Jamaican School Days: Titchfield High School

Photos and Words by Martei Korley

This is the second installment of a four-part photo series from LargeUp’s Martei Korley documenting school life in Jamaica. See Part 1, at Kingston’s New Providence Primary School, here.

Titchfield is a small peninsula that juts out from downtown Port Antonio. It is kind of quiet, and its own little world. There is the DeMontevin Lodge, built in 1881, famed as one of the oldest guest houses in Jamaica. You have the harbor, marina and Navy Island on one side, and the lazy bay towards Folly Ruins on the other. It’s almost set in a different time.

Titchfield High School consists of both old, colonial structures and newer additions. It has a very classic, almost military school-like layout, which makes a lot of sense: This used to be the Fort George military barracks. The school itself dates back to the 1700s, and moved to the current location in 1883, which makes it one of the oldest schools in Jamaica.

I drove up from Kingston to Port Antonio, a two-hour drive, and arrived there around mid-day. It was the last day of school, and you can see that in a lot of these pictures, where young people are literally standing at the edge of adulthood.

The other students referred to him as Blacks. He reminded me of a reverend from Mississippi that I had met in Wichita, Kansas, Reverend Bell. Blacks resembled him and, like the reverend, seemed to enjoy a lot of respect, and had a very calm demeanor.

I’m not sure if they were a couple, or just good friends. It was clear these two were very connected, which they were both public and private about. It was hard to ascertain what the connection was, other than that they were close.

Titchfield High School is a hodgepodge of old and newer buildings, but nevertheless with a great lawn underneath a great, open Portland sky. Everybody was going home at this time, but I stopped a couple of them for some portraits.

I thought this picture displays their pride in their uniforms. It is a very classic uniform: Clean, neat and disciplined.

Meet Marlene: A future great Jamaican posing against an old, cut stone wall.

Titchfield has some really old colonial architecture, which was interesting to photograph.

Here we have the same pair we saw earlier. I felt like I was being allowed to witness a private moment. They didn’t disclose to me whatever conflict they were experiencing, but it was clearly important.

This is the definition of a young man. He’s literally standing on the cusp of adulthood.

This is sort of the the inverse of the previous picture. He’s showing some insecurity about his impending future —biting his lip and looking off in the distance. He is now out of school, and has to think about what’s next, and what is he doing with his summer.

Another young man, looking towards a bright future.

He’s dressed up to go home, with his cap on his head. He wanted to have his picture taken as part of a group, and pointed out to me that I needed to take a picture of his friend, a runner, who was completing a couple of laps first.

I thought this moment was telling and symbolic of the last school day’s atmosphere. You’re literally seeing one of the student athletes do his last lap on the track for the school year.

He was one of the school’s star athletes. Even though the school year is over, he’s showing a commitment to his training.

As I was walking away from the school to drive back to Kingston, I passed by a number of students from Port Antonio High School hanging out by the seawall, away from the watchful eyes of adults. This is where Titchfield connects with downtown Port Antonio, and there were some inter-school friendships happening.

Some more students from Port Antonio High School. The two schools are about 1/4 mile away from each other: You can actually see some girls in Titchfield High School uniforms in the background, standing underneath the light pole.

The group dynamic here is complex. One girl is camera shy enough that, even when hiding behind her friend, she has to look down. The center girl is 100-percent confident and poses straight in the camera, almost expectant of a reaction, while her friend looks down the road to look at who’s looking at him. Jah bless the youth. They’re the future. 

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