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April 5, 2021

St Joseph’s Convent POS – a promising future

St Joseph’s Convent Port of Spain (SJCPOS) celebrated its 185th anniversary of establishment on April 5.

Over the past 40 years, while the physical structure has remained more or less the same, the school continued to be transformed and updated to suit the changing needs of the school community and better equip students to meet the challenges of an ever-changing, digitised world.

The introduction of the Audio-Visual Room and Language Labs in the 70s, gave way in the new millennium to upgraded laboratories, the Multimedia Wing, multimedia classrooms, refurbished Theatre and Home Economics Room and Gym and the installation of air-conditioning in every classroom.

Some recent noteworthy projects are:

2002 – The refurbishment of the Physics Lab.

2003 – The relocation of the Library and the opening of the new state-of-the-art Multimedia Wing.

2004 – The new Computer Room is launched.

2018 – The refurbishment of the Home Economics Room and Theatre.

2019 – The refurbishment of the Gym to the Blue Skies Room.

2019 –  The upgrade of the multipurpose lab.

Academically, the school has excelled over the years and is one of the top schools nationwide in national scholarships, gaining open and additional scholarships in all disciplines: Mathematics, Science, Art, Business, Environmental Science, Modern Languages, Modern Studies, and Information Technology.

The ever-expanding and diverse curriculum offered has seen the introduction of Environmental Studies, Entrepreneurship and more recently, Music at the CAPE level. The school won the President’s Medal in 2003, 2008, 2009 and 2016.

Catering to the holistic development of its students, the school boasts of having as many as 43 clubs and organisations, designed to enhance the life of each child.

In the field of Music, the school choir, besides its participation and many successes over the years in local festivals such as the biannual Music Festival, has competed in many international choir competitions, such as those held in Austria, Italy, and Latvia.

In sport, it was the first Trinbagonian school to represent Cheer Clubs at meets in Orlando. The Dragon Boat Team competed in Toronto, Canada and we have sent teams to the popular Penn Relays in the United States.

In fact, many Convent students have been and continue to be on many national teams, many holding leadership positions, such as captains of these teams.

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Club has attended two international UNESCO conferences in Costa Rica and Argentina.

As part of our many social outreach programmes, we participate annually in the RBC Young Leaders competition and many, many charity projects assisting our neighbours like the Living Water Community and the Bethlehem RC Primary School.

Our students continue to participate in the AmCham (American Chamber of Commerce) Youth Forum and the Mathematics Olympiad. The school also has a Legion of Mary group, a St Vincent de Paul Society Club, and a Prayer Group to continue to nurture the spiritual growth of our young people.

A long and illustrious history, a promising future, SJCPOS, continues to shape, influence, and advance our nation in every sphere.

The school is proud to celebrate its 185th anniversary this year. This auspicious anniversary coincides with 2021 being dedicated by Pope Francis the Year of St Joseph, our patron saint. This dedication was given on the 150th anniversary of the declaration of St Joseph as patron of the Universal Church.

At 185 years, our school is the oldest secondary school in our twin-island republic and remains esteemed for a curriculum that is dedicated to helping young women, and more recently young men, from across Trinidad and Tobago realise their full potential; one that inspires and has produced brilliant alumni of integrity and character.

With each year that a new class enters our SJCPOS gates, we build on the legacy of excellence and nurture unrealised talents and aspirations for a bright future.

Each new student walks in the footsteps of past and sets a path for future generations of young people, laughing through the corridors, becoming part of a sisterhood and a community of cherished memories, and playing a role in building something that is bigger than ourselves.

As we celebrate this year, we are reminded of our motto, Sapientia et Scientia: Wisdom and Knowledge. These values, guarded by our predecessors, continue to guide us today as we prepare future generations of SJCPOS students.

During this year’s celebration, we give thanks to all who have given so generously of their time, efforts, and donations through the years. We recognise the enduring support of the Cluny Board of Management and all the Board members past and present who serve selflessly to ensure the growth and development of our school and thank our current Provincial Superior, Sr Maureen Alexander SJC for her guidance.

This anniversary is a fantastic opportunity not only to take stock of what we have achieved together, but also to look ahead. We champion you to join us on this remarkable journey as we continue to strive for excellence in both performance and service.

With our 185 for 185 Campaign to celebrate this year’s anniversary, the Past Pupil’s Association embarks on further plans for several critical works at the school.

We move forward in faith, hope, and love and ask that you join us in our commitment to securing the best possible learning environment for future generations.

With your continued support, our legacy endures, grows, and thrives for another 185 years—just as we have done since our early beginnings.

Here are some milestones in the school’s history:

  • 1946 – The new school buildings, the ones which exist today, were reopened in January.
  • 1948 – The first girls’ scholarship offered by the Government was won by Corinna Achong, a student of St Joseph’s Convent.
  • 1961 – The first Common Entrance Examinations were held for admission of students in January 1962 when free secondary education was introduced for the first time in Trinidad and Tobago. Up until that time SJC was a fee-paying school which also offered a limited number of ‘exhibitions’ annually. These were the equivalent of scholarships to attend the school.
  • 1966 – The boarding school was closed.
  • 1972 – The three-storey Form 4 and 5 wing was built.
  • 1977 – The last year that the Centenary Hall was part of the school. Thereafter it became the residence of the Sisters.
  • 1986 – Celebrations were held to mark the 150th anniversary of the school.
  • 1990 – The retirement of Sr Paul D’Ornellas SJC as Principal marked the last time a Sister of St Joseph of Cluny held that post at the school. Sr Paul was succeeded by the appointment in 1991 of Melba Pounder, the first lay person to ever be at the helm, herself a past student at the school.
  • 1993 – Another past student, Elizabeth Crouch became Principal of the school, retiring in January 2008.
  • 2008 – Jennifer Annandsingh held the post of Principal until her retirement.
  • 2011 – Another SJC alum, Anna Pounder became Principal.
  • 2016 – Celebrations to mark the 180th anniversary of the school and the 70th anniversary since the completion of the rebuilding of the school after the fire of 1944.

Read part 1 of this story here. 

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