Edelweiss Kruss, a lifetime at St. Paul’s School

A group of St. Paul’s School pupils have created a memory book with stories told by the British Society’s elderly. One of these is Edelweiss Kruss, a lifelong learner and long-serving staff member at St. Paul’s.

Edelweiss was closely involved with St. Paul’s for 63 years, 3 months and 15 days and has experienced at first-hand much of St. Paul’s rich history and all the changes that have made it the school it is today. 

In her narrative, she recounts the moments she holds dear and simultaneously teaches readers about the school’s past. We invite you to read some of these memories.

A narrative by Edelweiss Lunardi Kruss to F4 pupils

August 1951, my mother decided to come to Brazil with myself and my second brother while my eldest brother who had left the Navy by then would stay in Glasgow (my native city) and look after the small business we had and which was a guarantee to return if we all resolved to go back to the UK.

Our class was a very small one and my two special friends were: Sonia Andrade Dias who now lives in the countryside in Mococa on the family’s farm and Marie Louise Lateiner who came to Brazil about six years ago with her husband and visited me in the library where I was working. We were overjoyed at seeing each other after so many years and enjoyed lunch in the school cafeteria.

Edelweiss and her friends

During two years my mother managed financially to keep me at school but, in 1954, when the girls section of the school moved permanently to St. Paul’s at Rua Juquiá, the school became co-educational and more expensive. It was then that my mother approached Canon Townsend (the minister who occasionally visited St. Paul’s on Tuesday mornings and conducted the morning assemblies) and explained our situation, thus, I was given a “scholarship” to study free of charge.

Mr W. Bell was our math teacher and we would never dare attend his lessons without having the learning material otherwise we would be given the following famous line “I must not forget to do my math homework unless I have been given to permission to do so, which most probably will never be given”. My art teacher was Miss Margaret Mee who adored plants and nature so we spent most of our time outside in different areas drawing plants and trees. When she left St. Paul’s she went to the Amazon and stayed there for a long period looking for exotic plants which she drew and painted, a lot of which only bloom at night, and she traveled along the rivers at night to capture these. Some of her paintings still adorn the walls at St. Paul’s today. Mr J. Evans was our geography teacher and always came to school on Saturday mornings to play cricket with the boys, all impeccably dressed in white uniforms. Mrs. E Embacher was our sports teacher and mother of Mrs Karin Magalhães who taught at the school many years later. Mrs A. Cammiade taught us history and wrote a book called “Napoleon”.

The Houses which existed then were Oxford and Cambridge and everyone wore a small metal badge, which had the house colour on the outside rim, either dark blue or light blue. I belonged to Oxford House and was the captain of the house and I still possess the badge. In later years, as the number of pupils increased a third house was created, Edinburgh. The boys had separate houses: Tudor, Stuart and Kent. Further ahead it was decided that there should only be two houses for boys and girls, thus York and Lancaster appeared (in remembrance of the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster), these again were eliminated and what prevails now are: Stuart, Tudor and Windsor for boys and girls alike.

Old Pauleans’ day is also an annual festival held in May, a day when all old Pauleans assemble at the school for a delicious barbecue especially prepared by the kitchen staff and the scrumptious tea later in the afternoon. A day when one meets lots of ex-pupils whom I taught and also when we all go down “memory lane” and reminisce about the good “old days”.

There were many school plays during my time at school: Cats, The King and I, Oliver, The Tempest, Grease etc, but the one which I will never forget is “My Fair Lady” in 1979 directed by Mrs Debora Tuthill, the music teacher, and Mr Jim Colby who came especially from the USA to work together with her. It was a great success.

A new "My Fair Lady", 2017
A new “My Fair Lady”, 2017

People have asked me what my best memories of St. Paul’s are. My answer is, “Three headmasters”: Mr. A.S. Ross who gave me the liberty in teaching when he gave me permission to continue with the two Junior six classes and take them through Form 1 where also they would start learning to write in French. This meant of course more responsibility, but also showed that my previous classes had been successful.  Secondly, Mr Gypsin, who had welcomed me to return to St. Paul’s in 1988 to work in the Senior library twice a week. Thirdly, Mr.C.McCann, who had invited me to read a passage from the Bible during the carol service. He was a most kind and thoughtful gentleman and I deeply appreciated his kind gesture. All these memories will be cherished forever!

Old Pauleans’ Day is also an annual festival held in May, a day when all Old Pauleans assemble at the school for a delicious barbecue especially prepared by the kitchen staff and the scrumptious tea later in the afternoon. A day when one meets lots of ex-pupils whom I taught and also when we all go down “memory lane” and reminisce about the ”good old days”.

Old Paulean Day in 2019
Old Paulean Day in 2019

I will always be extremely grateful for what St. Paul’s did for me throughout all these years and I have learned to be loyal to the school, the place where I both studied and worked. Everything I learned at St. Paul’s was of great importance and although it has changed both physcially and academically I certainly hope that the “values” and friendliness” will always remain.

The full narrative can be read in the memory book, that will be available by the end of this term (if you want to have a copy, please send a message to oldpauleansociety@stpauls.br).