Marjorie (Mulchansingh) Laltoo
Address to the Naparima Girls High School Centenary Celebrations, January 2012

Greetings to all who have assembled here on the Centenary of my beloved Alma Mater, Naparima Girls High School. My name is Marjorie Mulchansingh Laltoo. At age 96, I am almost as old as Naparima Girls High School itself, and most likely its oldest surviving former pupil and teacher. My niece-in-law, Dr. Jennifer Yamin-ali, Chairperson of the Committee for Centenary Celebrations, will read a short message from me which comes to you from New Brunswick, Canada, where I have resided for over 40 years.

I came to Naparima Girls High School in 1926 at age 11. In those days of limited travel in Trinidad, many pupils from small villages lived in the Sarah Morton Dormitory on the school premises. I followed my older sisters Laura, Winifred, Carmen, Sylvia, and Claudia, on a full scholarship to Naparima Girls High School which had, by then, become a family institution. My sister, Laura, would go on to become the first woman to hold a PhD in Law on the island, Carmen would have a long career as an educator, and Sylvia would follow a career in nursing. My sister, Claudia, died in a tragic accident at the Dormitory, when the hem of her gown brushed an open fire in the kitchen early one morning.

Miss Grace Beattie was the Principal when I joined Naparima Girls High School, and our Dormitory Matron was the much-loved and respected Amelia Doon Bissessar Adolphus affectionately known as “Miss Doon.” Dorm life forged life-long friendships. My best friends were Avis Rampersard, Elodee Bissessar, and Laura Laltoo whose brother, Ralph, I married in 1949 after spending 16 years of my student and teaching life at Naparima Girls High School living in the Dormitory. By that time, the Principal was Miss Margaret Scrimgeour, who replaced Miss Beattie in 1937.

I am pleased to report that more recently, Carmen’s granddaughter Lisa Carmen Rajkumar-Maharaj, also attended Naparima Girls High School in the 1990's; as did the present Chairperson of the Committee for Centenary Celebrations, Dr. Jennifer Yamin-ali married to my nephew, Roddy. So our family ties to Naparima Girls High School have continued through the years.

NGHS Staff in May 1951
Standing: Sylvia Adhar, Margaret Scrimgoeur, Pat Tiah, Mrs Yisudas, Jamelia Mohammed, Carmen Carter, Miss Munrou, Florine Henry, Agnes Rampersad
Middle: Doreen Winter, Phoebe Lahouri, Marjorie Laltoo
Front: Vilma Meighu, Stephanie Shurland

As a teacher at Naparima Girls High School, I instructed students who went on to make their influence felt, not just at the school level, but across the island and, indeed, throughout the world! I was privileged to have taught a former Principal of Naparima Girls High School, Beulah Meghu, as well as Stephanie Shurland who later became the Principal of Bishop Anstey High School in Port-of-Spain; and Zalayhar Hassanali, former First Lady of Trinidad and Tobago. These are just a few of my young pupils who went on to play defining roles in Trinidadian society, moulding the lives of others for a greater good. I taught at Naparima Girls High School until 1958. In that year, I moved to Port-of-Spain, where I continued my teaching career for another 12 years.

Naparima Girls High School and I remain inextricably linked: the school framed much of my character and key events of my life; and I, in turn, took its influence farther in my values, beliefs, and dealings with others up to the present day. I hereby offer my heartfelt congratulations to Naparima Girls High School in its Centenary. Together, we have witnessed one of the most compelling centuries in history. There is no doubt that this venerable institution will proceed far into the future, building upon the solid foundations laid down by its founders a hundred years ago.

Thank you,

Marjorie Mulchansingh Laltoo
December 2011