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Celebrating 70 years of Bermuda Institute

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If you’re looking for success stories that have come out of the Bermuda Institute of Seventh-Day Adventists, you need not look too far, or wide.

In fact, they are everywhere — sitting in the House of Assembly like Premier Craig Cannonier and Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell, running businesses like Digicel CEO Wayne Caines and educating a new generation of young people like Lou Matthews and Lynette Woods.

This month the school is celebrating it’s 70th Anniversary with special events to honour its alumni, including a music and drama performance, church service and banquet dinner.

Current school principal Lois Tucker said it was an important time for past and present students to reflect on the school’s role in the community over the last seven decades.

“The school has changed so much over the years that we would like for our alumni to see the changes and remember they have been a vital part of the development of our school,” Dr Tucker said.

“We stand on the shoulders of our alumni and we would like for them to come back and rekindle memories and help to take us to an even better future.”

She was herself a student at the school from 1957-1968, before coming back to BI as an English teacher. She went on to teach at the Bermuda College for some years, before returning to tackle the role as the school principal in 2002, taking over from Sheila Holder.

Dr Tucker said the most rewarding part of running her alma mater has been seeing the growth and sharing in the successes of the students.

She recalled a time when the property was filled with nothing more than spice trees and poinsettia plants. Today there is a vibrant school community, which prides itself on its flourishing band and past wins in the annual Schools Quiz Contest.

Bermuda Institute first opened on January 4, 1943, with educator Adrian Simons serving as the school’s first teacher. It had just 26 students who met in the basement of the old Southampton Seventh Day Adventist Church, near Jews Bay — back then it was simply named the ‘Church School’.

It also filled a need in the Seventh-Day Adventist Community to have a formal educational institution that taught young people about the Gospel. Their goal has always been to offer a complete education that prepared students not only academically, but for a life of spiritual service. This explains why the school’s motto has been ‘Building Lives for Eternity’.

Dr Tucker said one of the standout moments in the school’s history was when it formed its first band. “We started it one year in the fall and by Christmas it felt like they had been together for a very long time and there was heart in it,” the principal said.

The band was led by musician Leonard Cann in the 1980s.

Another early “wow” moment in the school’s history was when teacher Virginia Hingley taught the students how to play keyboard in the 60s.

Under the direction of Mrs Hingley and Roy Malcolm, students took to the Bermuda stage and BI became known as “a place where music education flourished,” Dr Tucker said.

It was also during that time the school was given its official name — before it had been known by a host of nicknames like ‘Seventh Day’ and ‘Sandringham’ (after the estate the school is located in). After that a “sense of pride was born there”, said Dr Tucker.

In celebration of the school’s milestone anniversary, they will be hosting a Spring Fair at Bermuda Institute this Sunday, from 10am until 6pm.

There will be a variety of activities, a health booth for free screenings and blood pressure checks and food vendors selling savoury and sweet treats will be available.

Entertainment will be provided by the school’s steel band, sign language team and choirs. Their male-singing group En Harmony and the Sandys Middle School Drum Line will also be performing.

In honour of the special anniversary, students from each class have been asked to come up with games for a specific decade — such as hop scotch, jump rope and marbles. The young people will also be responsible for decorating that particular games booth, said Corey Williams, President of the Home and School Association (equivalent to the PTA).

“It’s going to be a fun-filled day. The admission is $1 and you can come in and look at all the different activities we will have.

“We are trying to make it affordable for everyone because we have a lot of our seniors who come as well and you know the economy [has been hard on some people].

“We are not trying to break the bank, but we are trying to raise money for the school to pay for new lunch benches and more playground equipment.”

More specifically for the alumni, BI will be hosting a four day event starting with a marathon walk/run at Jews Bay on May 16 at 10am.

People also have the option of riding a bike or hoping on a train from Jews Bay to Bermuda Institute, where they will have an opening ceremony and an alumni football game, starting at 2pm.

On Friday, May 17, there will be an alumni ‘Singspiration’ event featuring a host of song and acting numbers by both current students and alumni. This is a free event taking place in the school’s auditorium starting at 7pm.

The next day there will be a combined church service with the Southampton Seventh Day Adventist Church and Restoration Ministries, starting at 11am. The message will be shared by guest speaker Pastor David Steele, who graduated with the Class of 1993.

On the night of May 18, there will be an alumni gospel concert featuring ‘Committed’ and Amber Bullock, a winner of gospel competition ‘Sunday Best’. The event is sponsored by Digicel; with tickets costing $30 for general admission, $50 for patrons and $100 for sponsors.

Owen Simons, the school’s vice President, said one of the highlights of the celebrations will be the Awards Banquet, taking place at the Southampton Princess on May 19.

“It will be honouring present teachers, long serving teachers and former principals. There will also be awards given for the ‘Alumni of the Year’ and the ‘Young Alumni’, someone who graduated in the last ten to 12 years, who has given back to the community and is successful in their chosen career.

“A current student will also be receiving a scholarship to attend college from the alumni and we are hoping the class mates or families will get together to buy tables to support this event.

“This is the first time we have had a big banquet like this and we are very excited about that and hoping it will be a successful wat to honour the people who have worked so hard for the school over the last 70 years.”

For more information on the upcoming celebration and events, visit the Bermuda Institute Alumni Association’s Facebook page.

Useful website: www.bermudainstitute.com

Bermuda Institute - An aerial view of the school campus from 1965-1969.
Principals from the eras - Sheila Holder (left), who served as school principal from 1994 until 2002, is pictured with Adrian Simons the school’s first principal.
Bermuda Quiz Contest Winners (1989) The school has fared will in the quiz competitions over the years.
The man who started it all - teacher and first pricipal Adrian Simons. The school is now celebrating its 70th Anniversary
The Victory Voices Trio (1968) with Edrene DeShiled, Pamela Scott and Suzette Flood. The Bermuda Institute, which is celebrating its 70th Anniversary has a long tradition for thriving in music and band.
Bermuda Institute - An aerial view of the school campus from 1965-1969.

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Published April 22, 2013 at 2:19 pm (Updated April 22, 2013 at 2:19 pm)

Celebrating 70 years of Bermuda Institute

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