In its 125th year of existence, the Boscobel Primary School in St Peter was today re-christened in honour of one of the most illustrious pupils who walked through its doors.
Today, the school was renamed the Elliott Belgrave Primary School after recently retired Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave, who was a student there between 1936 and 1943.
During this morning’s ceremony, an almost speechless Sir Elliott said, “The way I would describe how I am feeling now is as though I am in ‘goat heaven’, ‘kiddie’s palace’. I am so overwhelmed by the scope of this event,” the former head of state said.
Sir Elliott, who retired as Governor General at the end of June after serving in the position for five years, said he was happy to be back in the community in which he grew up, on the grounds of the very first school he attended, and in the company of many dignitaries, including Acting Governor General Sir Philip Greaves, Members of Cabinet, the Clerk of Parliament and members of the judiciary.
Sir Elliott spoke of his experiences at the school with the then Principal, John Patterson Riley, “who established a set of standards and rules that were non-negotiable, and fully supported by the parents and everyone within the community.
“This school has been a classic example of the transformational power of the neighborhood school which consistently took working class students and put them in places of prestige, and I could not have achieved what I did without the foundation this school gave me,” he said.
He mentioned two other students from the school who had gone on to hold high positions, namely Frank Caddle, who became the principal of a nursing hospital in England, and the current Ombudsman Valton Bend.
In his address, Minister of Education Ronald Jones said the decision to rename the school came about after “I threw out a challenge to the members of this community to honour one of its members, and a letter came in requesting the name change for the school.
“I believe that it is an honour well-deserved,” Jones added.
He commended Sir Elliott for visiting all 73 primary schools on the island, both private and public, during his tenure as Governor General, and for the way in which he interacted with the students on those visits.
The minister also said that within the next two years, Government was planning to restore or replace eight schools, including Elliott Belgrave Primary School and the St. John Primary School. He also revealed that a new secondary school was in the works.
Today, Sir Elliott also had some words of encouragement for the current crop of students.
“Your academic success must come with at least one marketable skill, the future will be challenging but your education here will help you overcome whatever challenges you may face; volunteer your services to this community, communicate effectively with both the written and spoken word, and embrace wholesome cultural activity. You are young, intelligent and highly talented and you will succeed with the help of your parents and teachers,” he said.