Eva Hilton at the ceremony marking the renaming of Oakes Field Primary School in her honour.
By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Oakes Field Primary School was renamed in honour of career educator and former principal Eva Hilton yesterday.
Prime Minister Perry Christie, who gave the keynote address during the renaming ceremony, said the stories of great Bahamians like Mrs Hilton, which displayed true “spirit, zeal and compassion” must be “lifted out of oblivion, cherished and shared”.
Mr Christie added that educators, particularly women educators in Mrs Hilton’s era didn’t just teach, they became prominent figures in the lives of their students. Mr Christie said that his government has set out to “acknowledge and reserve” the hard work of those who have in some way helped “build the nation”.
He added that during her nine years as principal at the school, the 82-year-old was an “exemplary role model”.
“It is most appropriate that Mrs Eva Godet-Hilton’s long and outstanding service as an educator be recognised and celebrated by having the Oakes Field Primary bear her name.
“Mrs Hilton was indeed a career educator who, like many women of her time, made the schools in which she served, an extension of her home. The values and principles she instilled in her biological children were the same ones implanted in the hearts and minds of her pupils.”
Oakes Field Primary was commissioned in 1966 under the leadership of former Governor General Dame Ivy Dumont, also an educator, to allow better access to education for the children of Chippingham, Oakes Field and the Bain and Grants Towns areas.
In 1974, Mrs Hilton became the principal at the school. Prior to this, she served as guidance counsellor at C I Gibson and later at Yellow Elder Primary as vice-principal for several years.
“Children have to feel that you want them to succeed and once you make that clear they will never give up on the goals you put in front of them,” Mrs Hilton said at the ceremony yesterday.
She said the event was an honour, adding: “When I started, I made every day about my students, today they made it about me.
“It’s a wonderful conclusion to a long career and I am truly blessed to see this day.”
Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald added that Mrs Hilton “dedicated her life to education”.
“With citizens of excellence, our country can be transformed, one student at a time,” he said. “With a solid foundation in education delivered by dedicated, first-class teachers, our students will have better opportunities to become our country’s future leaders.”
Yesterday’s exercise marked the third name change under this current administration. Earlier this month, the Carmichael Primary School was renamed after veteran educator Sybil Louise Strachan who served as principal of the school for 17 years.
In early February, the Spanish Wells All-Age School was renamed the Samuel Guy Pinder All-Age School.
According to Mr Fitzgerald, the government will rename two more schools in the coming weeks: Our Lady’s and St Bede’s Catholic Primary Schools, both of which are in New Providence.