By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
ST BEDE’S Catholic Primary School was officially renamed in honour of the “humble but proud” former principal Sister Annie Thompson at a ceremony yesterday at the Sutton Street campus.
The government has secured the school, left vacant by the relocation of the Catholic school programme from the Kemp Road area to other locations, as part of its education mandate.
St Bede’s was founded and operated for many years by the Catholic Diocese with nuns from St Martin’s Convent, Nassau Street, where Sister Thompson is prioress.
An initial government investment of $3m aided the transformation of the site into the country’s most modern pre-school facility. Prospective parents were informed in June 2013 about the new pre-school and 33 pupils were selected to attend. An orientation for parents was held at the St Bede’s Church Hall.
Prime Minister Perry Christie said yesterday that his administration recognised the need for a “focused and practical approach” towards education shortly after entering office.
Mr Christie said that his government wanted to fill in the gaps that existed in the local education system to ensure that no child was overlooked or left behind.
“The moral imperative is that there are children who, for whatever reasons, have not been able to cope at a given time in their life and final judgment is exercised and it takes them away from being able to be the best they can,” he said.
“Sister Annie Thompson is a testament to the level of success an individual can have in their professional and personal lives when their aptitude is tapped into and used to catapult them through life. It is our job to tap in to those natural gifts that our children possess and to enhance their gifts in order to maximise their potential and allow them the sweet experience of success.”
Sister Thompson called the honour an “endorsement of great work”. She said the renaming of the school ensured that her legacy, and those that assisted her with her goals, would live on well after they do.
“This shows that the work that I have done through the commands of Jesus was work well done,” she said. “The kids that pass through institutions like this are our future, so the work done in places like this lend to what our country becomes.”
Sister Thompson admitted that the renaming of the school, where she served as principal from 1970 to 1974, was “sad”. She explained that she still remembers the days that she would work “tirelessly throughout the night” ensuring that the name St Bede’s reflected success.
“Education is about building a person; that is the mentality I entered this community with. I knew every day that at some point I would affect a life. For that reason I gave it my all,” she added.
Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald said the “fun-loving, guitar-playing, treat-making, sport-loving nun” dedicated herself to the betterment of the children that passed through her hands. He added that her contribution to education has affected generations of Bahamians.
“Although humble and soft-spoken, she embodies the spirit of a child; gentle and kind,” said Mr Fitzgerald. “It is quite fitting that this school now bears her name”.
Ministry of Education officials indicated that the state-of-the-art facility would provide opportunities that will, over time, support and promote early childhood education and development in a safe and caring environment.
This dedication service marked the fifth renaming ceremony of a school since the Progressive Liberal Party took office in 2012.
In February, the Spanish Wells All-Age School was renamed the Samuel Guy Pinder All-Age School. Shortly afterwards, the Oakes Field Primary School was renamed in honour of career educator and former principal, Eva Hilton.