This year's graduation at the Albania Christian Academy Pre-school was a special one, as the institution is celebrating its 25th anniversary of serving the public by providing Christian-minded early education.
The pre-school first opened its doors and enrolled its first students in 1994. In his 25th anniversary address, founder and director Dr Albert S Ferguson reminisced on about the school's successes and spoke of today's result: a campus worth well over a half-million dollars and the joy of having produced thousands of well-adjusted students because of their solid and professional early educational foundation.
Many of these Albania graduates and former students, he said have maintained honour roll status in their primary level education, in high school, at the College of the Bahamas/University of the Bahamas, and at universities abroad.
One (former) student, who was a baby in the nursery during our initial year of operations, Cyd Ferguson, a 25-year-old attorney, attended the graduation ceremony and was recognised.
During the ceremony, held Sunday, June 30, the 'Most Outstanding Student' in the Class of 2019 was announced as five-year old Alyssa Civil. Alyssa, who began Albania Christian Academy in K-2, is the second child in her immediate family to attend the school. On hand congratulate the winner was Dr Joyous Pickstock, an internationally-recognised Bahamian dentist and CEO of Faith Dental Centre. She presented Alyssa with an iPad.
Dr Pickstock then presented a laptop to the Academy to help further strengthen their education programme, and a financial gift to assist in improving the educational resources. Nineteen years ago, the Faith Dental Centre initiated a corporate thrust to include dental education in area pre-schools, convinced that good dental hygiene habits are developed and consolidated in a child's early years. Therefore, Dr Pickstock has been providing free dental care services for Albania students and for all graduating classes at the Academy, while also providing dental education to parents.
Each year, the Albania Christian Academy invites accomplished educators and educational administrators as graduation speakers, and a contingent of about a dozen of these were present at their 25th anniversary celebratory ceremony. Former Member of Parliament for the area (formerly called St. Cecelia), Dr Cynthia 'Mother' Pratt, was also present and participated.
"The society into which today's pre-schoolers enter is vastly different from that of 25 years ago," Dr Ferguson told his audience of nearly 300 individuals. "Social and cultural values, as well as the whole climate of today's Bahamian society, have drastically changed and continue to evolve, and so today's pre-schoolers have a mindset that differs as drastically from 25 years ago as day is from night. Many must process and respond to home environments which are rather complicated and stress-laden."
Yet, Dr Ferguson added, "every child who survives...needs the services of professional and dedicated Christian early educators, who have integrity, and, most of all, needs quality Christian early education."
A former tertiary-level educator in the Business Studies division at the College of the Bahamas and a former senior-level manager at BEC for two decades, Dr Ferguson continues to serve in the religious arena and in the society at large, having been ordained as a minister of religion (by the Church of God of Prophecy) in April of 1978.