My Louisville Experience……(updated)

Hey guys sorry I haven’t posted in a long while. I just got back to Lagos, been bonding with the family. I had earlier on drafted this blog post for today but out of “respect” I’m going to tone down my rage and try as hard as possible to convey this message in the most polite way I can think of.

On one random evening I got to talk with my cousin and uncle about my high school, Louisville Girls High School <in Ijebu-Itele not Abuja>. My parents had this belief that this school was going to build me into some well-rounded lady ready to face the world when done. But to be honest that school was traumatising. My cousin went to Christ The King and went through the same thing. One thing both schools were? Catholic Schools. I want to believe there is a fine line between discipline and abuse. And for me most of it was abuse. Look, I was not a rebellious kid, hardly got into trouble and to be fair I was actually never flogged so this isn’t from someone who wants some form of “revenge” or something.

This is just my candid outlook on my experience. I apologise, as this isn’t well structured because my high school memories are all over the place but here are some experiences I would like to share from what I remember.

One that stands out is that one time the head girl was flogged over 60 something strokes of the cane…. actually a tree branch. <Apparently someone did count> and I kid you not this is true, I swear I was there, it was in front of the whole school in the refectory. The principal came to the refectory while we where having dinner, she said we were making noise, called for the head girl, told her to get branches from a tree and flogged the daylight out of her because of the “noise”. What happened to 5 strokes okay let me even try to understand your anger, 10 strokes? That girl’s back was shattered with bruises, her arms Lord have mercy, and there was this rule where when a senior or staff scolded you you automatically should have your hands behind you kneeling down. So yeah she knelt down with her hands behind her all through the strokes and if for some reason her hands weren’t behind she would have been condemned for being rude. Oh and by the way they built the refectory just beside the convent where all the reverend sisters stayed, I have a question WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? You’re running a school with about 500 teenagers/human beings but they are expected not to say a word? Cool

Each student had an assigned place to clean in the mornings, some the roads, dormitories, and the chapel…. basically we cleaned the school ourselves. I remember this one time I was assigned to clean one of the labs and one of the reverend sisters called all of us students that worked in the lab block, she told us that if she ever walked through the lab and swept her finger through the window to find dust she would beat every single worker on the block so much that even if Jesus came down to beg she would not listen to him. <BRUH?!> Talk about blasphemy, oh but who I am to say a word? I can still remember that meeting with her vividly.

This school impacted so much fear in us students that we literally couldn’t express ourselves be it creatively or other wise there was just that constant fear were each of us had to think 5 steps ahead of whatever word we uttered or actions we played out. And because we were mere students members of staff took advantage of the fact that we had no voice and used that to sometimes make life a living hell for us most times exaggerating things just so we could be punished.

Oh yeahhh I remember that one time my diary was read. I had left my diary in my locker in the hostel unknown to me they had searched for contraband that day. So when I got back and realized I went to ask those responsible for the search and was told they didn’t have it <obviously a lie> anyway cut the long story short the next day I was called by the principal where she flogged a student based on something I wrote. She said the student told a lie against her and that is why she flogged her. What made me miserable was that she made me watch as she finished my friend. Now whether my friend lied or not isn’t the question, the main question is WHY WOULD YOU READ MY DIARY WITHOUT MY PERMISSION? What happened to confidentiality? The thing is when I started to keep the diary I decided to document about my last days in the school, talk about exams and just how I was coping but unfortunately I don’t know why she had some kind of dislike for my set and so there was always one punishment or the other. It was that period she starved us, during our IGCSE exams because we ate from our parents when they came visiting. There were so many students unfortunately sick but no she didn’t give us food all day. I KID YOU NOT. There were many more punishments but that stood out for me. With all the frustration I started lashing out in my diary because some days were just unbearable and that was my “place” vent at the time. This happened in my final year in the school.

Oh and yeah we used to have this thing called evaluation and <S.B.O> Stay Back Order. On whatever day our results were collated we had evaluation when the whole school would meet and the names of those who failed their subjects were called out and they were each flogged, mind you an “A” was 96% while a 70% was a D. I think it was just mainly those with ‘’F’s” that were lashed though, I was never flogged funny enough, whenever I think about the whole ordeal it was very unnecessary. In the first place not every one is good with school we are all born with different gifts, besides beating up a child doesn’t make a better brain because to be honest there were some students that where flogged from their first year through till their last so what exactly was the point? We were always told the strokes were because those students failed to prepare for their exams…I’ll just leave that there… …oh and by the way S.B.O <Stay Back Order> was during midterms sometimes if there was evaluation those who were flogged stayed back in school for the midterm week while others went home for the break. To be honest not all evaluations involved flogging sometimes names were just called out and the students stayed back.

All I’m saying is there are a lot of other ways to discipline children other than flogging the life out of them, or impacting so much fear in them that they begin to think their opinions aren’t valid enough or think they aren’t worth voicing out their thoughts. I was never motivated to do anything in that school because there was just always something to fear, thinking about it now that is a very lame excuse I know but the fear was real. I used to be very timid; my mum was always complaining that I never spoke out when being spoken to even till date when I “shout” it is apparently like I’m whispering.

On a final note I was going to say that many Louisville alumni have turned out really good but to be honest that won’t be exactly truthful. I gave this piece to a dear friend to actually read through and she pointed that out. There is usually a period after graduation when we hear of all sorts of stories about girls that left the school and this makes me question all the extremes they put us through. In the long run I guess people turn out okay sometimes but I feel that is from life’s lessons and continual growth not the “Louisville training”. And to those who turned out right I would forever attribute that to parenting and the homes we were from rather than the school.

Now I must say that am thankful to Louisville for some experiences, at least I’ll have some tales to tell my kids but overall I believe a lot of things should be looked into and adjusted in terms of how the school was/is run in my opinion.

I just might make a video on this probably with more stories from my dearest Louisville girls <please share some of your experiences with me on FB or twitter if you get where I’m coming from, don’t worry I won’t disclose your identity if it’ll bother you> Sometimes I do cry <x_x> when I remember some things that is how bad I feel it was < imagine! and I was never really a constant “victim”> and that’s why I believe their way of approach needs to be adjusted. Hopefully this post gets into the right hands, someone who can make a change for better. Thanks guys for listening to me!…and oh you can read on “My Experience, My Opinion” <there’s more there>

P.S Thank you Efe for your help ^^

“UPDATE ON POST” – From your comments some of you clearly don’t not even understand what this post is about and it makes me want to rant but that would not even benefit anyone. For those of you talking about seniors being wicked, the bullying no offence but that is quite irrelevant to what this is about. I have no problem with being punished if I am wrong, everyone needs someone to put them in the right. So this isn’t me asking to be patted on the back if I fail to sweep my portion, I should be punished for that just don’t flog me about 50 strokes on assembly, tell everyone I am rebellious, narrate to bible verse about rebellion being of witchcraft, tell me to wash plates for the school without even knowing why I didn’t sweep my portion. You don’t know if I was ill this morning, or if a member of staff called me during that period<trust me the staff won’t stand up for you cause they were scared as well>, or if a senior delayed me by using my space at the tap. You just automatically assume that I did not want to sweep my portion. Now people, that is an example of an extreme case….just one though.

I have been lucky enough to study outside Nigeria so I have met a whole range of people from different countries and backgrounds. I have friends <english, indian, german…..>that are just as disciplined as any girl who graduated from Louisville but guess what? they weren’t told to stay out of class cutting grass for “making noise” <aka talking> in the refectory. <The school built the convent and a retreat centre beside the hostels (!!!) so yes noise was always an issue, we had socials in the refectory and we were often punished for making noise during socials….socials was cancelled when I was there….the one time we had to relax>

This example is actually random but I’ll say it anyway. The school cancelled provisions because they wanted equality between students, they didn’t want the “rich” to bring oreos while the “poor” brought cabin cause they felt some students would begin to feel “inferior” <to an extent I actually understand this> but in life <which they were preparing us for> those who own lamborghinis and nanos <aka the cheapest car in the world> use the same road, don’t they?  <I swear my uncle actually said this>

I wanted to leave the school God knows but my parents just didn’t let me cause its either they found it hard to believe all I was saying or they probably thought I was exaggerating. Some of you say the school has changed, “it is beautiful, the roads are paved”, that is not the change I am seeking for. I met a friend who has a sister there and she said her sister gets so scared when going back, that she is constantly being compared by staff  to her older sisters who went. These are three different individuals why put so much pressure on one to be like the other two? She has a personality you know, which would be different from that of her sisters, please respect that.

I feel the school was partial <which is not fair>. I respect so many of my friends like Jennifer <she was flogged so much that her parents actually had to remove her <in ss3>, now funny enough her parents were once like mine, they felt we were exaggerating or felt it was all discipline until they saw their daughter’s body, then it dawned on them that this was much more than discipline>, Karen, Kachi. O., Monoyo, Anita. I remember one day I was with my friend Efe and a rev sister started to complain and shout at Efe because of her dental braces <I swear she broke down from frustration that day>, the sister said she would soon ban braces as people had started using them for “fashion”. That made me remember one of my friends, Amaka who then used to cry and complain about the pain she felt with braces because she found it hard eating some foods. If you know what dental braces are for you would definitely not see them as “fashion items” and you won’t crucify someone for having them. <My apologies if you didn’t want your names mentioned>

I currently have a problem with my spine which developed in Louisville cause in Js1 <first year in the school> a locker fell on me. No, I didn’t report it because I was too scared to talk to the principal about it. We all had to report our health problems to the principal after assembly before going to the infirmary and if by mistake something about you is wrong while talking to her <be it you pronounce something wrong, don’t stand properly…anything> just be sure to get MAXIMUM SCOLDING YOU WOULD FORGET YOU’RE ILL or maybe even punishment or be told you’re pretending.

Jeez I can still feel the shock when it landed on me, anyway my fear made me keep the pain in till I got home and told my parents. I got it checked out but my xray showed no problem then. Throughout my 6 years the number of times I <I here means collectively with either my set or a group of people> served the “easiest” punishment to kneel down raise my hands and close my eyes are endless. Most times when we’re given that punishment by seniors you can excuse yourself if you do have a back pain and sometimes I did but when the principal gave the punishment I couldn’t for the life of me express my pain < first, she is angry and you have the audacity to say your back hurts?! >. My gosh that punishment was so regular, sometimes we’d kneel on the rough floor <or sand> all through prep for “talking” <2 hours straight……aka extreme> and God bless you if those arms/backs are not straight. That is not want I need to get me through life please. Well 9 years after I learnt my spine has tilted to the right and if I don’t correct it asap I just might need a spinal cord surgery when older. The regularity of the punishment did not contribute to helping my back. Look I don’t need anyone’s sympathy < this is life and this is my own cross to bear> but if I have to state this one very personal situation to make people understand the extremities I am talking about then so be it.

Those of you that feel I am “ungrateful” and all what not I actually don’t like that the bad experiences overshadowed the good. But I’m not going to make up good stuff to please you, this post is on the extremes that should be changed not about me weighing the good and bad <note this point>

I like that I learnt a lot about respect <how to talk generally and to elders> but then again in that same school respect was hardly ever mutual there. We students were not given the mere respect of being individuals with opinions that were maybe different from theirs. If you were told you’re stupid you were literally made to believe and tell yourself “I am stupid” and if your opinion differed then you were rebellious. In terms of academics, in Louisville I was focused on passing just so I wasn’t flogged or being in the top ten just cause they posted our results on broadsheets on a class doors there was so much focus on grades. I wasn’t really studying to understand how my subjects were related to real life problems< which to me is learning>, sometimes we had impromtu tests <anytime of the day> or random tests after classes on the topic we were just thought but the problem with that is some people assimilate faster than others and so when the scores are cumulated that one student who needed to read through 50 times to understand would fail.

I feel the school was to an extent quite partial < very actually > and that is why some of you can’t relate to this. The school liked your sets. But if you read all the comments and messages that have been posted about this through Facebook then you would also notice that many students do relate, the extremes were unnecessary.I think I know why parents love it, its because when they get there there is always this orderliness with the students <our hands behind are backs, us replying in unison when spoken to by the principal, giving room for elders to walk before us, being respectful, knowing when to talk, instilling good moral values….all that is discipline and I commend the school for that. No school would probably never do it like Louisville, but then again the extremes need adjustments if the current students are experiencing them. If I knew from the start that I was going in for military training/experience I would have prepared my mind, but that was not what I applied for. I hope you understand what I mean by this. I know of people who deliberately failed the entrance exam just to avoid going there because of things they had heard about it. <sad>

I finally spoke to my dad about my Louisville experience because I was starting to think I had/was a problem and he has actually just opened up about his own experience with his catholic high school. Funny enough he left his because of the unbearable pressure. He said his experience was so bad that he stopped going to church after he left the school <yeah that bad>. But fortunately for him they sent priests to talk to those who left the schools <I guess as a way to keep in touch> and the priest did admit that the schools noticed that those who finished from them mainly quit attending church and that they understand and will work to make the schools more conducive so as to prevent such from continuing. He said my principal was probably trained that way and that is why she felt the need to train us that way as well. In my opinion that can be related to the issues of bullying cycle but on a second note I will let that go and not talk on that. My dad was lucky he left because he said enjoyed the school he transferred to, my parents definitely wanted the best for me I know <I just can’t wrap my head around why I was subjected to all that> and I am very sure yours as well.

I am glad I have let this out because now I can move on. I was tired of feeling “trapped”. Funny enough because I have spoken up many are now opening up as well. <I wonder why? Maybe fear or you forced yourselves to block that part of your memory like Efe did>. Some of you may not agree with this being the best way to speak/present my views about my alma mater < that is if I haven’t been disowned> but the thing is, when I talk about my experience most people think I’m crazy and laugh it off. I have always laughed it off as well because some were just ridiculously funny and unnecessary, but it never did sit well with me and that is why I am speaking out. I am tired of being forced to think I don’t know the difference between discipline and abuse, I may be young but I am damn well smart to know the difference.

My dad is a disciplinarian, he doesn’t take rubbish < 9pm was my bedtime when I was young, God blessed me the days he caught me awake watching tv after 9 with my older cousins, he did not flog me but I knew my eyes were to be closed on my bed by 9pm.  What about him teaching me the correct use of cutlery even before Louisville, or teaching me about the impact of God in my life <he read bedtime stories from the children’s bible and explained them so did my mum> and why I can’t be without Him, or him teaching me about diplomacy, how to speak to people…..I could go on but my parents did an amazing job training me into who I have become>. They trained me right. I am not perfect, I learn everyday but trust me I know the difference between discipline and abuse. I hope this gets to someone who can actually implement a change if things are still this way as this is probably the last I would speak on this and I am physically and emotionally drained about this experience <living and writing about>. Comments are welcome, I have said all I have to say now, this is me moving on and letting go.

For those of you who think the opposite of this and have mainly good experiences, the internet has enough space to accommodate your views, please take advantage of this and voice out your opinions. Thank you.

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95 thoughts on “My Louisville Experience……(updated)

  1. Beautiful write-up, I must say I experienced a little trepidation whilst reading as I am just signing up to send my very opinionated daughter to LGHS….and I would hate a situation where she wouldn’t be allowed to express herself because of another human being. My husband and I visited the school recently and were very impressed with how everything looked but as a graduate of a girls secondary school as well, I am aware looks can be deceiving. I would really like to hear from students who are currently in LGHD about their experiences and if the school has taken onboard any of these valid comments to improve the situation

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  2. My dear Theresa, I stumbled on your blog when I was looking for some information about Lghs. I then took my time to read your experience and those of your schoolmates. Because of its mixed nature, which is normal, I had to take time to understand what was really going on, which I am not certain I have achieved. Sweetheart, I passed through a boarding school myself, so, I have a fairly good understanding of how “tough” life could be. I am however glad that you were honest enough to acknowledge some positives. I am not really concerned about the details because there are always many sides to a story. I however feel concerned about your state of mind and have these pieces of advice for you and your school mates. It’s about anger and communication. Anger is an unnecessary heavy weight. Please, my dear, put it down. If you don’t, it will pull you down. I kept going back to look at the different pictures you posted of yourself on your blog, sweetheart, you are beautiful. In addition to my concern about the state of your mind, I decided to write this brief comment because I am not able to reconcile your beautiful face with the bitterness in your heart. You don’t need to hang on to this bittterness please. You have made your point, that’s okay. Let it go. When anger festers, it stinks, it contaminates, it destroys. It’s impact may not be felt immediately, but surely, it will ooze out someday, at a time you are not prepared for its boomerang effect. Know this, sweetheart, that when you are angry, the object of your anger is in absolute control of you. My dear, let go of this debilitating anger. My second advice is about communication. I feel you would like to say something to those who were involved in the said experiences. I see you as having overcome your fears and become very outspoken. For all the courage and beauty I see in you, communicate your feelings to the right persons, those concerned. Tell them directly, not indirectly. They may never get to read your blog. Your alma mater is your alma mater, regardless. Love, forgiveness, healing are needed in our world of today. Bitterness only adds its stench to an already complicated world full of hatred. From your blog, I see in you, a purpose-driven young woman. Please add beauty not bitterness to our already aching world. There’s too much sadness in it already. What can you do to make things better in your alma mater? With all that is going on on your blog and the way you are contributing to the larger society, can you check back to see how your alma mater is faring and if need be offer your suggestions. Let that love I see on your blog flow out. Let go of your anger, please. This record of woes about your alma mater will soon be two years old. It’s festering!!! I am not sure that was your intention: to destroy the reputation of your alma mater. How do you feel each time you go through the festering stories? Fulfilled? Certainly not from the intelligent, gifted and beautiful lady I read about on the different sites of your blog. Sweetheart, let it go. I hope someday very soon I will read how you have become a role model of reconciliation and unity. I hope you will also be able to help your friends let go of their anger too. With God’s grace you can. You will be glad you did. God bless you.

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