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St David’s should become a parish, say school defenders

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The history and legacy panel for St David’s Primary School: Russell Richardson, left, with Doris Foley, Ceble Crockwell, Kelly Pitcher and Henry Dowling (File photograph by Sarah Lagan)

Members of the community fighting to save St David’s Primary School from closure have spoken out about the possibility of the St George’s island of St David’s being elevated to a parish in its own right.

As part of the Government’s education reform, there should be one school per parish with the exception of Pembroke.

St David’s Primary School was earmarked for closure because it sits in the parish of St George’s.

Ceble Crockwell, who sits on the history and legacy panel making the case for keeping the school, said while the idea of St David’s becoming a parish was not part of its formal submission to the Government, it should remain a consideration.

Lovitta Foggo, MP for St David’s, said she had always supported the idea — while former St David’s MP Suzann Holshouser said the area should get the recognition it deserves.

The Government set up the History and Legacy Committee after a backlash from members of the public who called its original scoring criteria flawed and requested a history and legacy component.

The Government agreed to rescore those schools in parishes with more than one school and is expected to release its decision in short order.

Ms Crockwell said: “We did not focus on the parish argument in our submission to the History and Legacy Committee — we stuck to the points they were most interested in.

“We didn’t want to intertwine the two. It is a hot topic in St David’s but we want to do it properly.

“If anything, we said we are going to form a committee and look at the legal side of establishing a parish, what support we need from the community, from the Government.

“It’s something St David’s islanders are interested in but it isn’t going to happen overnight.

“It is something we can look into as a community and are going to have meetings to find out if it can be done.”

Ms Crockwell added that the committee was “not looking for any shortcuts” to save the school.

Lovitta Foggo (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Ms Foggo said that as area MP, she was duty-bound to respond to concerns with respect to the school closing and supported the idea of St David’s as a parish.

She said: “The public has made it clear the school is important to that community and I stand with my constituents, working with them to try and bring the outcome that they are working tirelessly towards.

“I have always, along with Arthur Pitcher, former Progressive Labour Party MP, stood in support in St David’s being a tenth parish. He was the first to advocate for it being the tenth parish and Suzann Holshouser was also an advocate when she was MP.

“I see nothing wrong with St David’s becoming its own parish but it requires much work from a constitutional perspective to make that happen.

“I believe that geographically, there is an argument for why there should be a school in that area. When there was talk of closing the preschool I worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure it stayed open.

“The community needs St David’s Primary School and I stand by my community. Two of my grandchildren received an excellent elementary education from St David’s Primary.”

OBA Candidate Suzann Roberts-Holshouser (Photo by Mark Tatem)

Norwood’s Survey in the 17th century identifies St David’s as an area measuring 527 acres.

Ms Holshouser, who during her tenure campaigned for the area to be the tenth parish, said it was not until 1934 that the Severn Bridge was built connecting St David’s islanders to the rest of the island.

She said: “It cannot be denied that for St David’s islanders, life would have been different. They needed to work together as a community, like I am sure the rest of Bermuda did, but they only had each other.

“For some, the building of the runway changed their livelihood and their lives, and that of their families. They were given money for their land but the freedom to make that decision was taken from them.”

She said the islanders’ most valuable item was mullet roe, called “St David’s Gold” and often used for barter.

“They had no use for currency other than their trips to St George’s.”

Ms Holshouser said the link between ancestral St David’s Islanders and the Mashantucket Pequot was no longer denied but “celebrated and taught”.

“It is time that St David’s be given the recognition as a parish that it so deserves, not because bank loans were denied them because of their address, not because they were laughed and jeered at because they ‘looked different’, but recognised for their individual culture that evolved as a result of necessity.”

Ms Holshouser said it is important for education about the true history of St David’s to make the community “stronger and more united with understanding”.

She added: “It is for this very reason that keeping St David’s Primary School open for the children of St David’s is paramount to beginning the first steps of a better understanding of a community and what was at the very core.

“No currency of today is better than the currency of yesterday — St David’s Gold.”

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Published April 23, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated April 24, 2024 at 8:02 am)

St David’s should become a parish, say school defenders

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