Under the theme, ‘Towards a Common Future’, Commonwealth Day was celebrated in grand style on the grounds of Jack Hayward Junior High School (JHJHS) on Monday afternoon/ Despite inclement weather, student, teachers and staff of the learning institution all played strategic roles for the special assembly, where not only was a longstanding educator who in a matter of weeks will officially retire, but their very own principal Shennan Rolle was also honoured during the event. A surprise to Rolle, she shared that she was indeed honoured and grateful for the recognition.
Principal Rolle stated, “Today we are hosting our Commonwealth Day Assembly. This is the day where we join the other 52 member countries, to be a part of the celebrations. Today we also invited the former District Superintendent of Grand Bahama, Bimini and The Cays, Mary Cooper, who recently retired. We invited her here today to pay tribute to her. Surprisingly, this is also the day that the staff and students also chose to pay tribute to myself.
“It is very important for the school to participate in such activities because we want to sensitize the children that we are not alone in The Bahamas. There are other countries that are experiencing the same challenges and we want to join with them in developing systems to address societal ills, whether it is the environment, crime, whatever it may be, we want to join other member countries around the world to address those issues.
“We also highlight other Commonwealth countries that are a part of our staff. We have members of staff that are also a part of Commonwealth countries and this is a time where they showcase their cultural talents, and events. This is a time where we want all to feel united and a part.
“I am humbled that the staff has chosen this day to show their appreciation to me as the principal. The theme for this Commonwealth Day is ‘Towards a Common Future’. We are all working together to educate our children so that they can have a bright future; one common goal, one common future.
As this year’s Commonwealth Day Assembly was spearheaded by JHJHS’s Social Science Department, subject coordinator Shantel Evans shared that her department has a list of activities for the entire week, for their students to participate in.
Evans, Subject Coordinator, and Head of the Social Science Department, inclusive of Religious Knowledge, Social Studies and Family Life expressed, “This event marks the beginning of our Social Studies week. We celebrate Social Studies week from March 12-16. During every Commonwealth Assembly we honour past teachers who would have moved on; this year we are honouring Mary Cooper and also a surprise honoree, our principal Shennan Rolle, who has labored here so faithfully, and with such excellence for the past four years now. We thought that now is the time to give her her flowers while she can still smell them,”
She also outlined additional activities that the school will engage in, in commemoration of Social Studies week.
“On Tuesday we will be hosting our student breakfast where the students will be treated to stew conch, and chicken souse. On Wednesday we will have a display of our students work, all of the projects that that students completed on Commonwealth countries will be displayed on our Social Studies block. On Thursday morning we will be having our speech competition. It is an annual speech competition that we started last year. The children enjoyed the opportunity to showcase their talent by way of speech; therefore we are doing it again this year.
“On Friday we will have our field trip; last year we went into the west. This year we are going into the eastern district. Believe it or not, there are a lot of children that live in Freeport but have never been into the east. They have never been to the Lucayan National Park or to the farm in High Rock. We want to expose them to our indigenous places so that they will be familiar with what our country has to offer because it is not only there for our tourists to enjoy but it is also there for us.
“We are really excited for the activities planned this year. We are excited for the opportunity to really be a blessing unto our principal. She has done so much for us, not only for the students but for the teachers as well, therefore we decided that it was time for us to give back. That was one of our high points for this year’s activities.
There were a number of sponsors that we called upon and we just want to thank them all, for making this event possible. We pray God’s blessing upon their businesses,” stated Evans.
Honoree Mary Cooper, expressed her sincere appreciation to the JHJHS family for honouring her in such a tangible way.
“First of all I thank God that He has brought me to this new chapter in my life called retirement; I am really enjoying it. I am grateful to Shennan Rolle, the teachers and students of Jack Hayward Junior High School (JHJHS) for thinking of me and for giving me this special honour today.
Officially, April 3 will be Cooper’s last day of employment with the Ministry of Education. She has been employed with the Ministry of Education for the past 43 years.