A more formal setting within the campus was the venue of this year’s Commonwealth Day Celebration at Abaco Central High School. Five tents for visiting guests, students, music band and a podium, as well as rows of extra chairs had been arranged in a quadrant in the parking lot.
Commonwealth Day is always celebrated the second Monday of March. This year it fell on March 14.
After the official guests had been brought to their seats by three Head-boys and Deputy Head-boys, the National Anthem was performed by the School Band, led by Mr. Jamal McIntosh and Ms. Pauline Brice.
The flags of nine countries were then formally and individually brought by marching Cadet Rangers to a flag stand facing the guests’ tent. Girls representing each featured country, entered the ceremony grounds one by one and lined in front of the podium, enthusiastically announced by Mrs. Sofia Miller.
The head of the fifty three countries of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II had aired her expected annual message. It was read to the assembly by Vice- Principal, Shirley Krezel.
“…This is an essential ingredient of belonging to the Commonwealth: the willingness to share, to exchange and to act for the common good”.
“Let’s us give it practical effect by supporting those in need and those who feel excluded in all walks of life.”
This year’s theme ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’ was stressed upon by the speakers who addressed the students, such as Dr. Lenora Black and Ms. Fanchon Braynen.
Dr. Black, although speaking only for a few moments, referred to the Queen’s message by saying that the success of communities is tied up to the success of each of us.
“I wish to encourage each one of you,” stated the Districtof Education Superintendent, “as you conduct daily affairs anywhere. Know that your success will be our success, but your failure will also be our failure.”
Administrator Moss, who had lost his voice, said he had just come because he wanted to visit the school again, but had not prepared for a speech.
Musical pieces, poem readings, skits enacting old ways of Bahamian life and dances followed. Ms. Brennen, the Regional Human Resource Manager for the Royal Bank of Canada, emphasized the need for tolerance, respect and equality during her address.
“We should not let cultural differences separate us. We must learn to include every culture”.
She concluded by hoping that the “One Love” of Jamaican music would start on Abaco.
More dances from The Bahamas and Jamaica preceded the end of the ceremony. The school’s brass and drum band then made its appearance. The school’s Junkanoo group rushing through the school grounds was the perfect cultural ending of the celebration.
The nine countries represented were The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, Jamaica, Guyana, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Kenya. There was no exhibition this year, but the culture was included in the food prepared for the guests: roti, spicy curried chicken and fried fish from Guyana, Jerk Chicken from Jamaica and the usual Bahamian treats which included a beautiful array of mouth- watering desserts.