One of the most anticipated moments in a person’s life is transitioning to high school. Every person I know tells their senior high school story as though their experience was that of anguish.

However, one thing they would all say proudly is that senior high school is the only place you would have the best time of your life and make memories which would last a lifetime.

The progression from basic school to senior high school was one I never wished to experience. But sooner than I expected, it was time to make the decision of choosing what school I would want to be placed into.

Janelle Eyram Fiagbenu: Life on the mountaintop; an Aburi Girl’s journey
Some prefects embarking on HOSA trip

At that point, the only thing I wanted was to stop going to school and go into fulltime photography but that did not seem possible.

I cared about just one out of the hundreds of secondary schools in Ghana.

Janelle Eyram Fiagbenu: Life on the mountaintop; an Aburi Girl’s journey
There was a massive change in protocols because we were sent to school at the time when the Covid-19 pandemic was at its peak

I had heard stories of how it sat magnificently on the mountaintop and how only a few extremely brilliant students were accepted into it, therefore making it a little community of empowered young girls, and I thought it couldn’t be more perfect.

When I got the message two days before the reporting date, I was not pleased and certainly not excited. I was made to cut all of my 12-inch afro – I swore I was never going to cut it on the day I left for school, and that broke me but no one really noticed.

Janelle Eyram Fiagbenu: Life on the mountaintop; an Aburi Girl’s journey
It was the last picture with my afro

As I read the boldly painted words – ‘ABURI GIRLS’ SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL’ and ‘Bepow So Hann, Nyame Ne Hene’, I remember promising myself to be the light that would shine the brightest.

Our first meal from the dining hall was typically outrageous. The prefects said it was rice and ‘kontomire’ stew but till now, I can’t seem to fathom what food was given to us.

I still tell the story of how one would turn to find girls crying uncontrollably at the sight of the food before them.

Everyone was missing home, their freedom and the food they will no longer have access to.

Janelle Eyram Fiagbenu: Life on the mountaintop; an Aburi Girl’s journey
Students pose for a picture

Anyone could tell who a Form One girl was by just looking at our heads. Yes, all our hair had been scraped to the barest minimum.

Again, we appeared confused and most of us did not know which compound was the main and which was the Irene Anderson compound.

Most of us acted like we had just hiked on Mount Everest whenever we used the Mckillican flyover. We were being yelled at from all corners of the School such that anyone who wasn’t stronghearted broke down and ended up in the infirmary.

Janelle Eyram Fiagbenu: Life on the mountaintop; an Aburi Girl’s journey

For others, the Aburi Girls’ campus environment was a bit difficult to adjust to; however, it was quite simple for me.

I knew I was going to survive the extreme cold, the terrible food and tiredness and the sudden shift from comfort.

The school has eight houses; Barradale, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Kilsyth, Silvia Asempa, Irene Anderson, Chapel and Royal Park House. I was put in Barradale House, which has blue as the house colour.

Janelle Eyram Fiagbenu: Life on the mountaintop; an Aburi Girl’s journey
Some Aburi Girls students

There was a massive change in protocol in the School because we reported at the time when the Covid-19 pandemic was still at its peak.

The staff always went to all length to uphold the hallmark of discipline in the school.

Janelle Eyram Fiagbenu: Life on the mountaintop; an Aburi Girl’s journey
2021/2022 Senior Prefects of Aburi Girls’ SHS

As a huge fan of nature, I believe Aburi Girls established a bond with nature – gardens with a variety of beautiful flowers and lovely trees is one of the things that screamed ‘bepow so hann’.

Every day, the flowers bloom lavishly and the gardens were cared for by the students.

Janelle Eyram Fiagbenu: Life on the mountaintop; an Aburi Girl’s journey
The school is adorned with beautiful gardens, ones that always hold and attract people’s interest

I have always been an extreme overachiever, dogmatic and reserved; therefore, I had trouble fitting in with the other girls.

Although the School was not as comfortable as I thought it would be, I was always chasing a goal or two and I wasn’t socialising enough.

Janelle Eyram Fiagbenu: Life on the mountaintop; an Aburi Girl’s journey
Janelle with friends on campus

At a point, having my camera with me in school was the only thing that kept me going.

Then I met my best friend and partner, Joycelyn Elli. Meeting another teen female photographer was inspiring.

Janelle Eyram Fiagbenu: Life on the mountaintop; an Aburi Girl’s journey
Joycelyn [left] and Janelle [right] on a school trip to Asesewa

Together, we covered school events, went on escapades and walks to capture the school environment and beautiful memories with friends.

I felt I was now seeing high school differently and redefining it for myself. In fact, my experiences were all normal until I started falling sick frequently.

Janelle Eyram Fiagbenu: Life on the mountaintop; an Aburi Girl’s journey
Some students of Aburi Girls’ SHS

From stress, to eating disorder to body pains…. I experienced it all.

Other memorable activities are the HOSA (Head of State Awards) trips, which also gave us some hiking, camping and events management experiences.

I wish to exude my colossal gratitude to Auntie Theo, the HOSA Coordinator; the trips are totally enjoyable and give us more opportunities to take pictures.

At the point where I was beginning to have a good time in school, I suddenly started having eating disorders and stress from all school-related activities.

Our school nurse, Mrs Mary Morrison, who always sacrifices a lot of her time and resources to ensure every student was safe and healthy, was extra supportive.

Janelle Eyram Fiagbenu: Life on the mountaintop; an Aburi Girl’s journey
Joycelyn Kumah Elli

During those moments, Joycelyn, Aunty Mary and other friends like Ruth, Leena, Kweinorki were my rock.

School officials like Auntie Justina, the Housemistress and several others have all been wonderful too.

Janelle Eyram Fiagbenu: Life on the mountaintop; an Aburi Girl’s journey
Janelle on a photography session

For me, the decision to attend Aburi Girls’ Senior High School is not one I will ever regret. This is because the institution has everything, including the perfect blend of firmness and elegance.

Although every school has its ups and downs, my personal experiences and the incredible training from Aburi Girls are the perfect guide to life.

Janelle Eyram Fiagbenu: Life on the mountaintop; an Aburi Girl’s journey
The experiences and memories of being students of Aburi Girls’ are unforgettable – the School remains a beautiful and a lovely place for growth every girl’s dreams and aspirations.

…and I believe every old and current student of Aburi Girls’ SHS will shine their light in every corner of the world, no matter where they are.

We are the light on the mountaintop and that is why we proudly say ‘Bepow So Hann.’