Five ways to recognise a Bishops girl

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We’re everywhere.
No, seriously. You may think that I’m exaggerating, but as a graduate of Bishop Anstey High School (BAHS, Class of 2002!) it certainly seems like I bounce up ‘Bishops girls’ everywhere I go.
Interview successful females for a newspaper? Perfectionist, over-achieving Bishops girls. Head to UWI Jamaica to study? Meet three Bishops girls right on hall, two in my degree programme and one chick from Bishops Tobago. Join Facebook? A truckload of old Hilarians* in all shapes, sizes, classes and ages friend me. Meet random, cool women in wine bar? Discover that they went to Bishops too, and bond over pinot noir and a discussion on how great or awful the school experience was.
I’ve heard people call us a cult, a mafia and a bunch of b*tches. But no matter how you feel about us, most people in T&T can spot a Bishops girl from a mile away. And if you can’t, you need to learn… for your own safety and protection.
1. The ponytail
I got this one from my dad, who worked with many Bishops women for many years at a local bank. He maintains to this day that BAHS students and alumni always pull our hair back in one, come rain, shine, sleet or occasion. I didn’t see it then, but wooo boy do I get it now. Nearly all my school photos feature others and me wearing our hair in a ponytail.
Now, I’m almost ten years outta school, and it’s still hard for me to do anything with my hair besides scrape it back. I have to make a conscious effort to style and pretty it up. And if Facebook profile pics are accurate, my fellow BAHS peeps have the same problem. Don’t hide now, we done see you.
2. The ‘attitude’
I prefer to think of it as assertive. But it has also been called the aggressive/domineering/bitchy attitude by some unkind people (read weak men and Convent girls. Yes I went there). We not shy. At all. Some of us may be quiet, but when we have something to say, you will hear our mouths. Loud, too. And even when we not being loud, there is something in the straightforward, logical way that we approach life that makes us stand out from the crowd. It’s kinda like we give out a vibe that says, “I’m here and I ready to conquer”. Tends to put men off, but who cares? Those who are intimidated are probably spineless anyway. Which leads me to #3…
3. Alleged man-haters
I say alleged because although Bishop Anstey is an all-girls school, we are not all lesbians. Many of us really, really like men. Really. However, those well-known concepts of ‘submission’, ‘the weaker sex’ and ‘waiting’? Yeah, we don’t do those well. And we really have no patience with men who cannot match us strength for strength. You had better be running at the same speed, or you become a problem, and, trust me, you don’t want to see one of us frustrated.
I not saying that if I have a master’s degree, you MUST have a doctorate. But come now; I can’t be discussing where I want to be in the next five years with my girls and all your five-years-doing-a-first-degree self have to chime in with is, “Scene. Allyuh see the new Transformers movie?” No, eh!
So if you tracking one of us, and you want to impress her (whatever your education level), make sure you have the following:
4. The go-getter mind-set
I have yet to meet one old Hilarian who is not ambitious. She may be tryna get a CEO position, working a normal 9 to 5 or be a pastors’ wife. But you better move, and get out the way, when she decides on a course of action. We’re all about improving ourselves and the people around us. Our school motto is “Non nobis domine” or “Not without dust the palm”. Loosely translated, it means no pain, no gain. So we’re trained to work hard and do it right the first time.
You’ll find Bishops women behind corporations, small businesses, well-run homes and schools, churches, mosques, and mandirs. When we put our hands on something, it is usually done to the best of our ability. For example, the Bishops Alumni all-inclusive fete is ALWAYS a success every year at Carnival time. We just have a gift for getting things done. Don’t hate; appreciate.
5. The network
One great thing about being a Bishops girl out in the world is that I am never alone. If we could help another sister, it’s done. You don’t even need to ask. So if you see one woman randomly helping out another one, even though they don’t even know each other’s last names, the helpful one is a saint or they’re both Hilarians.
The assistance, encouragement and ‘blighs’ I have gotten from my Hilarian sisters are endless. This is not to say that I never get help from anybody else (the Convent girls not so bad once we leave school, eh). But the Bishops mafia is strong and moving on, yo.
Young padawans, learn to use the BAHS force and watch the blessings roll in. But never forget to give back to others who need your support. That’s actually the best way to recognise us; no matter what anyone else says, being a Bishops girl is about hard work and sisterhood. And perpetual ponytails.
* BAHS students, past and present, are also called Hilarians because St. Hilary is the school’s patron saint.

We’re everywhere.

No, seriously. You may think that I’m exaggerating, but as a graduate of Bishop Anstey High School (BAHS, Class of 2002!) it certainly seems like I bounce up ‘Bishops girls’ everywhere I go.

Interview successful females for a newspaper? Perfectionist, over-achieving Bishops girls. Head to UWI Jamaica to study? Meet three Bishops girls right on hall, two in my degree programme and one chick from Bishops Tobago. Join Facebook? A truckload of old Hilarians* in all shapes, sizes, classes and ages friend me. Meet random, cool women in wine bar? Discover that they went to Bishops too, and bond over pinot noir and a discussion on how great or awful the school experience was.

I’ve heard people call us a cult, a mafia and a bunch of b*tches. But no matter how you feel about us, most people in T&T can spot a Bishops girl from a mile away. And if you can’t, you need to learn… for your own safety and protection.

1. The ponytail

I got this one from my dad, who worked with many Bishops women for many years at a local bank. He maintains to this day that BAHS students and alumni always pull our hair back in one, come rain, shine, sleet or occasion. I didn’t see it then, but wooo boy do I get it now. Nearly all my school photos feature others and me wearing our hair in a ponytail.

Now, I’m almost ten years outta school, and it’s still hard for me to do anything with my hair besides scrape it back. I have to make a conscious effort to style and pretty it up. And if Facebook profile pics are accurate, my fellow BAHS peeps have the same problem. Don’t hide now, we done see you.

2. The ‘attitude’

I prefer to think of it as assertive. But it has also been called the aggressive/domineering/bitchy attitude by some unkind people (read weak men and Convent girls. Yes I went there). We not shy. At all. Some of us may be quiet, but when we have something to say, you will hear our mouths. Loud, too. And even when we not being loud, there is something in the straightforward, logical way that we approach life that makes us stand out from the crowd. It’s kinda like we give out a vibe that says, “I’m here and I ready to conquer”. Tends to put men off, but who cares? Those who are intimidated are probably spineless anyway. Which leads me to #3…

3. Alleged man-haters 

I say alleged because although Bishop Anstey is an all-girls school, we are not all lesbians. Many of us really, really like men. Really. However, those well-known concepts of ‘submission’, ‘the weaker sex’ and ‘waiting’? Yeah, we don’t do those well. And we really have no patience with men who cannot match us strength for strength. You had better be running at the same speed, or you become a problem, and, trust me, you don’t want to see one of us frustrated.

I not saying that if I have a master’s degree, you MUST have a doctorate. But come now; I can’t be discussing where I want to be in the next five years with my girls and all your five-years-doing-a-first-degree self have to chime in with is, “Scene. Allyuh see the new Transformers movie?” No, eh!

So if you tracking one of us, and you want to impress her (whatever your education level), make sure you have the following:

4. The go-getter mindset

I have yet to meet one old Hilarian who is not ambitious. She may be tryna get a CEO position, working a normal 9 to 5 or be a pastor’s wife. But you better move, and get out the way, when she decides on a course of action. We’re all about improving ourselves and the people around us. Our school motto is “Non sine pulvere palman” or “Not without dust the palm”. Loosely translated, it means no pain, no gain. So we’re trained to work hard and do it right the first time.

You’ll find Bishops women behind corporations, small businesses, well-run homes and schools, churches, mosques, and mandirs. When we put our hands on something, it is usually done to the best of our ability. For example, the Bishops Alumni all-inclusive fete is ALWAYS a success every year at Carnival time. We just have a gift for getting things done. Don’t hate; appreciate.

5. The network

One great thing about being a Bishops girl out in the world is that I am never alone. If we could help another sister, it’s done. You don’t even need to ask. So if you see one woman randomly helping out another one, even though they don’t even know each other’s last names, the helpful one is a saint or they’re both Hilarians.

The assistance, encouragement and ‘blighs’ I have gotten from my Hilarian sisters are endless. This is not to say that I never get help from anybody else (the Convent girls not so bad once we leave school, eh). But the Bishops mafia is strong and moving on, yo.

Young padawans, learn to use the BAHS force and watch the blessings roll in. But never forget to give back to others who need your support. That’s actually the best way to recognise us; no matter what anyone else says, being a Bishops girl is about hard work and sisterhood. And perpetual ponytails.

* BAHS students, past and present, are also called Hilarians because St. Hilary is the school’s patron saint.

 

Image credit: guardian.co.tt

Desiree Seebaran

Desiree Seebaran is a freelance writer and publications manager who is always on the look out for the next big project. She's written for publications like Caribbean Beat, and Who's Who of Trinidad & Tobago, and most recently edited a children's book. You can check out her blog dingolay-des.blogspot.com.

12 Comments

  1. Stefan

    July 11, 2011 at 1:54 am

    You forgot two others:
    6. They are all insane!
    It is as if the government had some special method of rounding up the potentially brilliant but future certifiably insane girls and house them on one compound. One doesn’t know when the switch flips but when it does, run for cover. Hell hath no fury like a Bishops girl tripping out for no reason.

    And I don’t mean tripping out over some man or some emotional problem. Nope. That will signal weakness in a Bishops girl and they don’t have that characteristic developed. Trust them to trip out over the price of gas, a small animal left at the side of the road or the price of shoes at say…Ate Logo

    7. Diamonds in the rough
    Having had the lion’s share of successful Miss Universe contestants come out of Bishops, one has to understand and believe that it is part of a master plan. Those girls that we ignore during their formative years in favour of the “Convent” girls seem to blossom into heavenly creatures that become extrememly rich! Karma I say…..

  2. Hilarian Songbird

    July 11, 2011 at 2:26 am

    Just need to point out that the motto is actually “Non Sine Pulvere Palmam”….Not without dust, the palm. Non Nobis is the school song…I think sometimes though we should try to get past the “literary defense of school background” trend and just let all of the above named qualities speak for themselves. I have to give props to the above comment for highlighting the good and bad…..Bishop’s women are driven by an unmatched passion and confidence that ends up producing good and bad results depending on the context.lol! So there is my 2cents.

  3. Desiree Seebaran

    dseebaran

    July 11, 2011 at 2:36 am

    Stefan, you are sooooo right. Clearly, you have been liming strong with us for years … like you went QRC.

    Ms. Songbird … it has been rectified. Thanks :) It get mix up in my head.

  4. Jay

    July 11, 2011 at 8:13 am

    Thought some envelopes were going to be pushed with this online publication. I could have gotten this type of insight in the waiting line outside 51 Degrees.

  5. Reshma

    July 13, 2011 at 12:05 am

    I think the article is true but isnt a fact as well that Bishops girls tend to wear their hair natural much more than other black girls who relax and straighten their hair??? I didnt really get the whole ponytail thing but to me bishops girls always had braids and twists…

  6. Reshma

    July 13, 2011 at 12:07 am

    Not sure about the pony tail…don’t Bishops girls tend to wear their hair natural..ie twists, braids rather than relaxed and straightened like Covent girls…I always thought that was more of a distinction between black girls who go to the two schools…

  7. SafiyaBakshHosein

    July 18, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I like the captions about Bishop’s girls.My thoughts exactly.Although I left school so many years ago 1963,I still remember that Bishop Anstey inspired in me that zeal for knowledge and learning that I carry with me even today.I write poetry in Spanish,English,French and Hindustani.At the moment I have a completed book of Spanish poetry waiting to be published

  8. Vidya Traboulay

    February 13, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    I thought the Motto is “Non Sine Pulvere Palman” Not without perseverance do you achieve anything.

  9. lamming

    December 18, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Ok u got me here. …I agree with all your points…especially the ponytail…lmao

  10. Nneka, Working Mystic

    December 19, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    So true! Though I gave up my ponytail a few years ago, I STILL have the attitude:-)

  11. Pamela Cobham

    May 11, 2016 at 12:22 am

    So great to see that, in spite of the different time periods which we spent at Bishops, the sentiments are the same. Since I left that great school which I attended from 5 to 19, like my dear friend Vidya who also posted, Bishops has left its mark on me, my sisters, my cousins, my mother and my aunts all of whom are and were Hilarians. That in itself is a dynasty of sorts. Now my daughter who was raised abroad is a typical Bishops girl. When I was hesitant about agreeing to let her attend Spelman College, she asked me if I didn’t want her to have a similar experience that we had in Bishops and she won’ out. Interestingly the Moorhouse boys saw the Spelman girls as possessing many of the Bishops girls qualities described. Back in the 1960ies my bajan cousin who attended UWI in St. Augustine spoke of the character of the Bishops girls there and how they differed from Convent girls of that time. From what I hear Convent girls are being molded differently now because of the character and leadership of the post -nuns principals. I could go on forever. U get the point.. always a Trini, always a Bishops girl… we rule and yes we are everywhere..Non Sine
    Pulvere Palmam

  12. Deborah

    July 13, 2017 at 11:49 pm

    Do they know that they have a twin sister school in another country? The Bishops’ High School in Georgetown, Guyana.. Used to be an all girls school(now co-ed) Main difference. The ponytails. Almost every other point hit home.

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