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Legacy Of All 16 School Patrons To Make Social Studies Book

Minister of Education Hon. Rachel Taylor (right) share lens with patron of the Thelma Lightbourne Primary in School in Providenciales, Thelma LIghbourne at the event.

The Turks and Caicos Writers Society is seeking $60,000 to put together a school’s reference book encapsulating the 16 primary and high school patrons across the Turks and Caicos Islands.

On Saturday, January 7, the Writers Society launched the ‘School patrons Textbook Project’ at the Brayton Hall on Providenciales, which a full house of movers and shakers attended, including Ministers of Government, chief of them Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The Writers Society President, Barbara Ambrister pointed out that while most may have bene familiar with the names of the various school patrons, they are not familiar with their backgrounds, and so, putting a social studies book together detailing their work in the community would add to the civics education of the population.

Premier Hon. Washington Misick and First Lady, Mrs. Delthia Russell-Misick

The patrons are Mary Robinson, of whom the Mary Robinson Primary School in Salt Cay is named; Marjorie Basden, of whom the Marjorie Basden High School in South Caicos is named; Iris Stubbs, of whom the Iris Stubbs Primary School in South Caicos is named; Charles Hubert James, of whom the Charles Hubert James Primary School in North Caicos is named; Eliza Simons, who whom the Eliza Simons Primary in Grand Turk is named; Louise Garland Thomas, in whose honor the Louise Garland Thomas High in Providenciales is named; Enid Capron, in whose honor the Enid Capron Primary School in Providenciales is named; Raymond Gardiner, in whose honor the Raymond Gardiner High School in North Caicos is named; Ona Glinton, in whose honor the Ona Glinton Primary School in Grand Turk is named; Oseta Jolly, in whose honor the Oseta Jolly Primary School in Providenciales is named; Adelaide Oemler,who is the patron of the Adelaide Oemler Primary School in North Caicos; Helena J. Robinson, in whose honor the HJ Robinson High School in Grand Turk is named; Clement Howell, who is the patron of the Clement Howell High School; Doris Robinson, in whose honor the Doris Robinson Primary School in Middle Caicos is named; Ianthe Pratt, in whose honor the Ianthe Pratt Primary School in Providenciales is named; and Thelma Lightbourne, who is the patron of the Thelma Lightbourne Primary School in Providenciales.

Gordon Williams of Provo Electric, is being presented with an appreciation certificate by Claudette Clare, executive member of the Turks and Caicos Writers Society.

“It is a project whereby we will research the history of each school patron. And we will write textbooks, publish them, so that there is a copy in each school for reference purpose, and we want it included in the social studies curriculum, so that there is some evidence of why that school was given that name,” Ambrister said.

“Today, we have schools names, but most of us don’t know why the schools were named that, and so, we want the history of the patrons to come alive. We hear about the Arawaks and their history, but we have not heard about Thelma Lightbourne, Enid Capron Ianthe Pratt…why all of those persons being named, and so we need to start showcasing our history,” she added.

Dr. Barbara Ambrister, President of the Turks and Caicos Writers Society

She pointed however, that to make the project a reality, funds would need to be raised.

“When we look at it, everything takes money, and individuals would prefer that we would just do it for free, but we can’t. There are two aspects of this…we would like to do something for the patrons or their family.

“These people sometimes taught for nothing. And so, to give them a token of our appreciation is what we want to factor into the funding…and it is not going to be much, because it is 16 of them. But as a writers’ society we look at it as a way for us to become more visible in the community and also, to get a small percentage to keep the organization going,” Ambrister explained.

Cynclair Musgrove, Executive Member of the TCI Writers Society

For her part, Minister of Education Hon. Rachel Taylor said her government would be its weight behind the project, lauding the effort of the Writers Society for coming with such gesture.

“This book will give students, teachers and parents information about the patrons of our schools who have made significant contributions to the education system here in the Turks and Caicos Islands,” she said, describing the living patrons, Thelma Lightbourne, Ianthe Pratt and Marjorie Basden as ‘living legends’.

Premier Hon. Washington Misick echoed the sentiments express by his education minister, stating that his government would no doubt support the cause, while in the same breath, calling on society to lend its support.

“Government can’t do everything, and so we have to leverage the goodwill of people who are prepared to volunteer and civil society to help in things, and government will absolutely support it,” the premier said, noting in his time as young man, teachers remained the backbone of society.

“In the small community that I grew up in teachers were everything…in small rural communities they were sort of a go-to leader in the community. In my case, teacher Mr. Raymond Gardiner played a pivotal role in my church, he was the head pastor, he was part of the district administration…the guy just wore a ton of hats.

“So, I a very happy to see him being recognized above everybody else, because he is the one person that I know, and I am sure that people in the other communities could say the same thing about their teachers. So, I think it is a great, great initiative, but I take my hat off to the persons who thought of it and take the effort to promulgate it.

He pointed out that it is important to put such a book together to not lose more of our history.

“There is so much that we have already lost or are missing because we did not spend a lot of time recording, honoring, recognizing some of the people on whose shoulders we stand,” Premier Misick said.

For his part, Deputy Leader of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) Robert Been Jr. also lauded the initiative, saying that the initiative has the full backing of him and his party.

“I fully support it. I fully endorse it. I think such an event was long overdue, and should be something that should be ongoing, and I would encourage the public to show more support by contributing to it, and assist with the $60,000 that they are trying to raise,” Been urged.

He added: “It is a great idea to put those patrons and who they are in a book so that they would now be more than just names but faces would be put to those names, so that my generation and the generations after would get to know who those persons are.

“The book would contribute to their legacy to not only my generation but the ones before me and the ones after me, to know who these people are, and the contributions that they made to the Turks and Caicos,” Been added.

One of the patrons, Thelma Lightbourne, was on hand to give her response to the gesture. She encouraged more support for teachers and the education system, while thanking the Writers Society for embarking on the initiative.