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The history of primary schools slated for possible closure

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St David’s Primary School (File photograph)
Elliot Primary School (File photograph)
St Georges Preparatory School (File photograph)
Northlands Primary School (File photograph)
Prospect Primary School (File photograph)

Yesterday, The Royal Gazetteprofiled the history of four primary schools slated for closure under Government’s education reform proposals. Today, we feature the other five which could shut. Sarah Lagan reports.

Elliot Primary School – 1846

Principal: Kimberley Creighton

Motto: Success Comes with Doing Our Best

Nearly all schools in Bermuda were private prior to 1840. There were two missionary societies of England – the society for the Preparation of the Gospel and the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge which provided grants to schools in Bermuda. The SPCK provided a building, the original Elliot School on Jubilee Road in Devonshire.

Elliot Primary School was opened in 1848 and was named after the then Governor Captain Charles Elliot with Rebecca A Newbold as teacher. There were 34 students of both sexes enrolled.

Records from 1854 indicate the subjects taught at Elliot School were spelling, reading, grammar, arithmetic, geography, church catechism and sewing.

The population of Bermuda was growing and demand outgrew the building.

In 1915, a group of influential parishioners planned a new building at the junction of Jubilee Road and Parsons Lane in Devonshire. The headmistress of the new school was Rosalie Pearman who taught there from 1925 to 1960.

The population again surpassed the capacity and larger premises were built.

The building at Jubilee Road is now in use as the Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation but is still affectionately referred to as the “Old Elliot”.

In 1951, the Bermuda Government acquired five acres of land on Hermitage Road in Devonshire which had been a part of Devonshire College lands, bequeathed in 1653 for school purposes. This is where the present-day school stands.

Part of mission: “It is our purpose to educate every student and ensure that our diverse population reaches a high level of academic success as determined by local and international standards.”

St George’s Preparatory School – 1876

Principal: Gail Smith

Motto: Towards the Light

St George’s Preparatory School opened on January 10, 1876 with just one room. It was located at the former Sunday school Ebenezer Methodist Church. The initial trustees were Albert Inglis, RL Brown, George Spurling and George Boyle.

In 1880, it was officially recognised by the Board of Education and named St George’s Grammar School. It closed between 1885 and 1910 and reopened with 34 students.

In 1912, the school moved to Park Villa, across from its current location with 44 students.

The present school was built in 1923 through the efforts of St George’s families.

In 1966, St George’s Grammar School stopped taking senior students and became a junior school. It became known by its present name and is the island’s only aided primary school. The school is recognised island-wide for having students with exemplary behaviour and high academic standards.

Gail Smith, principal, said; ‘The children are primarily from the St. George’s area and there are many deep ties to the community. The school has a feel of calmness, with an emphasis on the importance of happy children and adults.”

Part of mission: “To ensure that students realise their optimum potential through first class education, characterised by quality instruction and diverse methods, in a positive, supportive and disciplined atmosphere.”

St David’s Primary School – 1893

Principal: Gladstone Thompson

Motto: Learning Lights the Way

St David’s Primary School is on the northern bank of what used to be a waterway flowing from Red Hole into the Great Bay.

This multicultural school began as a one-room wooden building belonging to St Luke’s AME Church and was founded in 1893. It has been noted as the oldest integrated school in Bermuda.

By 1909, there were 23 students enrolled. The school was headed by Arthur Hodgson who served as principal from 1900 to 1910. Notable students at that time were George Fielding Swan, a former Cup Match player, Phillip Burch and Alexander Hodgson.

St David’s Primary moved to its current location in 1949 under Hilton Richardson who was principal from 1910 to 1917 and again from 1939 to 1949.

A gymnasium doubling as an assembly hall was added and came into use in 1967.

In 1974, the historical Pilot Station was annexed for use as the infants’ department. Further extensions were completed in 1991 when three new classrooms, a staffroom and offices were added to the physical plant.

Its principal Gladstone Thompson described St David’s Primary School as “a community school in the truest sense.

“It is the only primary school in St David’s and continues to be the school of choice for generations of St David’s families and newer residents.”

The school’s motto “Learning Lights the Way” is a reflection of one of the community’s landmarks, the St David’s Lighthouse.

Part of mission: “To create a positive learning environment and provide each child with opportunities for maximum social and academic growth.”

Northlands Primary School – 1932

Principal: Linda Holdipp

Motto: Today We Follow, Tomorrow We Lead

Northlands Primary School opened in 1932 with Ms Ismay Hinson as its first principal. Northlands remained a primary school until 1972. It then became Northlands Secondary School until 1997 and then reverted to Northlands Primary.

The school theme is Respect Myself, Respect Others, Respect My School. Northlands house colours are blue and gold.

Part of mission: “To be the leading, culturally diverse and family-oriented school.”

Prospect Primary School – 1958

Principal: Holly Richardson

School motto: Seek Wisdom

Prospect Primary School was formed in 1958 through the amalgamation of Pembroke Infants School and the Central School (now Victor Scott School). Mary Louise Williams fulfilled her ambition of consolidating the departments the year that she retired.

Mildred Paynter, formally principal of West Pembroke School, became the school’s first principal in 1958 and was joined by five members of staff.

Housed in Barrack Rooms recently vacated by the retiring British Garrison, it was one of the largest schools on the island and enrolled 704 students in its first week. There it remained for 15 years. Ms Paynter retired in 1963. It moved to its present site on Friendship Lane in September 1973 under the principalship of Cleveland Crichlow.

Prospect has four school houses – blue, red, yellow and green.

Principal quote: “At Prospect, we are dedicated to helping all children reach their full potential. Our aim is to work with them academically, spiritually, socially and emotionally.”

Sources: The Royal Gazette’s Schools Salute; school principals, Ministry of Education.

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Published March 11, 2021 at 8:04 am (Updated March 11, 2021 at 1:17 pm)

The history of primary schools slated for possible closure

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