John Gray students put Caymanian heritage on display

A steel pan performance, an art exhibition and a thatch display were among the highlights of Heritage Day observed by students at John Gray High School on Wednesday. 

Cadena Suarez of the Humanities Department said the school marks Heritage Day every year to remind students of the importance of Cayman’s history and culture. 

Hundreds of students flooded the school hall on Wednesday to take a look at the unique and colorful displays of Cayman’s culture.  

Students were asked to pick a school subject area they like and then find a way to display how that subject adds value to local heritage.  

“The English department has done their own poems reflecting the history and culture of the island,” said Ms. Suarez.  

Art students displayed an exhibition of their work, math students showed the mathematics involved in designing Cayman’s traditional catboat, and thatch club students showcased their creations. 

Student Karis Ebanks-Minzett, who helped out with the thatch display, said, “I love Heritage Day because … it shows people what our culture is like.” 

The thatch crafts on display by the students were made of Silver Thatch Palm. According to the National Trust, to make thatch rope, women and children would cut new unopened leaves and hang them out to dry before they were split into strands. Three strands were then twisted together to make a rope on an ingenious handmade machine which was comprised of three parts – the winch, cob and cart.  

Reintroducing the art of thatching to the younger generation is one of the ways to keep Cayman heritage alive, organizers of the day’s events hope. 

“Part of our mission is to cultivate a strong ethos of national pride, and this is one way that the school can help fulfill that mission,” said Ms. Suarez. “Hopefully our students will walk away with a more successful and meaningful experience of what it means to celebrate our heritage and culture.”  

Heritage-Day-John-Gray

Students Ayanna Ngyou, Keylin Trochez-Lopez, Dehalle Bryan, and Karis Ebanks-Minzett were in charge of the silver thatch display. – PHOTO: SAMANTHA BONHAM