|Mr. Edison Sookoo, B.A. (Art), Principal
Roving Reporter of NC-Forever (RR):
Mr. Sookoo, sir, congratulations on your appointment as principal. Could you comment on what you might consider to be the foremost priority for Naparima now?
Principal (ES): I believe it to be the need for rebuilding and refurbishing. Existing structures, furniture and equipment need to be upgraded to meet the standards which always should have been displayed at Naparima. The last such undertaking was the inspired work of Rev. Edward Lute, my revered past principal. Building on the past, Rev. Lute, in three years, constructed much of what is Naparima today.
Of course, there has been no new construction on the hill since, a span of some forty years, so it's not surprising that I think it is a time for renewal. There is some indication that the Ministry of Education would support the creation of new classroom space, and we are proposing a new wing for that purpose, to replace the current old dormitory building beside the science lab.
RR: What about the gymnasium and auditorium project?
ES: There were plans for a new gymnasium already in place when I took the office. These are currently under review. I envisage that we will have a new auditorium in the same general location as the old gym, overlooking the playing field, in an east-west orientation. We are reviewing architects' proposals.
There are no plans at present for a gymnasium. However, if the new classroom space is built, the old building where the kitchen was will be demolished. A gymnasium or multi-purpose floor is earmarked for this area.
RR: In a way, it is a shame to see the old wooden buildings disappear, though they have certainly served their time.
ES: Yes. I am thinking of incorporating into the new wing a sort of historical alcove where salient architectural features, such as buttresses and eaves, overhangs, staircases, windows and so on could be reproduced.
RR: What a great idea. Perhaps there would be a hall of fame, as it were, with class photos, historical notes, plaques and so on?
ES: That's another good idea! On the whole, I am very interested in preserving and enhancing the physical surroundings, the broad sculptural landscape as it were. I think these are a positive attribute of the school. We'll certainly continue to keep up the landscaping standards introduced by my predecessor, and will probably do additional things along those lines.
RR: In the academic arena, any changes?
ES: We won't make radical changes, as you are aware of the high degree of success currently being enjoyed in that area. We have, however, abandoned streaming at Form One. We have also re-introduced some arts-oriented subjects which had languished, and we've resuscitated the old literary and debating society. We must also re-think and re-work the computer programme as it should apply to Naparima. We are currently not as advanced in that area as we would like to be. Staffing is a related issue, and there is some indication that we might be allowed to increase our complement by one or two. positions.
RR: Any word to the many alumni of Naparima?
ES: Just a big thank you for the loyal support of that Naparima grads everywhere bestow on their alma mater. A special mention must be made of the very real long-term support given by the Naparima Alumni Association in Toronto. Support like that makes a positive difference.
RR:Thanks for talking with us. Best wishes in your efforts as principal.
ES: Thank you.
Principal Edison Sookoo grew up in San Fernando, and attended Naparima College from 1955 to 1962. He studied art at Sir George Williams University in Montreal, and then returned as a master to Naparima College.
After serving for a number of years in various administrative and teaching positions, including vice-principal, Mr. Sookoo succeeded Mr. MacKenzie as principal upon the latter's retirement in 1996.
Mr. Sookoo continues to teach Art to the lower forms, and is also active in drama and cultural productions in San Fernando, and in various extra-curricular expeditions of the school and Presbyterian church.
Mr. Sookkoo on school pride (video):