I am pleased to join the wide Savannah Primary School educators, students, parents and area residents, in celebrating the school’s 65th anniversary.
The evolution of education in this small but significant community certainly merits prominent representation under your theme: ‘Savannah through the Ages.’ We only have to consider the historic Savannah schoolhouse to recognize the importance of education in this area. It seems entirely fitting that the only traditional school building to be preserved by the National Trust, built by hand and sealed with wattle and daub, should stand a mere stone’s throw from today’s modern facility, both of them providing testimony to the continuity of our education system.
And on this special occasion, I am also mindful of the debt we owe to our earlier educators. Few of our primary schools are named after individuals and when we consider a list of past Savannah principals, outstanding educators such as the late Mrs. Carolyn Hislop Bodden, Mrs. Theoline McCoy, Mrs. Ormah ‘Sunbeam’ Bodden, Mrs. Edna Jackson, Mrs. Joanna Clarke, Mr. Ralph Beckles; Mrs. Dianne Montoya, Mrs. Maxine Roberts, and Mrs. Leonora Mendoza-Hydes, we can readily understand why it would be impossible to honour only one.
I also take pride that Caymanians, from decades past until the present, have valued and embraced formal education, ever drumming its importance into their children. Such attitudes were actually documented as far back as the 1880s. Upon his arrival in Cayman, teacher Thomas McDermott, noted, ‘I was struck by the bright and cheerful look of the children… and the intelligent manner in which they answered questions I put to them, and it was a strange experience to find that they refused a holiday which was offered to them at my request.’
Current challenges make great demands on our education system but Savannah understands the value of a government / school / community partnership, one in which everyone unites to achieve common goals.
I emphasize this because every school needs to be both an extension, and an integral part, of its surrounding community. I am pleased to note that Savannah, and the outlying areas that support this school, are testament to this principle.
As such, I also make special mention of the Savannah Primary School’s PTA, for its membership has also played a major role in the school’s success.
I of course support you and wish you every success. I also commend the unfailing dedication of current Principal Mrs. Lorna Blackman and her loyal staff. I am mindful that it is efforts such as theirs that takes students and a building and generates within them, the spirit that characterizes a truly outstanding school.
My best wishes for another successful 65 years of successful teaching and learning for Savannah Primary School.