Official Opening of Anatol Rodgers High School - Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham

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January 20, 2012

The Honourable T. Desmond Bannister, Minister of Education Mrs. Elma Garraway, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education; Mr. Lionel Sands, Director of Education Mr. Julian Anderson, District Superintendent, Mrs. Myrtle McPhee, Principal, Anatol Rodgers High School Other Ministry of Education Officials and Officers: The family of the late Mrs. Anatol Rodgers School Board Members and P.T.A. Officers Staff and Students; Ladies and gentlemen, Good Morning. I am pleased to be here this morning for the official opening of the Anatol Rodgers High School. It was shortly after the school opened its doors in September, 2008 that the Government agreed to rename it in honour of Anatol Rodgers. We believed that this outstanding educator was due to have this modern state-of-the art edifice named in her honour.

The community-minded and public-spirited Oprah Winfrey often speaks of keeping a Gratitude Journal; an old idea which she made popular on her primetime daily show. The idea speaks to the importance of acknowledging those for whom we owe our gratitude.

Essentially, The Bahamas has created a special Register of Gratitude to celebrate exemplary educators and citizens. In our public education system, this Register is the list of extraordinary and veteran educators in whose memory we have named schools throughout the country.

When we read the names of the men and women which adorn our schools, and recall their life-stories, let it not only be an occasion for happy memory. These citizens of note, laboured too long, dreamed too broadly, and hoped to deeply for us to fail in rededicating ourselves to their rich legacy and living memory.

Today, we share a mutual privilege. We are here to honour and memorialize the work of a fine citizen-educator, who committed her life and her considerable talents to teaching, one of life’s noblest vocations. As someone long-married to a teacher, I believe that I can fairly make this claim.

Though passed from this life, Anatol Rodgers lives on in the memory of many Bahamians. How good it is that her family and friends, and former students are here to acknowledge her contributions to national development.

Some, no doubt, remember her legendary non-tolerance for mediocrity. However, many attest to her nurturing side that only wanted the best for her students. She subscribed to the philosophy that education involved training the whole child, including their character; their intellect, and physical abilities. She wanted her students to be creative and make a difference. She was determined to understand each of their needs and their concerns and encouraged other teachers to do likewise.

She made her mark in the field of education through encouraging her students to do their best. She believed in Bahamians’ ability to achieve, and hence she provided the environment where they could so. Many of our finest citizens emerged during her tenure as Principal of the Government High School including two of my colleague Cabinet Ministers, The Honourable T. Desmond Bannister and The Honourable Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace.

Mrs. Anatol Rodgers had an essential insight into the very fabric of the nation. It was this: “Our children and young people belong to us all. When they succeed, the nation prospers. When they fail, it is our shared failure”.

Dr. C.R. Walker and his wife Mabel Walker share a rare distinction. Veteran educators both, they are the only husband and wife team in Bahamian history to have schools named in their honour.

Today, we acknowledge and celebrate another rare distinction. Anatol Rodgers was a Reeves, the daughter of Lucille Robinson Reeves and C.H. Reeves after whom a Junior High School is named – the C.H. Reeves Jr. High School. I believe that this is the first time in our history that a father and daughter share such a distinction.

For her times, Anatol Rodgers was not just a rare example of a Bahamian woman who earned a bachelor’s degree, much less a master’s degree; she did both. She was among a relatively small number of Bahamians to have earned tertiary degrees at that point in our history. She was also among that first cadre of trained teachers. Anatol Rodgers was not just the first Bahamian woman in certain areas of national life; she was among the first cadre of Bahamians, male or female, in various areas of national life.

At heart, I am told, Anatol Rodgers was a lover of English and Latin. This love had a clear object: the mastery of language itself, the higher purpose of which is the pursuit of knowledge.

Students: In Mrs. Rodgers you will find a great example and a faithful guide. In this spirit, I wish to say some words on the great importance of literacy and oracy to the lives of our students and our national life. In terms of literacy, it is essential that you become more competent in the reading, writing and comprehension of the English language. In terms of oracy, it is essential that you become more competent in oral communication with the ability to effectively convey your thoughts and your ideas.

Such competencies are critical as regards to economic development, competitiveness and productivity. But competence in these areas is not solely about making a living. As essential, competence in these areas also enriches other areas of one’s life and our life in common. Literacy offers unimaginable access to humanity’s great thinkers and writers as well as the treasury of world history. And, dear young people, oracy may help you to better understand a new friend in a different culture and country halfway around the world you are communicating with through Skype.

Master English, one of the most important world languages. This will help you to pursue your dreams. It will help you to take advantage of what The Bahamas and the world may offer. Ladies and Gentlemen:

Anatol Rodgers was a woman of stellar character. At the core of her character was the ability to discern the good and the possibilities in the character of her students, including those of whom some others had long thrown up their hands in frustration.

She recognized too the talents of those with especially gifted minds or talents in certain subject areas. She provided many of these individuals with the avenues and the advice necessary to cultivate the life of the mind, and as importantly, the curiosity of the human spirit. This gifted educator knew also that academic or intellectual achievement is not the same as character. Character includes virtues such as fair-play, honesty, hard work, compassion and fortitude, values all exemplified by the personage whose name graces this school. Anatol Rodgers exhibited and insisted on civility and manners as building blocks for ones character as well as the character of the nation. Saying good morning, thank you and excuse me, as well as addressing one’s elders properly is a sign of outward respect and inner character.

Mrs. Rodgers was a model of public service and active citizenship. She attained many firsts in the institutions to which she dedicated her considerable energy. Most notably she became the first female head of the legendary Government School, an institution to which she dedicated much of her life.

Along with her passion for learning and teaching, this educator-citizen was passionate about community service. The hours, the years, the decades she gave in such service, were given generously and enthusiastically to numerous boards, clubs, associations and committees. She served her community and her church, children and young people, the strengthening of the public archives and the public library system. Ladies and Gentlemen:

Prior to the 1992 there was only one high school, S.C. McPherson, and two primary schools, Carmichael and Carlton Francis located south of the Tonique Williams-Darling Highway and Independence Highway.

After 1992, we built the Gerald Cash, Garvin Tynes, Cleveland Eneas and Sadie Curtis Primary Schools in this corridor, and, we built the C.V. Bethel High School.

The Anatol Rodgers High School is the second high school planned during my last term in office. Construction began under our predecessors in office but completion was stalled because of a number of issues. The delay permitted us to adjust the schools plans to better embrace the long term needs of this expanding community.

This school is necessary because of the increased school aged students living in this part of New Providence. Indeed, this influenced the decision that the school would house grades seven through twelve.

The school is well appointed and equipped. It comprises 76,000 square feet with 35 general standard classrooms, 4 specialty classrooms, 3 general science labs, 1 food lab, 1 clothing lab, 3 music labs, a gymnasium with changing and rest rooms, 1 technical workshop, 2 technical drawing classrooms, a library, 2 computer labs, administration offices and teachers lounge with 2 sets of staff restrooms, 2 tuck shops, 4 sets of male/female student restrooms and covered walkways. As well, the school has sporting facilities including: basketball courts, volleyball courts, softball field and track & field facilities.

The school was constructed by Ranmar Precision Development –Penn- under a contract awarded in April, 2007. The original contract was for $8,848,936.17 plus Provisional Sums totaling $810,000 and an Approved Contingency of $884,893.62

Additional funding to provide for additions approved to meet the expanding needs of this school’s catchment area amounted to $5,556,714.75 bringing the final revised contract price to a total sum of $16.2 million

This does not include, I might add, additional sums paid for consultancy, survey services and architectural services.

The school welcomed its first group of 780 students on September 8, 2008. The staff included 6 administrators, 54 teachers, 4 clerical staff, 13 custodial staff and 10 security staff. Today the total student enrolment is 1,260 students with a staff compliment of 8 administrators and 89 teachers.

During its short history, the Anatol Rodgers High School has amassed an enviable record of accomplishments, among them:

that in 2009, a group of fifteen 10th graders sat the BGCSE in Keyboarding, Accounts and Commerce and all successfully passed them with A-C grades; and that Rishan Smith and Angel Cartwright, graduates of Anatol Rodgers High School, are recipients of United World Scholarships.

And, I am told, the Anatol Rodgers Culinary Programme has reaped rewards for its students and garnered high praise for its instructors. On the sports front also, your athletes are enjoying impressive showing at Government Secondary School Sports Association sporting events.

I was pleased to learn that this school is home to the only Pre-Engineering Magnet Programme in the nation. The programme is supported I am advised, by a cadre of professional engineers from both private and public agencies who have taken on the responsibility of preparing the next generation to fill their shoes.

Anatol Rodgers High School is also home to a Pre-Vocational Unit for students who learn differently. The education programme for children with Autism spectrum disorders was previously centred at the Garvin Tynes Primary School and was formally expanded to the junior high level at the opening of this school in 2008.

We expect great things to come out of Anatol Rodgers High School. You have an interesting and progressive curriculum, dedicated teachers and tuition materials and technical components required to help you in achieving your full promise and potential.

Students of the Anatol Rodgers High School have the benefit of my Government’s commitment to providing quality in Education to all Bahamians. I implore each of you to use your stay at this state-of-the-art school to develop yourselves. Take care of the school – it is yours; show pride of ownership by using facilities with care and leave a beautiful legacy to the students who will follow in your footsteps, tomorrow and hereafter.

I am now pleased to honour Mrs. Anatol Rodgers by proclaiming this school which bears her name officially open.

News date : 01/20/2012    Category : Politics

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