Shock and tears at Lester Vaughan


Today was to be ‘Pride Day’ at the Lester Vaughan

Secondary School.

Instead students and staff were thrown into shock and mourning

when they learned of the death of their principal, Diana Wilson.

There was a still and sullen air on the campus by mid-morning,

by which time all of the students who had turned up for school, had

been dismissed, and classes adjourned for the day.

Parents who accompanied children to school were advised to

take them back home, while two- to three hundred students who

had turned up alone for their regular classes were taken to the

assembly hall where counsellors were made available to them.

In the staff room, there was standing room only as teachers,

some of whom were on leave, were involved in a counselling

session, along with Deputy Principal, Sonja Goodridge, who

addressed them and allowed staff a chance to vent their grief and

share memories. Members of the school’s Board, officials from

the Ministry of Education, as well as past principal, Reverend Ezra

Barker from the Hawthorne Methodist Church and a number of

other ministers of the faith and counsellors, were there to speak

and comfort those who needed it.

Along corridors, those who were still in disbelief spoke in quiet

tones of the woman they will all miss, even as the school was to

celebrate Old Scholar Week this week.

Reports were that Wilson had complained of back pains just

yesterday and had died at home last night.

When a team from Barbados TODAY visited, Chairman of

the Board, Bryden Springer related: “[Diana] loved her children,

her school, and the staff. She had a vision and a mantra which said

that no child should be left unattended. I would like everyone to

remember that. You will be doing a great justice to what she

would have started.

“She was always a tireless worker, someone who would never

shirk from duty, always on-time, one of the first in and probably

one of the last to leave. What we can do in her memory is to

continue her good work and continue to live the Lester Vaughan

dream and by the school’s motto Per Scientiam Adolescimus –

Rooted in Knowledge We Grow.”

Her deputy, Goodridge recalled that they had met even prior

to her tenure at Lester Vaughan, when they were both completing

their Cert. Ed. qualifications.

She said even back then Wilson was a woman who always liked

to be ahead of whatever she had to do, ensuring assignments were

done before time and planning for the future.

“She was always one that would encourage me to apply for

a job. Even when she was applying for deputy, she called me and

told me to apply for the same job. I remember saying to her I

was young, but she said, no, age has nothing to do with it,” said

Goodridge, adding that she had many fond memories of her now

late friend and colleague.

Even apart from their school duties, she said they got to know

each other well.

Wilson, who lived in Brittons Hill, St. Michael, was the mother

of three daughters. She was appointed to the service in September

1983, and was head of department at Harrison College from

February 2000 and took up her assignment as Deputy Principal at

Lester Vaughan around 2010.

She had lost her mother earlier this year, as well as an aunt and

a close friend within recent months.

With the news of Wilson’s passing, the social media Facebook

was abuzz with tributes coming from past and present students.

Among them, Chad Burrowes-Gill, who on the Old Scholars

page said “The news of her sudden passing has ripped a hole in

the hearts of many and thrown an entire extended family into

mourning. We pray that God may comfort all of us in this time and

bring us even closer.”

He further noted that all further activities scheduled for Old

Scholars Week 2013 were cancelled.

In another post, Shauna Paul noted that she “…can’t believe

you are gone…Sigh! I just saw you the another day”, while another

writer lamented “We have lost [a] teacher who was like a mother

to us. Miss Wilson we will miss you.” (RG/LB)

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