It is recorded that in the 1800s, a boys’ school by the name of St. George’s College was run on the ground floor of the building which housed the Archbishop of Port-of-Spain and which was later owned by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny. This College was closed in 1858. The Sisters recognized the need for a school for young boys and as such opened one on the grounds of the Convent. This school later became known as “MOTHER LYDIA’S SCHOOL”.
The school was a legend and heritage. It was named after Sister Lydia Aird, a Sister of St. Joseph of Cluny, who, after her religious profession in December, 1899, was immediately given charge of the boys’ section of St. Joseph’s Convent. There she remained in full control and undisputed right until 1965!
As the girls’ section of St. Joseph’s Convent expanded, space was needed for extension and there was the question of closing down the boys’ section. In 1963, a property across the road from the Convent on Abercromby St. was purchased and renovated as a Junior School. It served two separate entities – a school for Mother Lydia’s boys who would go to St. Mary’s College, and a school for the girls of pre-secondary level, who hoped to be admitted to St. Joseph’s Convent.
In 1965 Mother Lydia retired, but retained close and loving relations with the school. The two schools amalgamated in 1964, and in May 1967 registered as “Maria Regina Grade School”. From 1964, it was under the able and devoted guidance of Sr. Mary Margaret Maloney, our first Principal, who won herself the collaboration and esteem of teachers and parents alike.
After forty-three years of dedicated service to the school, Sr. Mary Margaret Moloney retired in 2007. That very year, her hard work was recognized when she was awarded the Chaconia Medal (Silver) for “long and meritorious service to Trinidad and Tobago in the sphere of Education”. She was replaced by the former St. Joseph’s Convent, Port-of-Spain, principal, Mrs. Elizabeth Crouch, another award winner as of 2007. Mrs. Crouch was awarded the Public Service Medal of Merit (Gold) for “outstanding and meritorious service to Trinidad and Tobago in the sphere of Education. Ms Kaye Mc Grath continued to serve as Vice Principal alongside Mrs. Crouch for an additional year. Upon her retirement in 2008, the role of vice principal was assumed by Mrs. Frances Oblington, a dedicated, long-time employee.
➸ The Fire and School Expansion
In the wee hours of the morning in October 13th 2009, a fire originating from the neighbouring building on the southern side of Abercromby Street, spread to our school where damage to many areas of the existing building occurred. The school was temporarily located at three different venues, St Joseph’s Convent, Providence Belmont home, and The Church of the Assumption, Church Hall. While devastating, it served to facilitate the expansion and inclusion of features that have brought our school to a new level.
After this fire in April 2010, the school underwent significant repairs and restoration, adding 101 Abercromby Street to the address for Maria Regina Grade School. This brought the Infants 1 department into the same vicinity as the rest of the school, now unified at 101-107 Abercromby Street. Alongside these improvements, the school itself saw significant enhancements, including the installation of a cutting-edge Power Court at the front of the new Infants 1 building. Additional facilities like a Dance Studio and Art/Music Room were constructed. A full-time on-site Counselor was hired to support the students’ well-being and the introduction of the program Zippy’s Friends, a mental health program for children ages 5-8 was also introduced. The school expanded its extracurricular offerings with an increase in the number and diversity of clubs. To improve efficiency, a Middle Management Team was established, comprising of Heads of Departments and Deans overseeing academics, pastoral care, safety, and technology. Each classroom was equipped with advanced technology, such as Smart Boards or LCD Projectors/Pull Down Screens, complemented by acoustics and full internet access. Embracing 21st-century learning, the school created a website featuring a ‘current affairs blog’ and individual teacher websites. Catering to the student’s needs, warm meals were made accessible to all, and the eating and play areas were expanded under a covered Portico. Additionally, supervised play sessions were initiated during lunchtime, to promote a safe and enjoyable environment. Finally, the relocation of the Library provided a better space for students to engage in reading and learning. These collective efforts transformed the school into a modern and thriving educational institution.
➸ The Earthquake and another expansion
On August 21st, 2018, Trinidad and Tobago experienced a devastating earthquake that wreaked havoc on numerous buildings, including the historic structure at MRGS (Maria Regina Grade School). The aftermath of the quake left the oldest building severely damaged, prompting the immediate evacuation and closure of the administrative area. The visible destruction was evident, with significant drops in window and door frames, caused by the powerful tremors which affected the shared foundation of many century-old structures.
Over a span of two years, MRGS underwent yet another significant transformation. The library served as the temporary administrative office, while the former art and music room was repurposed as the teachers’ staff room. This period allowed us to focus on renovating and reconstructing the damaged building, seizing the opportunity to enhance the school’s facilities. As a result, we successfully added a new gymnasium, a meeting room, and an updated art and music room. Additionally, on the first floor beneath the gymnasium, a brand new play area was created, featuring classic games like hopscotch, Simon Says, Morale, and “What’s the Time, Mr. Wolf?”
➸ COVID 19 & Online Learning
On February 28th, 2020, a joyous celebration took place at MRGS as the Board, administration, staff, benefactors, students, and parents gathered to mark the official opening of the newly constructed and renovated building. The entire school community was thrilled to begin utilizing the updated spaces. However, just nine days later, on the evening of March 12th, devastating news arrived when we received notification from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education that our school had to be closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The following day, March 13th, the government made a nationwide decision to close all schools, affecting educational institutions across the country.
Amidst the initial fear and obstacles brought about by the pandemic, the MRGS community demonstrated remarkable resilience. Without delay, we swiftly adapted to the new reality, embracing online education. By Monday, March 16th, we successfully implemented 21 Zoom classrooms and integrated a renowned Learning Management System, Schoology, into our remote learning approach. This proactive response ensured that students continued to receive quality education despite the challenging circumstances, reaffirming our commitment to their academic growth and well-being.
For an uninterrupted period of two and a half years, we persevered with online education, diligently delivering daily lessons and adhering to the MOE curriculum for our students. Despite the challenges, we remained dedicated to upholding our high academic standards, even in the Secondary Examination Assessment examination. In a remarkable achievement, our Head Boy, Aaron Subero, secured the 1st position in the national SEA examination in 2020. Building on this success, in 2021, Vineetha Kattamanchi followed in his footsteps, achieving a remarkable 2nd place in the SEA examination. These outstanding accomplishments were attained among a pool of over 19,000 students across the country, a testament to the commitment of both the students and the school’s unwavering support and dedication of its staff for our students’ academic excellence.
➸ Retirement and change in Management
On June 1st, 2020, Mrs. Crouch gracefully concluded her position as principal, culminating a remarkable 14-year tenure. Throughout this period, she orchestrated the evolution of Maria Regina into a cutting-edge 21st-century institution, emphasizing both academic prowess and holistic growth of its students. Maria Regina garnered acclaim for its exceptional scholastic achievements, evident in its high Academic Performance Index on the Nation’s yearly National tests. Moreover, our student, Aaron Subero, achieved the 1st rank in the Secondary Examination Assessment in 2020, a feat that was emulated by Vineetha Kattamanchi the subsequent year in 2021, securing the 2nd position nationally in the SEA Examination. What a superb way to embark on retirement.
Taking the new role of Principal was Mrs. Kathryn Seow, a true testament to the school’s legacy as she was once a pupil herself. Over the course of 14 years, Mrs. Seow had been an invaluable member of the staff, serving in various capacities, including as a teacher of Science, Social Studies, Agriculture, and Mathematics. Recognizing her dedication and expertise, she was appointed as the Head of Department for Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Agriculture, and VCCE in 2010. Further, in 2015, she took on the position of Dean of Infants, and Vice Principal, highlighting her commitment to the school’s growth, and nurturing the younger learners. Mrs. Seow’s journey from student to esteemed educator and leader is a remarkable example of the positive impact of education and the continuity of excellence at MRGS.
Simultaneously, Mrs. Karen Crichlow was appointed as the new Vice Principal, joining Mrs. Oblington in the leadership team in 2021. Mrs. Crichlow had been a dedicated employee at MRGS for 20 years, contributing in various roles throughout her tenure. Initially, she served as a class teacher, instructing all subjects except for VAPA (Visual and Performing Arts). Later on, she found her passion in Creative Writing and specialized in this area. In recognition of her expertise and commitment, Mrs. Crichlow was selected to be part of the middle management team in 2010 and assumed the role of Head of Department for Creative Writing. Her extensive experience and passion for education made her a valuable addition to the school’s leadership. Presently, she continues to teach Grade 5s, all the while upholding her position as the Head of the English Language Arts Department, a role that has expanded to encompass Creative Writing as well.
In June 2021, after an impressive 51-year career, Mrs. Francis Oblington retired from her position as Vice Principal. Beyond her administrative duties, she remained deeply committed to her role as Cub pack leader, affectionately known as Akelia, a position she had held since 1971, leading the 3rd pack with passion and dedication. Mrs. Oblington’s remarkable service and significant contributions have left a lasting impact on MRGS, and her retirement marked the end of a truly remarkable era.
➸ Return to in-person school
In February 2022, our school welcomed back only the Grade 5 students in preparation for the SEA exam. However, by April 2022, the entire school community joyfully reunited for the final academic term of 2021-2022 in person. The return of both teachers and students filled us with immense happiness.
In April 2022, the entire school returned to in-person teaching and learning following all recommended protocols for COVID-19. MRGS even implemented a contract between parents and the school agreeing to keep their child home or have their child sent home, should their child exhibit any flu-like symptoms. Since then, for the academic year 2022 and beyond, we have resumed the normal day-to-day operations of the school, while also integrating the use of the Learning Management System (LMS) Schoology for both in-class and homework activities. By doing so, we strive to provide the best possible academic experience for our students. Working closely with parents and students, we continue to foster a supportive and conducive learning environment at MRGS