St. Thomas Primary celebrates 40th anniversary; Head Teacher reflects

Principal of the St. Thomas’ Primary School Ms. Norlene as the learning institution celebrates its 40th anniversary

NIA-CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (January 13, 2011) — Principals who served the St. Thomas Primary School (STPS) over the past 40 years were described as outstanding stalwarts who contributed many years of exemplary service to the institution and helped it withstand the test of time. That sentiment was echoed by serving Principal Ms. Norlene Smithen, while she delivered remarks at a Thanksgiving Service on Monday to mark the school’s 40th anniversary. The event was held at the nearby St. Thomas Anglican Church.

“To the various principals that manned this magnificent ship on its educational journey throughout the 40 years, we say thank you for a job well done. Principals like Mrs. Violet Nicholls, Mr. Oban Lawrence, Mr. Melford Ward, Ms. Rovita Butler, the late Mr. Authnell Swanston and Ms. Earlene Maynard, would have blazed the trail in order to ensure that the hundreds of students entrusted in their care succeeded. Like the root of a strong oak tree, they were a tower of strength and encouragement to the students and teachers,” she said.

The St. Thomas’ Primary School in 2010, 40 years on

According to Ms. Smithen, the people of St. Thomas’ Parish were thrilled when their dreams were finally realised on January 11th, 1971 and the doors of the newly built St. Thomas’ Primary School were opened to accommodate 408 anxious, energetic and enthusiastic students (195 boys and 213 girls).

She noted that the Canadian Government in partnership with the Nevis Island Administration then must be recognised for their vision since the old Lowland School could no longer accommodate the large number of students who attended school on a regular basis.

“Thus, it was imperative that a new school was built to alleviate the overcrowding problem. Today, 40 years later, we say thank you once again for the generosity of the Canadian Government,” she said.

Ms. Smithen herself a product of STPS, recalled vividly her early years at the school. Young, teary eyed and scared she entered the school in the 70’s and remembered receiving half a book and half a pencil from Mrs. Nicholls; Mr. Lawrence’s Mathematics classes in the absence of her teacher; Ms. Butler’s love for singing and taught the choir to sing including the gospel song “Whispering Hope”. She also reflected on Mr. Ward who was quiet yet strict and Mr. Swanston who was famous for his Mathematics trophy tests.

Former Principal Ms. Earlene Maynard cuts ribbon to an extension of the St. Thomas’ Primary School in January 2007 with Premier of Nevis, Minister of Education and Area Representative Hon Joseph Parry. Looking on is Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Mr. Joseph Wilshire

The Principal also spoke fondly of her predecessor Ms. Maynard who was filled with energy and left many wondering about her source of inspiration.

“Miss Earlene Maynard would always be remembered for her hard work. She girded her students and teachers with praise and encouraged them to do their very best and to dream big in order to become successful,” she said.

The School’s 40th anniversary activities will be celebrated throughout January. They include a Cleanup Day/T-shirt Day/Tag Day on January 14th; Bank of Nevis sponsored Quiz on the 18th; Visit to nine elderly persons on the community on the 19th; Star Search/Raffle on the 21st; Lunch and Fun Day on the 28th; Awards Dinner at Occasions Conference Centre on the 29th and a Retreat on the 31st.

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