(EMU) – St. Kitts, November 28, 2016: As Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education

Hon Shawn Richards commended graduands at the 50th Anniversary of the Charles E Mills Secondary School, formerly known as the Sandy Point High School, on Thursday 24th November, he revealed that the outstanding achievement came against the backdrop of social inequity which characterized the era.

According to Minister Richards the school’s opening in the 1960s was designed to reshape the national, social and economic landscape of the island through the provision of comprehensive secondary education for all (outside the Basseterre area).

“In 1966, St Kitts was still an island with a plantation society stratified by race and resources,” the minister elaborated. “Such a structure meant that our grandparents who were ; without formal education and holding; were primarily relegated to the lower social classes. Our fore-parents valued education but the system and society that they lived in did not provide them with mechanisms whereby formal secondary education was accessible to many.”

Minister Richards explained that such was the case when comprehensive secondary education was envisaged and subsequently pursued as the means of transforming education so that opportunities and life changes could become available to the descendants of the enslaved Africans.

The Deputy Prime Minister highlighted the foresight of Mr Clarence Fitzroy Bryant in this regard and applauded the efforts of successive Administrations in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis which have remained committed to the advancement of lofty educational ideals.

To reinforce his point Minister Richards singled out several students for academic success during the last CXC examinations. They include Kavida Bowry (11 subjects/11 distinctions); Sabrina
Sutton (13subjects/4distinctions); Baticia Taylor (11 subjects/7 distinctions); Zinzel Pemberton (10 subjects/6 distinctions); and Zoen Browne (12 subjects/3 distinctions).

Also saluted at the ceremony w ere the former principals Reverend Joseph Manchester; Dr JosephHalliday; Mrs Morlene Buchanan Whitaker; Mr James Williams; Mr Thomas Williams; Mr Stanley Edwards; Mr Bertram Haynes; Mrs Dulcie Richardson; Mr William V Hodge; Ms Cordette Henry; Ms Lorozine Williams; Mrs Carla Mills Diamond and present principal Mr Boris Connor.

The minister concluded his congratulatory remarks by stating, “Education was, is and must always be highly prized as the means of upward social, political and economic mobility for all of us.”

Permanent Secretary of Education Mr Vincent Hodge who was the featured speaker at the event joined the Minister of Education in highlighting the relevance of the 50 th Anniversary celebration
in the process of nation building.

Even as Mr. Hodge commended graduates, he, in his usual challenging and motivational style, urged attendees to implement “vigorous and positive action” as they confront the critical issues such as materialism and negative peer pressure which are threatening the good moral fabric of society.

“Let us be reminded of the fact that a number of our “constituents” have not completed secondary school with the requisite skills to advance successfully to higher education or the workforce,” he said. “The question I pose to us as administrators, teachers, parents and civic minded individuals is “What are our responsibilities to these young people?”

The permanent secretary used a phrase coined by the Late Martin Luther King, “The Fierce Urgency of Now”, to propel the audience to awareness and action as far as making an effort to save young people from destructive paths.

In his concluding statements, Mr Hodge saluted the Sandy Point Charles E Mills Secondary for its accomplishments. “As an institution we can be proud of our record of nation building; and our contribution to human resource development is worthy of emulation. We have turned out our fair share of nation builders; construction workers, bartenders, hairstylists; farmers, teachers, police officers, nurses, lawyers, doctors, politicians, parliamentarians. It is of great significance that at a time when the institution is celebrating its 50 th Anniversary, the Minister of Education is a distinguished graduate of this institution in the person of Hon Shawn Richards.”

Mr. Hodge was principal of the Sandy Point High School from 1991-2000. The period was referred to during the ceremony as the Hodge Era; a time when concern for students was embraced by strict principles that required all to comply….. or face the consequences.