The Giants of 92

This story is about a group of year group secondary school intake that haven’t met in twenty-five years but thanks to technology and the bond that is created when chance throws two or more people together, they still get together in a reunion. The year is 1987 and it is a hot sunny day in September. The gates of one the most prestigious schools in Ghana is besieged by parents and their wards as today is the arrival day for the fresh intake of matriculating students for the year. The atmosphere when is drive into the school is that of a solemn sense of abandonment, a potpourri of emotions sweeps across the environment from a mild sense confusion to utter amazement at the landscape of the school. For the parents and wards who are visiting the school for the first time it all looks like a scene from a fairy movie with everybody milling about and those who had already gone through the process of registration sitting around with their wards just talking animatedly. For the admitting officers, this is not new. They have seen this many many years and every time it’s the same old thing. Nothing changes much. Parents bring their wards to the school and first they make enquiries about the procedure for registration and then meticulously follow instructions and then when they are done they go around the school looking at the view and later sit down and that’s when the verbal advice column begins with emphasis of upbringing at home. For the students, we look round and we look at each other looking spiffy in our khaki trousers and white shirts neatly tucked in. You were walking with your parents but you kept looking around you and over your shoulder hoping and expecting to see if you already knew any of the boys who were invariably your mates. The other thing too was that you had no idea what to expect and the anticipation tied up like knots in your stomach sending you into autopilot mode such that even though you were walking with your parents or guardians and hearing them talk, half of what they were saying was just blowing over your ears like a silent breeze you didn’t even feel. But hey, the landscape of the school was one that constantly made an impression on every student being admitted into the school. Very soon the moment of truth comes when it is all over and after registration your parents have to leave but not before you get that long pep talk. Mothers are the ones to hug long and weep that for most of the admitted students this is the first time they are leaving home and the comfort of the parents’ bosom. Indeed, inasmuch as we don’t think about it then, but rather in hindsight, it the beginning of a new chapter in the lives of every single one of these matriculating students. They are going higher on in life in a higher education, they are going to learn new plenty new things, make new friends and associates, new life skills and for a school like Ghana Secondary Technical School a lot of us are going to learn how to survive on what you have whether material or innate and hone our skills to use in this line of survival. In the evening after admission where we have been cooling down in the dorms the headmaster of the school calls an assembly of all the admitted students and formally welcomes us to the institution and impress on us how much of a privilege it is to be a student of the school. The best part of the speech is when he says that we should look around us for today a bond has been formed that will depend on each student present to be forged and it can only get stronger as they years wear on. Admittedly we were too young to understand this particular admonishing. Heck most of us were barely teenagers when we were admitted into the school. The headmaster then requests for a cane but contrary to what we are thinking he lets us form a long circular queue with the shortest persons in front. Everybody is baffled at what is going to happen and it is pretty interesting to look at the farthest ends of the circular arrangement and pretty hilarious the prepubescent smallish students barely three-foot-tall and looking like infants are in the front of the queue and also that the biggest boys are found at the extreme end. For an education system that was phasing out when we were admitted into the school, most of the older boys were coming out of the apprenticeship in the middle school so pretty older and long past puberty. Headmaster then walks around with cane stick in hand and starts distributing the classes in alphabetical order from Form 1A to Form 1D. Obviously with a system of class selection like means that the smallest end up in one class and the biggest in one class too. The ingenuity of the class demarcation system is lost on all of us until we become old enough to think it through. Class system is not by who is smarter than who or via an interim assessment test but it ensured that students of the same physical size ended up bonding closer together with each other as they bonded with the rest of their mates. Invariably however we learnt to not only harness or own individual strengths but also depend on the strengths of others where we were lacking individually. The smallest ones, usually good with academics, learn by rote and the biggest ones best with physical activity especially manual labour and including sport, learn by experience. Collaboration was ingrained in us early with this system of just class stratification. Throughout the years, like everything else in life being transient, it was pretty plain that not all of us were going to be at the finishing line. Along the line we lost some of our colleagues to the icy hands of death but their memories and the laughter we shared still lingers on and every time we meet we celebrate knowing them and respect that they are in Heaven looking out for us. Furthermore, the years have been good too and the class is spread all over the world. Thanks to social media and technology, we have been able to keep the camaraderie and friendship and keeping tabs on each other. Social media provided the platform to decide to plan and stage a reunion at the 108th Speech and Prize giving day which marks exactly 25 years for the graduating class of 92 but then there had to be a decision to do something memorable and not just attend the ceremony and leave the alma mater. It was decided that both teaching and non-teaching staff that were around during our intake be rewarded for shaping us into who we had become as adults. The gesture was also to create awareness to the staff that their efforts over the years do not go unnoticed but one day definitely they will be rewarded. This awards ceremony was done as a prelude to the main prize giving and the atmosphere was charged. Seeing the old teachers and having them opening their mouths in awe about how some of us have changed and grown into fine adults and then the best part of getting to call them by their nicknames we created for them and getting away with it was the best part. Back in the day how dare you call your teacher by his nickname but here we were not being treated as students anymore but as equals and laughing and tapping each other on the forearm and the back. This was a new high for some of us. In recognition and appreciation of this awards ceremony one of our most prominent teachers commented that the gesture was ‘highly unprecedented and dangerous’. Knowing his knack for eccentric drama we could only fathom that he meant ‘dangerous’ in his own good way and slang. The awards ceremony out of the way it was time to have fun. This was a homecoming of sorts and as many people as could make it were expected to and it was interesting that inasmuch as not many of our school mates could make it, those who did had mad fun. Throughout the weekend, grown men who were once young boys relived stories of myriads of events with relation to how we survived the school system and made it through till we completed. There were stories of incidents right from the gate and the way past the alleys in the front and back of not only the dormitories and classroom blocks all the way to Down Coast. Listening to the stories felt like the school had been placed into pieces of five-meter quadrants like the new Ghana Post GPS codes. Every inch of space in that quadrant has a story. The best stories however were the ones involving the teachers and that were recounted at the awards ceremony. Pretty sure some of the current students present must have found some of the stories incredulous. Like the story of a certain housemaster who asked for impeccable details of stolen items in order to help locate them and if it was money that was stolen, the complainant had to provide the serial numbers of the money stolen otherwise there was nothing he could do to help. Honestly there are too many stories to recount and each person coming for the homecoming, right from walking through the gates of the school, or driving for that matter, until the moment he laid eyes on his mates who had come earlier already had the memories playing in their heads and a very interesting cunny smile on his face. Somebody drives in and even before he got down from the car there are curious looks as to who it is and he gets down with a wide grin on his face hoping to recognize any of the curious onlookers too. Recognizing a mate became a trait and an adept skill during the homecoming weekend because not being able to recognize who you were addressing sounded pretty much embarrassing but luckily comrades stood in groups and helped each other out with their own verbal facial recognition software. One incident comes to mind when a fellow’s roommate joins the party late and his cabin bunk mate decides to welcome him with ‘ponding’ and after much laughter and hugs they disperse only for him to ask if the same person who he’s been hugging and backslapping was the same as his bunk mate. Well, it is to be expected especially when that same bunk mate is not the four-foot cross eyed geek you used to know but a six foot plus 95kg free spirited social animal. It is evident that the school that we left twenty-five years ago definitely won’t be what we expected to come to unlike any of those European schools that retain traditions to a coded tee. Recently with the increasing numbers in population and also pressure on education, the school has been crowded and the dormitories and facilities overstretched. It has become imperative that old students pitch in to provide infrastructure and it is commendable that the 92-year group has also gotten on the trail. The homecoming weekend just wasn’t about seeing the school we all love and walking it grounds. Meeting each other was crazy fun and we will each carry the memories till eternity but then let us remember our alma mater in our prayers and support her in the little ways we can so we can leave the legacy that our forebears left us to our descendants too. Pretty interesting to know that some of our comrades already have progeny in the school. Pretty commendable and admirable. As we have marked a remarkable year, we pray that we continue to have strength to tell people only the good things about the school and what it has helped shape us to be as adults. We didn’t just go to secondary or high schools to study but we formed bonds that have become everlasting. That is the essence of education that we need to inculcate into our children that school is not always about only the books but also the networking and the associations we form whilst we are in school. Educate the next generation to see the world as such and we will realize the dream of a better world. Like I always say it begins with YOU!! Long live high school reunions..

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