By Christopher Tobutt
National Heroes Day isn’t just for adults, but for children too, because they are going to be the heroes of tomorrow. Because there wouldn’t be any school on Monday, Savannah Primary School celebrated all of Cayman’s heroes a few days early, with a big school assembly. Every child got their chance to shine in front of all the others, including lots of proud moms and dads, and that is quite good practice for being a future hero.
Each of the classes had picked a different hero; one of the very special men and women who had helped to shape Cayman, and make it what it is today. What made it very special is that every single child had something to say, do or share, in front of all the others, whether it was a recital or a little drama skit, and even the youngest kids took part. It is not easy, even for adults to speak in front of an audience of a couple of hundred, but it certainly takes a lot of courage if you are only six or seven or eight. All the presentations were led by children, who had been working hard at home practicing.
Presentations were all about our National Heroes including Hon. James Bodden, who did so many things; Mrs. Sybil McLaughlin, MBE, first Speaker of the Legislative Assembly; Dr. Roy McTaggart, Thomas Farrington, Mary Evelyn Wood, and Mrs Sybil Joyce Hylton, M.B.E who was Cayman’s first probation officer and a lifelong advocate of disadvantaged young people.
Telling Mrs Hylton’s story, teacher Ms. Ebanks’ Year Two class began with a skit, where each of the children said the kind of thing that Ms Hylton might have said: “No! No! No! You can’t treat a child like that!” said six year old Naomi, wearing an old-time traditional Cayman-style dress and big straw hat, just like one that Mrs Hylton would have worn. Everyone found out just how Mrs Hylton, like all of our heroes, wasn’t afraid to step right in where she saw something going wrong. For example, children being tried harshly in adult’s courts without proper, separate provision for juveniles, and making proper provision for their welfare.
Another Year Two class offered a presentation on hon William Warren Connolly. It was put into children’s words, so that they could participate properly, understanding everything: “His mum was called Adrienne…William worked very hard at school. However his family did not have enough money for him to go to College afterwards. He worked sailing on a big ship as a Merchant marine for three years during WW2 in America. Afterwards he became the first Caymanian politician. This means he helped to make laws and rules for Cayman.”
Principal at Savannah Primary School, Mr. Delton Pedley said: “This assembly gives our kids the opportunity to understand where we are coming from as a country, and those that have gone before us, our National Heroes for example, who have done a great job in paving the way for us. We’ve tried to organise today so that kids can access that information, in a way that they understand, and hopefully it’ll impact their lives as we unpack the lessons and learn from them.”