We wanted to do something positive for our schools
A joint effort paid off for the TN Tatem Middle School family on Bermuda Day.
The group took home the grand prize for their float which pictured a gombey dancing near a moongate, and bore the slogan: Our Island pride and so much more.
The words were a fitting tribute to the hard work put in, said school principal Francine McMahon.
“After hearing about so much negativity in the schools it motivated us to accomplish something positive for our school system,” she said. “The pride the students had after [coming up with the idea for] the float was very encouraging to continue on building the float. They were in it, to win it.”
Parents, teachers and students spent a month building the float for the annual Bermuda Day Parade, putting in additional efforts after school and on weekends to get it done.
The Department of Community & Cultural Affairs named it the best out of several notable entries, giving it the coveted Premier's Award.
TN Tatem won the award two years ago, but was unable to participate in 2012 which left them “a little disappointed” but determined to win with their next entry.
The school was inspired to enter a float this year after taking home top honours in the Interschool Track & Field Championships for three years running.
The actual idea for the float came from a student who found a drawing online, Mrs McMahon said.
Reluctant to duplicate someone else's work, she decided to revise the online version so it was better suited to Bermuda's parade.
A number of parents helped with the construction including Asim Butterfield, Andrew Carmichael, Livingston Wedderburn and Sisira Liyanage, the principal stated.
Former parent Kim Spring also donated her time as did Donald McMahon and staff members Betty Rego and Richard Klesniks.
They built the winning entry with twigs, rice, bamboo, beans, the bark of palm trees and other items found on school grounds. The main frame of the float was built out of styrofoam.
Said Mrs McMahon: “We expected to win this year's award. Even though we expected to win, it was more important to me that we benefited from one another.”
She said she was very proud to see educators portrayed in a different light.
“The parade was very encouraging based on those who did enter,” she said. “I would like to see more schools enter their float, whether it's primary, middle or senior school.
“I would also like to thank Community & Cultural Affairs, who highlighted TN Tatem success. This could not have been possible without the support of Hunt's. They provided the flat bed and trucking of the float to the parade, during the parade and from the parade back to TN Tatem.”