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A school at the heart of St David’s

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St David’s Primary School. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

St David’s Primary School plays a vital role in a close-knit and historically self-contained community that should not be lost, according to former pupils.

Russell Richardson, whose grandfather was former principal Hilton C. Richardson, described the school as the hub of the St David’s community.

“This is where we educate St David’s Islanders,” he told The Royal Gazette. “We’re the only school in St David’s. We have a vested interest in the community about it.”

Mr Richardson, whose son also teaches at the school, said it is at St David’s Primary School where children learn about the history and culture of St David’s.

“We have a strong culture in St David’s of fishing, farming and family. We work together as a community.

Mr Richardson explained that the community was cut off from the mainland until a bridge was built in 1934.

He added that St David’s was therefore a self-contained community, of which St David’s Primary School played an important part.

Local resident Anthony Foggo also stressed the school’s importance to the local community, adding that closing it would be “outrageous”.

“We’ve always lived very independently and this school is part of our independence,” Mr Foggo said.

“We’ve always been close, knitted together.

“We’ve done everything together. We still keep that same mentality.”

Mr Foggo added that the school has produced many notable people and been a positive influence on the community.

St David’s Islander, Terlena Murphy, agreed, describing the school as a “cornerstone” and “foundation” of the local community.

She said the school plays an important role because the children of St David’s spend their formative years there.

According to Mr Richardson, there used to be three schools on the island but only St David’s Primary School remains.

It dates back to 1893, when it was a single wooden room in St Luke AME Church.

Mr Richardson’s grandfather became the school’s principal in 1910 and during his time a new school building was constructed.

In 1949, he led his students on a march from the old wooden building to the new one next to the St David’s County Cricket Club, with which the school has always had a close relationship.

President of the club and former student, Otis Minors, said: “From my perspective, it’s a centre of pride because that’s where you start.

“That was our foundation. It means a lot to most of us. It would be a big loss for the school to be closing.”

Mr Minors, whose children also attend the school, explained that St David’s Primary School and the cricket club share the use of the government-owned playing field.

“The school is always the number one priority,” he said, adding that club members also readily help out with any sporting activities.

“We look out for each other. It takes a village to raise a child and St David’s is a prime example of that.

“For them to even consider closing the primary school is detrimental to the community.

“They’re actually doing a great job at St David’s Primary teaching our kids. It will really hurt us.”

Mr Minors said closing the school would mean a longer commute for children, who can walk or catch the bus to St David’s Primary School.

But he said that closing the school would also mean that there is no primary school education available for a growing community in that area.

St David’s Primary School bus stop, which reads “St David’s Primary School Shine Your Light”. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)