Claremont Fan Court School

Norwood, Class of 1990

Nina Jones (Noël)

Nina shares her favourite photographs and memories from her four years as a boarder. Amongst other stories, Nina proudly remembers co-founding the Year Book Committee:

“My name was Nina Noël when I attended Claremont from 1985 – 1988.  Special thanks to my mother for the opportunity!!  My younger sister, Tamara, and younger brother, Diallo, accompanied me from the United States, Maryland to be exact.  We were Boarders and Christian Scientists, a winning combination for my family.  We were three of seven Black students at Claremont at the time, but my sister and I never felt out- of-place and were welcomed with so much love and affection that we found lifelong “sisters” and “brothers” in many of the students here.   My little brother came at the age of nine, too young I think, and he didn’t like being away from home, so returned to the States after about six months.

I loved my time at Claremont because I found out who I was and who I wanted to be.   The educational instruction I received was superb and I thank my teachers, especially Mr. Barton, who taught me English, and Mrs. Price, who taught Mathematics and Computer Science, because they really provided a solid foundation on which I was able to build and excel.  I became a teacher myself for about 10 years and used them as an example in order to instill hope and confidence in my students.   I also learned German from Mrs. Brocklehurst, which really came in handy when I found myself living and working in Germany for about two years in the 90’s.

I became confident in my ability to learn and master new things because of my exposure to so many activities here.  I played the violin in the orchestra led by Mr. Simpson and joined the choir. I was selected for the Netball Team, and I still to this day have no idea how that happened, lol! I did Classical Ballet, one of three students in the Upper School, and continued to dance until my second year in college. I got a role in the play, The Crucible, and that experience led to my auditioning for and getting a lead role in the College/Off Broadway production of The Fantasticks in New York City.  I won first place in the discus event at Sports Day, but completely have NOOO IDEA how that happened either!! I am pretty sure someone signed me up for the event as a joke and somehow the heavens smiled on me that day!  I have never touched a discus again, lol! I interned at a Barrister’s office for a week in London,  thanks to Mr. Surtees’ career initiative, and I have actually been an Attorney for 22 years now and head the legal division in my organization, so that worked out! Lol!

The accomplishment I am most proud of and that is closest to my heart was being the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Claremont Fan Court’s first Yearbook in 1987/88.  Alice F and I decided that we wanted to capture the wonderful experiences and memories at the school, not just ours but everyone who wanted to be included in the book.  We took the idea to one of the American teachers on staff at the time, Ms. Richmond, who agreed to be the staff advisor, as long as we could convince the school to allow this “American Idea” into the establishment.  I know we had to make a  presentation and i believe that we had to get students to sign a petition.  Whatever it was, we pulled it off, recruited several of our friends to join the Yearbook Club, assigned roles and responsibilities, and made our mark in the history of the school.  Jon R, Michelle M and I attended a Yearbook workshop to learn the ropes because we had NOOOOO idea what we were doing or getting ourselves into.  Virginia W-J and Ben M became the official Photo Editors and I have a feeling Virginia hasn’t put down a camera since and has turned it into an AMAZING career! Ben also has taken photos of several weddings over the years, mine included. (I believe the Yearbook was published for several years after I left and then evolved into the Claremont Newsletter and is now Claremont Connect.)  This Yearbook experience sparked something in me that has been a creative fire and outlet throughout my life.  Before becoming a lawyer, I did my Bachelors Degree in Business Communications, Graphic Arts and Design and still work as a freelance photobook designer capturing weddings and other special life events from time to time.  I love to tell people’s stories through photographs because it brings such joy.

I am the proud mother of two sons, who I have brought back with me to visit Claremont this summer, because this place laid the foundation upon which I was able to build a life for them.  I will be forever grateful for everything Claremont Fan Court School has done for me and for what it has meant in my life.”