I took the common entrance when I was ten years old. Even now, I can transport myself to the grade four block of Vaz Prep and see an eager unassuming child completing her Mental ability exam. I didn’t have any true concept of competition or merit at that time. I just wanted to make my mom proud. She was a high school math teacher and like many parents was eager to secure bragging rights for her child’s high school placement.
I vaguely remember how our high school placements were announced (I’m inclined to say Mrs. Magnus posted the news paper clippings on the announcement board). I do remember however, returning from school, and that as I walked down my neighborhood street people were shouting to me, “Arrite Ms. Immaculate!” “Bright girl!” “Mommy proud a yuh man!” And she was. She had long told everyone who would listen, and had been waiting for me on the veranda bursting with excitement and pride.
Immaculate Conception High School has been a staple as one of Jamaica’s most prestigious secondary institutions. In fact, to have gained a place at Immaculate or Campion at the time, was to be distinguished as the cream of the primary/preparatory crop. It is often referenced, that the ways in which a child is reared have a direct impact on how they thrive as adults. Often lacking in that conversation, is the fact that just as much of this rearing takes place at the child’s academic institution as it does at home. Even in all the mean girlness and coming of age angsts of high school, I still regard my 5 years at Immaculate as the most formative time of my life.
Thanks to social media, I’ve been able to keep up with the progress of a lot of Immaculate girls, and I sincerely revel in watching their magic unfold. ‘Most every Immaculate girl I know is within her own right successful. Even now, when I speak with other alumnae (which is often) their approaches to success are often credited to tools they believed were instilled based on their time at Immaculate. Sentiments, that to this day I totally share. This brings me to how the magic that is Immaculate cultivates some of the shiniest gems we see today.
So what is Immaculate girl magic (#MacGirlMagic)? It’s an undeniable presence that with an almost cautious grace and unwavering self candor molds trail blazers. It’s a magic I’ve witnessed time and time again and attribute to the following:
1. The immaculate girl is constantly in competition. However, unlike many women who recklessly compete with each other she is in constant competition with herself. Consistently setting goals centered on her personal self improvement.
2. They have a quiet arrogance. It’s not just confidence but a curiosity of hidden potential. It propels constant thoughts of, “well if she/he can do it, then I don’t see why I cant.” For others it further propels them to ponder, “if he or she did it, what’s to say I couldn’t do it better.”
3. Poise. Even the most crass of us is in more than one way refined. The mac girl is either avidly stylish and/or consistently well spoken. We are forced to care about how we carry ourselves at a very young age; from our polished brown shoes to our pleated white skirts. The constant tidiness we once dreaded has in more than one way manifested itself in our approach to our appearance. As such, we always dress the part.
4. They are structured. From forming relentless queues, to not walking through the front door, or standing when a teacher was present. All these dreaded rules cultivated women who not only respect structure but frown at the lack of it. As such, even if lacking in their personal lives, many are organized in their professional ones.
5. Immaculate girls have also been cultivated to establish personal brands. Long before the concepts of branding were permeated through every entrepreneur lecture or magazine, we had assembly. On Wednesdays, the mac girl is privy to her very own Ted Talk courtesy of Sister Mary Catherine. During this talk, it is almost always reiterated that every time we exited those pastel green gates, once in uniform, we represent the school and that the choices we make are a reflection of the institution. As such, being on brand now comes effortlessly.
6. We want to be the best….at EVERYTHING. Now being the best is never inclusive of what others are doing or purposefully outshining someone else. We just need that figurative gold star. Wanting to be the best makes for great work ethic and is our constant self-motivation.
7. We nuff….ie avidly curious. Most immaculate girls are excellent researchers. Those who aren’t avid readers are into documentaries or in some way constantly educating themselves. At our core, we are after all nerds. Chances are, if she’s developed an interest in something a great deal of time has been invested in thoroughly educating herself on the subject.
8. The air of privilege. While it is important to know you are not better than others, it is equally as important to know that no one is better than you. You don’t have to tell the immaculate girl the latter. As such, approval from random others is hardly ever her priority. This privilege also permits a meagre sense of entitlement. Just the right amount to enable her to feel there is nowhere she doesn’t belong. As a result, she is inclined to find herself in places others have fooled themselves into believing they ought not be. The consequence of this: being well-positioned for opportunity and networking.
9. She’s always working. Perhaps, because the minute we arrived at school after 7, it was game on. Even after school was out we had extra curriculars or Mr. Abrahams or whatever activities our parents had us enlisted. Though it’s pretty much an island thing to keep more than one thing brewing, the immaculate girl hardly ever has her hand in one pot.
10. The final shine that allows for mac girl magic is comradery and a keen sense of loyalty. Most every Immaculate girl remains close friends with another or several other immaculate girls. Aptly fostering relationships that encourage, celebrate and uplift other women. For the most part, we sincerely love to see each other shine.
The tools gained at Immaculate have made standing out somewhat easy for many girls. So much so, that she often doesn’t have to apply her best. She simply has to be better than everyone else in the room. Most of these attributes can be choked up to a solid Caribbean education at any fine facility but this is my ode to some of the girls I most admire.
Now, don’t be shy. Revel in your alumni pride and tell us about the magic you’ve harnessed from your Secondary school.