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Surviving the Storms

It was at its best as it flowered in March that year – two lovely, long white orchid blooms; one shoot died back and then another,  leaving one lonely leaf and a ball of dried up roots. In June, it seemed that death was nearing. But after the rains  in August, I had to exclaim:  “the orchid is becoming a mom” and sure it was – in fact it had a pair of ‘keikis’ with their small green leaves and stubby, shiny, whitish roots.  New life had come – in its own time, in its own space, guided by an unseen hand. I  stood and stared in awe at regeneration, recreation, proliferation, renewal  – that act  of multiplication  where one becomes two. 

Ferncourt has had some dark days – the murder of a student that left home to write CXC examinations in 1999, the murder of a student on the compound by another student from another school in 2009 and the altercation and wounding of a group of students on the compound in 2018. On the other hand, the school has had academic successes and won numerous trophies in extra-curricular activities. 

Graduates advanced to make outstanding contributions at the national level: Supreme Court Judge- Horace Marsh, Rear Admiral -Hardley Lewin, President of JHTA Omar Robinson, Dr Cliff Riley- Executive Director of Jamaica Scientific Council, Dr Vincent Riley – well known Cardiologist and Dr John Lindo-Professor of Parasitology, to name a few. 

Internationally, Novlene Williams got medals at the Olympics; Dr Douglas Terrier achieved the rank of Chief Technologist at NASA in the USA and Dr Kerry Ann Mitchell became  a plastic surgeon at  Johns Hopkins Center for Neuroplastic Surgery. 

Ferncourt’s  most recent  and long serving Principal, Rev Lenworth Sterling,   was a past student himself  – another example of regeneration. 

Returning to the two new orchid shoots, by snipping the connecting  cord and resting the detached young roots in an environment in which they can thrive, I enable the emergence of two new plants from one . I leave it there and surrender their future  to a higher power. 

 I am reminded  of a hymn:

We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land,
but it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand;
he sends the snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain,
the breezes and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain.
All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above,
then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord for all his love

Like new pupils, these new orchids will grow and become phenomenal, if the conditions are right. Enabling conditions in a school environment is a small ask from those who have gone before. Support the book (Ferncourt High School 1938-2018 – A Story of Enterprise, Access and Opportunity),  support the keikis for love of school, support the school as a gift for the future. 

Let students know , as Wilma Rudolph did: 

Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” 

There will be more tragedy and there will be more disappointment. However, we can remember that :

“once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” — Haruki Murakami

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