Wed | Nov 22, 2017

St Joseph’s High was my life, says 76-year-old caretaker

Published:Thursday | August 31, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
Newton 'Cappo' Williamson, the caretaker at St Joseph’s High School, located on Collins Green Avenue in St Andrew, poses with a plaque he received for 40 years of long and dedicated service. The school is closing its doors on August 31.

For just shy of 40 years, St Joseph's High School was the envy of many. From its obscure start in 1978, it rose to become the number one privately operated high school in the Corporate Area.

Those heady days are now gone. The school's board of directors has decided to call it quits. The closure takes effect today.

The busy, often buzzing classrooms that in days gone sent a cacophony of sound into the surrounding communities are now silent, bereft of the hundreds of students that once walked the halls.

The lasting memories of this once proud institution are not lost on one man who grew with it. Seventy-six-year-old Newton Williamson, better known as 'Cappo', spent his early association with the school as its main construction worker and the last 15 years as caretaker.

"I remember this was the number one private high school in all the Corporate Area. It was a proud and successful school. I cannot imagine not having the school in operation," he lamented.

"With the closure, I am out of a job. It is very disappointing, but circumstances do change after all, doesn't it? I will have to go find work elsewhere. It will be difficult. I am an elderly man now, but I will be trying."

 

Long and dedicated service

 

In 2015, Williamson was awarded a plaque for "long and dedicated service to the school". It remains among some of his most prized possessions.

"This means so much to me," he said, holding the plaque.

"I will miss the children and the staff very much. It was a successful school, but all good things must end," Williamson added tearfully.

His association matches the 40 years the school has had its gates open. But now with its closure, Williamson admits that it's also a closure of sorts for him.

"I'm not feeling good at the moment. This school has been my entire life, actually. One of my sons got seven CXC (Caribbean Examinations Council) subjects right here. I am proud that he did, but this closure is a sad end to a good thing," he grieved.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com