Veterans reward students for learning about heritage

Chief Education Officer Lyneth Monteith receives the first pin from veterans Paul Ebanks and Andrew McLaughlin. - Photo: Jewel Levy

Government primary schools are being awarded a mahogany shield by the Cayman Islands Veterans Association for learning about the island’s heritage and history.

Association Vice President Paul Ebanks came up with the idea after he heard about a mythical shield kept by Edna M. Moyle Primary School, for excellence.

While he was not certain if the tale was true or false, he was inspired to use that same idea as a reward to create a healthy competitive spirit among schools.

Edna M. Moyle Primary School was the first to receive the shield in 2017.

The shield is made from mahogany saved from Mr. Ebanks’s grandfather Ernest Ebanks’s old house. Stainless steel plates were donated by a North Side businessman to create the nameplate with names of the schools.

“At last, the story of the mythical shield can be brought to life,” Mr. Ebanks said. “It should only be made from Cayman mahogany,” he added.

The shield is given to primary schools for their successful involvement in the “veterans question-and-answer exercise,” and for their competitive spirit. Students who are successful will also be given a shield in the form of a pin for their participation.

“It’s about assisting the students in learning a bit more about the past, giving them some information about what happened during those years and about the persons who served,” Mr. Ebanks said.

Mr. Ebanks, along with Veterans Association President Andrew McLaughlin, presented Chief Education Officer Lyneth Monteith with the first pin for government’s participation in the exercise at the government education offices on Wednesday.

“We always hear our children do not know about our past. How do we teach them about the past so it’s not boring? … This exercise will expand their minds with what the veterans have done for these islands and its heritage,” Ms. Monteith said.

The shield is made from mahogany saved from the house of Paul Ebanks’s grandfather.

She said when she attended school they taught history, but it was from reading a book which made it difficult to identify with. By the veterans going into the schools and speaking directly with students, they hope the students’ competitive nature and curiosity will be piqued enough for them to go and investigate more.

“It’s not just sitting in a classroom reading or studying a book … it’s about having those real-life experiences through conversations with the older persons in the community and the appreciation of the veterans for what they did for these islands.”

She said it’s very important that the older generation impart that knowledge of history to students.