The exciting buzz in the atmosphere, the happy faces of the children, and the well-dressed visitors all gave away that something grand was happening at the Eagle Hall Primary School on Tuesday.
And impressive it was with not just one, but two guests of honour.
The eager students welcomed the Commemorative National Trident, and saluted the man who penned the lyrics to the National Anthem, Irving Burgie, with a fitting tribute.
Setting the scene with a powerful rendition of the song he wrote 50 years ago, students, staff and guests expressed their gratitude to the composer/singer regarded as one of the greatest of the Caribbean.
“The National Anthem defines us as a people,” said the proud principal Orlando Jones, as he welcomed Burgie and guests, who included MP and Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and Minister of Foreign Affairs Senator Maxine McClean.
Jones invited Burgie to take a bow for a job well done, as he underscored that the lyrics of the National Anthem were far-reaching and a proud achievement Barbadians would enjoy for years to come.
Sinckler, who said he was happy to be back at his alma mater, equally praised the National Anthem saying: “It speaks not only of our struggle; but it speaks of our survival and the triumph of surviving over struggle.”
Encouraging the students to reflect on the lyrics, Sinckler added they were a powerful reminder “anything is possible for Barbadians”.
Chair of the 50th Anniversary Co-Ordinating Committee, Senator McClean, challenged the students to appreciate the significance of 50 years of Independence and to be inspired by the messages they would receive.
“You have been given a strong reminder that will be here for many centuries to come of what it means to be Barbadian and what we have achieved; how we have done so; and most importantly what is needed to take us forward,” she said.
Businessman James Wilson, who is hosting Burgie, and leading the 246 Initiative aimed at ensuring Barbadians sing the National Anthem, agreed it was a historic achievement for the country.
With the speeches out of the way, it was the students’ turn to play their part, and they graced the stage with the delightful songs of Burgie’s, including Island In The Sun.
As Burgie smiled broadly from his honoured seat, teacher Coralene Cadogan skilfully delivered the song Yellow Bird, and, later on, Sharika Smith thrilled the gathering with precise dance moves as she performed Come Back, Liza.
But it was student Kelon Grant who tantalized the appreciative crowd with the Burgie hit Day-O, as he easily played the steel pan.
The guest of honour could not hide his satisfaction.
“The school should be congratulated for its excellent presentation,” he said, and later showed his appreciation by chatting and hugging the children who were anxious to get close to the celebrity.