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Clifton Hunter High School Students Lead the Official Opening

Published 11th April 2013, 10:39am

An Investment Today For Our Future

April 11th, 2013 will forever be remembered as the day Clifton Hunter High School (CHHS) was officially opened in Frank Sound. The opening was a true celebration of the 12 year process undertaken to transform the new Clifton Hunter High School from vision to reality; a state of the art facility with modern architecture that colourfully sculpts an inspiring landscape and crafts a fresh educational experience for high school students of the Cayman Islands.

The harmony and dedication of so many in our community and government working together was feted with over 300 guests and 150 students attending the opening ceremonies. Students, educators, parents, contractors, community members and government officials all gathered at CHHS to acknowledge and celebrate the official opening of the school in Frank Sound.

Clifton Adalbert Hunter, MBE, JP (1909 - 1972)

  • • Born in Bodden Town on 13th August 1909
  • • Educated at the elementary school in Bodden Town.
  • • Attended the Mico Training School, Jamaica (1927-1930) where he qualified as a teacher.
  • • Taught in various districts but was a popular teacher in Bodden Town when the school was located in the Town Hall.
  • • In 1947 he was appointed as the first Education Officer in the Cayman Islands following post-graduate studies in the UK
  • • He headed the Education Department until his retirement in 1964.
  • • Introduced an Annual Sports Day for schools.
  • • Elected MLA for Bodden Town in 1968 & remained this until his death.
  • • Served on the Education Council & was Chairman of the Board of Governors for the Cayman Prep School until his death.
  • • He was Deputy President of the Legislative Assembly.
  • • Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Cayman Islands Branch of The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
  • • Head of the law firm Hunter & Hunter.
  • • For many years he was an Elder, Treasurer, Choirmaster & Sunday School Superintendant of The Webster Memorial Church, Bodden Town.
  • • Past President of the Chamber of Commerce.
  • • Founding Member & Past President of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman

The Official Opening Ceremony

Students Bruce Gordon, Head Boy and Loshana Lopez-Francis, Head Girl shared Master and Mistress of ceremonies duties which included an insightful tribute to the school’s well deserved name-sake Clifton A. Hunter, MBE, JP. Mr. Roy Bodden, President of UCCI and past student of Mr. Hunter spoke on behalf of the family and left no doubt as to why Mr. Hunter deserved the honour of having this school named for him. Mr. Bodden told the audience of how Mr. Hunter was a highly respected teacher who sought equality for his students so that they would have the best opportunities possible. Mr. Hunter was recognized for his abilities as an educator by the government and was appointed the island’s first Education Officer in 1947. Through this role he set about bringing innovation to the educational system, raised standards to allow the system to produce more students able to be trained as teachers, and modernized the education system by advising government to phase out the antiquated All Age Schools, then held in the district Town Halls, and to develop a two tiered (primary and secondary) school system. Thanks to Mr. Hunter the first new primary school, The George Town Junior School and the first government high school, the Secondary Modern School, were built.

“Mr. Hunter was a highly respected teacher who sought equality”

The ceremony also included remarks from Principal Ms. Pauline Beckford, Chief Officer in the Ministry of Education Mrs. Mary Rodrigues, JP, The Premier, Hon. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, JP, Chief Education Officer Mrs. Shirley Wahler, Cert. Hon., CHHS PTA President Mrs. Cindy Scotland and Deputy Premier and Minister for Education Hon. Rolston Anglin, JP. During her remarks Mrs. Rodrigues honoured the three ministers responsible for the construction of CHHS. While presenting them with official CHHS jackets, Mrs. Rodrigues thanked Mr. Roy Bodden, JP, who arranged the purchasing of the land, the naming of the school and held the initial groundbreaking, Mr. Alden McLaughlin, MBE, JP, who rededicated the site and commenced construction under a new design, and Hon. Rolston Anglin, JP for continuing the project despite difficult circumstances and ensuring its completion.

Minister for Education Hon. Rolston Anglin, thanked all involved in making this school a reality, from the contractors, subcontractors, Ministry and Department of Education Services staff to the principal, teachers, school staff, parents and students. He said, “I am truly honoured to have been a part of the process of making this school a reality and a success. The involvement of local contractors was very important to me, so I am proud that we were able to ensure the employment of over 150 local companies on the CHHS project. I thank everyone involved for their hard work and commitment to this project which will be enjoyed by generations to come.”

Students Lead Parents and Visitors On A Tour Of CHHS

After the official ceremony, guests enjoyed student-led tours as CHHS was proudly and openly displayed for everyone to discover, and to share the pride that is felt by the students who have the good fortune to attend the school every day.

With her Mistress of Ceremonies duties complete, Loshana, a gentle, confident, young lady beamed with pride to show off the performing arts studio, pool and science lab. “CHHS was worth the wait. I am so grateful to come to school here every day and to have the opportunity to explore so many subjects and activities that I wouldn’t have had if it wasn’t for this new school. My favourite subject is science. The class and lab at CHHS are state of the art, which has really inspired me to pursue my dream of becoming a doctor.”

Bruce had a ready smile at every turn of guiding his guests. A confident and passionate student leader, he easily conversed with students, parents and visitors along the way, “I love the futuristic design of the school, it inspires creativity and socializing in open, bright and colourful spaces, quite different than what we were used to. The students are very respectful of the new campus and take great pride being CHHS students. The arts and technology area is my favourite as I want to pursue a career in graphic design. The access to current technology and design programmes is amazing and really prepares us for real world experiences in these fields of study."

The open-plan and openscheduling concept was new for the students and educators, creating some interesting challenges, but after some key design changes and with the commitment and ingenuity of the principal and teachers everyone is adapting well. In fact staff says it has created a heightened level of consciousness of sharing space, cooperation, and the mutual respect which is required to work in an open space environment. The principal at CHHS, Ms. Pauline Beckford, is a dynamic leader and it’s clear the students not only respect and admire her, they enthusiastically follow her zealous lead: “The education, opportunities and the experience students have at CHHS goes beyond the bricks and mortar and advanced technology contained within the buildings; CHHS cultivates an environment of creativity, collaboration and cooperation ensuring students have the necessary tools and resources to equip them for the future and prepare them for a life beyond these walls.” It quickly became apparent from all the students and educators encountered on the tour, that the culture of the school is clearly one of passion and pride.

Open and spacious is the concept not only in the classroom, but also throughout the extensive property. There are no short-cuts at CHHS, only well-defined paths supported with strong foundations and pillared protection while students weave their way from learning centre building (academy) to activity or resource centre building. There is respect for our heritage of seafaring as well, as each learning centre building heralds the name of a historically significant ship which sailed from the Cayman Islands port; The Lady Slater, Cimboco, and Gold Field. These ships were chosen through recommendations of the Cayman Islands Seafarers Association, as they were three of the most grand and well built ships by our forefathers.

Each building proudly displays its identity above its entrance. At the Art Design & Technology building we discovered students actively working on large murals that when combined, create one giant piece of collaborative artwork. Art teacher Chris Mann leads the art programme at CHHS, and he spoke passionately regarding the importance art has in human development. “Art uses different parts of the brain; it develops the imagination, is a form of expression, and provides creativity with approaches to problem solving. These tools will contribute to student development in their formative years, but more importantly, they will have a lasting impact on the perception of themselves and the world around them for years to come.” This building also houses the wood working shop, the graphic design studio and the campus food preparation kitchen.

"The education, opportunities and the experience students have at CHHS goes beyond the bricks and mortar"

At the Performing Arts building the drama class performed in the acoustically ideal auditorium, an ensemble of musical artists rehearsed in the music room, and dancers and gymnasts mused in the mirrored dance centre. Here we met Year 10 and performing arts student Jennell Johnson and her proud parents, Jennifer Henry-Smith and Dennis Smith. They spoke of how engaged their daughter is at CHHS and how engaged they are as parents with their daughter’s education. “Our interest in our daughter’s education is always met with support by the CHHS PTA, teachers, principal and administrators. They practice and support open communication which helps us help our daughter,” said Mr. Smith. “I wish there was a school like this when I was my daughter’s age,” Mrs. Henry Smith declared, “and it’s not just because it’s nice and new, or the diversity of the programs offered, it’s the support and engagement of students, teachers and parents with the education process to ensure we are all participants to help our children be the best that they can be.”

Over at the Sports Centre, equipped with a box office, weight room, multiple change rooms and a 25 meter outdoor swimming pool; limber, athletic and incredibly bouncy bodies tumbled and vaulted in the vast gymnasium. The energy and excitement in this building exuded from every person that entered. This same energy will be extended to the public when the facilities at CHHS are made available for community use. The Ministry and Department of Education Services are working on the logistics to allow for largescale public use after school hours.

CHHS Praise and Pride

There were audible expressions of praise and pride by all in attendance. The new CHHS has delivered on its promise of creating an exciting, technologically advanced environment for student learning and exploring academics, athletics, arts, trades and sciences. CHHS stands on a solid foundation of commitment today and for future generations to discover their potential and return that investment to the Cayman Islands as we progress through the 21st century.

Clifton Hunter High School Official Opening Printable version