Welcome to my GBSS Hostel blog

This blog is based on the book: “The Grenada Boys Secondary School Hostel – Reminiscing on a boarding school life in Grenada” by Dr. Winston J. Phillips (2009).

Boarding schools or Hostels come in many forms. One form may cater to the whole school population where the students are all boarders. In another form, such schools may cater only to so-called “difficult” kids. The GBSS Hostel was the boarding arm of a secondary school providing a home for rural boys, a very small percentage of its full population. Whatever the format, boarding schools have generally been renowned for their positive impact on personality development and outcomes.

The book is about recognition, and about saying ‘Thanks’ for an educational and life experience at the Grenada Boys Secondary School Hostel in which I, the author and others were grounded during our adolescent lives. The book is also about sharing a piece of Grenada’s educational history with current generations, another taste, as it were, of Grenada and the Caribbean.

The Hostel was ‘Grenada’s best kept educational secret’, shining in academic performance as well as in Sports; and with its boys moving on to excel in their various chosen work disciplines. The key to Hostel life was discipline – in study, in play, and in other aspects of social life. The relationship to Hostel obligations was without a baggage of written rules. The Hostel had only one written rule: ‘A breach of common sense is a breach of Hostel rules’.

The Hostel experience was one which provided the boys with opportunities with which they could purify their own ‘base metals’ into ‘polished gems’. The personal development process was one “of character and personalities unfurling under the offerings of the Hostel. I found a natural comparison in what happens with a nutmeg tree, no stranger to Grenada, as it reveals its treasures of nutmeg and mace. The tree bears a pod which is closed and green when immature. If the pod and its contents are no good, it wrinkles while green and falls to the ground where everything rots. As pods mature they grow in size, they turn yellow and progressively split in two halves to reveal bright red mace ensconced on a dark shiny nut. The open pods then fall to the ground from where they are picked up and another journey begins. Such was my Hostel experience”. The comparison is immortalized in the words of one Hostel Boy, Leon Wells (d): “So many of us came to the Hostel as brash, crude, `ignorant’, unhewn base metals, and left as polished gems.”

So, WELCOME to My Boarding School Blog, offering an opportunity to discuss issues related to the GBSS Hostel, and indeed to the impact of boarding schools all over the world.

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7 Responses to Welcome to my GBSS Hostel blog

  1. Looking back in retrospect, we can all appreciate why the GBSS Masterclasses “…. transformed adolescent boys into “polished gems”. They were men of moral, spiritual, and intellectual integrity. Qualities ourn current leaders must model so that future generations of Grenadians can take a look back and reminisce as well.

    Yes technology and culture and society change, but at the core of our nation, our moral and spiritual integrity must always be the underpining factors that will carry on to generation and generation to come. This is how legacies are made.
    Remember Grenada. Ask not what your country can do for you but, what are you going to do for your country? [JFK]

    • bobby says:

      I fully agree with your sentiment about moral and spiritual integrity. Without those virtues, organizations and societies flounder and fail, even if for the time being things seem to be going OK. I have always said that the balance has been on the positive side, which is why our societies continue to progress. My view is that we humans are all ‘advancing souls’. This means any legacy left to us (or that we leave) must involve seeing both the plusses and the minuses. One of the reasons for writing the book is exactly what you say – so that the present and future generations can look back and check one of the ‘beacons marking the way’ (GBSS School Song). Those beacons are, after all, their only real points of reference in examining and evaluating themselves, even though communication has opened up the world.

  2. I assume I could find it on Amazon.com, I just got wind of it when I visited bigdrum nation.org. I am a Convent girls from St. Andrew’s and I know lots of friends who attended the hostel. Lots of “country boo-boo”, {that’s how town people referreed to people from the ‘contry} but who are medical doctors today. e.g. Keith J. MD.
    GBSS is a historical beacon and its history must be preserved! Way to Go Grenadians
    I am lovin’ it!

    • bobby says:

      Did you get a copy of the book? I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think of it. As mentioned, the Hostel was Grenada’s best kept educational secret. After reading the book, a friend from a sister OECS country with whom I studied at UWI (Mona and St.Augustine) remarked that he now understands why Grenada used to get ten Federal Scholarships while his country got only two. The book and the many professional outcomes are not only part of GBSS history, but also of Grenada’s history.

  3. Alex Pascall says:

    For the many of us who have been lucky to attend the GBSS and even better for those who were Hostel Boys, Dr Phillips has given us a mirror to peep through the past, to add our own memories to boost what he has already placed on record. What we need to desperately add now are some of the pictures taken during our time at the school and hostel. The Sylvester’s-Dighton and his brothers I am sure would hold a good collection as their father was a professional photographer.

    Roland Ogilvie gave me one with a few of the masters and hostel prefects; apart from that I only have one other with me at sports day in Queens Park. There were a few others who often took pictures of the setting of the sun, I believe Mc Auley was one of those who loved nature scenes. Otto George and a few of the masters would have taken some from the Pierre on swimming competitions.

    If we add a storyline to the pictures this will be the making of another historical record which will enhance the sales and importance of what Dr. Phillips has already done. It may also interest the current students of the GBSS to understand the wealth of what we received, so that they can do a comparison of their lives to ours.

    I will love to see pictures of Naimool and Farquah, Naimool for his outfits, Farquah for his deep voice and sense of humour: “Pascasll stand on the desk”, yes sir, ” I said stand, not talk, now repeat after me, a fools mouth, is his destruction”. Those were the moments I dreaded in case ‘Sackies’ was on the balcony looking out. “Pascall” Sir, “What are you”? A fool sir”, “Louder, louder, louder”. By this time tears are pouring down one’s cheek.

    Those days were tuff, but nothing in comparison to what teachers are going through with the change in generations.
    I look forward to reading some more comments from the old boys, time for us to dust off the treasures and give them life for others to realise what a great school we came from, who we were and where we are today, some of it must inspire others.
    La La Gay

    • papalee says:

      Lalagay,
      I would love readers to send me pictures of GBSS or the Hostel which I wll post in the Gallery section of the blog. You know, even those comments we thought embarrssing when applied to us at school or Hostel had their lessons for us. I quoted Mr. Naimool’s in the book: “Phillips, it is better to remain silent and to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt”. Very embarassing when first said; a guide later on; and eventually a path to my self-realization. Today I say, “I will open my mouth and ask or state what I think because there are no stupid/foolish questions; only questions born of ignorance or misunderstanding”. In the normal course of things the latter guidelines are permissable paths to learning.

  4. biggles says:

    Dr. Phillips (Bobby, Papalee) has captured and shared a historical gem. The GBSS hostel was one of the main ingredients of the legendary GBSS. As a student of the famous school, I viewed with envy the Hostel mystique. The boys were well disciplined and demonstrated that in their scholastic achievements, their athletic dominance and their social graces. Every GBSS alumnus must read the book and share it with relatives and friends.

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