By Dennis Ramdeen
“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” ― Harry S. Truman
The Fatima College Class of ’75, like some other classes, has managed to stay together years after leaving our alma mater. We meet once a month to bond and reminisce and to check up on each other. These meetings dubbed the ‘Bored Meetings’ take place at the Oval which is famous for its cricket and its bar. Be assured that we never meet there for cricket.
It was at one of these Bored Meetings that the suggestion came up about doing a film about our Principal and mentor Clive Pantin. After all, the Class of ’75 had in our ranks the best in every field, including videographer Cliff Seedansingh. It was felt that current Fatima students did not know about Mr Pantin’s huge contribution to Fatima and the wider T&T and we wanted to fix that.
So “Answering the Call, A tribute to Clive Pantin”, a 50-minute video documentary was born. Our group figured out what it would cost to do it and went about fundraising and planning for its realisation. That we had outstanding and patient in-house talent in Clifford made this project’s completion more attainable.
Clive Pantin’s role as husband, father, teacher, sportsman, community, sport and social activist, founder of Foundation for the Enhancement and Enrichment of Life (FEEL) and a former Minister of Education was revealed on March 20, 2013 at the Fatima College Hall. Our Principal Clive Pantin was the guest of honour as he sat among his family, friends, teachers and past students in a simple ceremony.
“Answering the Call” documents his contributions to Fatima and T&T in general through the eyes of his fellow teachers, past and present principals and a whole bunch of people whose lives he touched.
Clive Pantin was the first lay person and local to serve as Principal coming after the legendary Fr James Ryan, a Holy Ghost Father. Narrated by former Fatima language teacher and choir master Maurice Brash, who was himself a student of the school, the documentary also featured Ray Holman, Beacon Insurance CEO, Gerald Hadeed, former national footballers, Alvin Corneal and Everald ‘Gally’ Cummings and cricket icon Brian Lara, who was transferred from San Juan Secondary to Fatima after Pantin was approached by his parents.
Contributors to the video all spoke of the active role Pantin took on, ensuring that students received a holistic development through academics, sports and other extracurricular activities. “He always made himself available in the classrooms and had the amazing ability to remember every student’s name,” one of the contributors said.
Under his stewardship, the college also achieved many firsts. In addition to Pantin being the first lay principal, the school also hired its first women—secretary Kathy Garcia and teacher Jeanette Zakour, now Elias.
Pantin also upgraded the school’s curriculum, adding new subjects including Audio/Visual Art. It became the first of its kind in the country and was headed by English-born Dr Bruce Paddington, now a lecturer at UWI, St Augustine. The move also forged a relationship between Fatima and its neighbouring schools Mucurapo Senior and Junior Secondary (now Mucurapo East and West), through the Mucurapo School Community Project, which allowed Mucurapo students to share facilities at Fatima, including the Audio-Visual room as well as the playing field for sports.
A linguist, Pantin also introduced the country’s first Spanish phonetic television show, A La Orden.