CedarBridge celebrates Founder’s Day
CedarBridge Academy celebrated 20 years of fighting “the good fight of excellence” at its Founder’s Day celebrations yesterday.
Master of ceremonies Dean Foggo introduced a host of speakers at the Ruth Seaton James Centre to honour the school, including principal Kalmar Richards, former deputy principal Rosemary Matthews, Minister for Education Diallo Rabain, former Minister of Education Gerald Simons and students past and present.
The team that helped earn CedarBridge its re-accreditation in an international standards programme were also honoured in a special awards ceremony.
Speeches were accompanied by student performances including a spoken-word piece by the drama department, a song by S4 student Chennin Fray-Waldron who took centre stage for a powerful solo performance and the CedarBridge Academy School Band.
Ms Richards, who was praised for her uncompromising vision, said: “I am most thankful for our past and present students who have entrusted us with their education, the students who have embraced our mission and who are choosing to walk in the journey of excellence now and as adults.”
Mr Rabain highlighted the success of CedarBridge and paid tribute to prominent teachers, including cousins Edith and Matilda Crawford who operated schools on Tills Hill and Court Street.
He said: “To understand the potential of our future, we have to understand the strength of the foundation upon which our presence is built.”
Mr Rabain added the Crawford cousins “were both committed to education and devoted their life to teaching”.
He said: “The sacrifices that both Edith and Matilda Crawford made to provide black Bermudian students with a quality education was unparalleled and sacrificial.
“Parents of that time knew that the futures of their children were predicated on getting a quality education — as a result there were always more students than schools to accommodate that.
“From the 1920s to 1931, Edith and Matilda both made financial and personal sacrifices to provide an education to their students. In 1939, their sacrifices and ambitions bore fruit as the first mega-school, named the New Central School, with 900 students, 20 classrooms and an assembly hall ushered in a new era for education in Bermuda.”
Mr Simons talked about Bermuda’s “selective school system” in the past, when the secondary school entry exam determined children’s futures.
A total of 12 recommendations were born out of a special committee, with one of the major recommendations being every child should have the an equal right to education.
Mr Simons said he decided as minister to close Devonshire Academy, a move met with marches and protests.
But he added that, despite fears about a mega-school in Bermuda, CedarBridge was now seen as “one of the best schools anywhere in the western world” from a construction perspective and an “absolutely superb” institution.
Mr Simons said that problems in the education system were not new.
He added: “The more things change, the more they stay the same”.
He said he gave one of his first speeches as minister 31 years ago at Paget Primary School.
Mr Simons added he told the school: “If education is a mess a year from now, you know whose job is on the line.”
Mr Simons underlined the high number of education ministers in recent years and said he had not been a “fly-by minister”.
He also stressed the importance of curriculum and teacher training, and the need to make sure that all staff are held accountable.
Mr Simons said: “If they don’t do their jobs they should be dealt with.”
Former pupil Shekar Robinson, who changed his major from actuarial science to physics, told students they should always have a goal and follow their dreams.
The school also officially opened its horticultural programme garden, designed to give pupils experience in growing their own food and hydroponics — the growth of plants using nutrients in a water solvent rather than soil.
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