ms. Ena Merren – they had a vision for this school, and they made it a matter for prayer.
“Undoubtedly, Triple C has helped shape Cayman into the country that it is today. It has provided a positive influence on both education and Christian values for our people,” Ms. Rivers said.
“As minister of education, I would like to thank Triple C for all of its academic and spiritual contributions over the past 75 years, especially to our young people, our present and our future.”