Alice Town, Bimini – In keeping with the government’s objective of honouring educators, another school has been renamed. During a ceremony held in Alice Town on Friday, January 13, the Bimini All-Age school was renamed the “Louise McDonald High School’ as a tribute to Louise Emmaline McDonald, nee Robbins, who dedicated 45 years of her life to education.
Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham said he felt ‘privileged’ to witness this tribute to a ‘devoted daughter of Bimini.’
“How good and wonderful it is that Mrs. McDonald’s family and friends, former colleagues and students, and fellow Biminites are here to acknowledge and celebrate her contributions to both national development and the advancement of this community,” said Mr. Ingraham.
The Prime Minister said that ‘greatness often emerges from small communities. “Neither geographic size nor square mileage will ultimately determine the scope of your success in life,” he said. “Instead success is determined by the boldness of one’s vision, the broadness of one’s imagination, the depth of one’s convictions and the strength of one’s character.”
Echoing similar sentiments was Minister of Education, the Hon. T. Desmond Bannister who said that this was a particularly special moment for him because Mrs. McDonald once taught him when his parents were posted in Bimini as teachers.
“Mrs. McDonald built the critical foundation is so many children of Bimini during her forty-five years in education,” said Mr. Bannister. “She not only taught us the rudiments of writing, arithmetic and reading; she taught us that service to others was an essential part of the human existence. She demonstrated this throughout her life.
He added that although the legacy of Mrs. McDonald is known primarily within the Bimini and Grand Bahama communities, he said that he was ‘delighted’ that this renaming exercise would expose Bahamians nationwide of the existence of this Bahamian ‘Florence Nightingale.”
Mrs. McDonald was born on the island of Bimini on May 15, l917. She received her early education at the Bimini All-Age School. For 13 years, she worked as a Monitor to teach students in the lower classes at the school. Subsequently, she studied at St. John’s University and then later earned an Associate’s degree in Religious Knowledge from the National Seminary College in Baltimore, Maryland.
She retired from the Ministry of Education in l980 but continued in the field of education as the Operator of the Cathedral of Mr. Zion Kindergarten School where she served with distinction until l992. Mrs. McDonald was a community builder and an ardent church worker. The Progressive Young Liberals crowned her ‘Mother of the year’ in Nassau in May l983. Her service to The Bahamas also earned her the British Empire from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. She was married to the late Halman McDonald Sr. and the couple had five children, two stepchildren and three foster children. Sadly, Mrs. McDonald passed on in September l998 at the age of 81.
The first Bimini All-Age School was established in the Settlement of Alice Town, Bimini in l878. The original structure was made of hand-made wooden planks and was constructed by local ship carpenters, led by William (Scott) Saunders. Initially, the school featured only one big classroom with no indoor plumbing. There was only one qualified teacher at the school during the early days who also served as head teacher or headmaster. Monitors who were recruited locally from the student body and from the community assisted the headmaster. In l935, the wooden structured was badly damaged by hurricane and was replaced by a new concrete structure. Since then, the school has undergone several expansions and today is a full-service facility serving the Bimini community.
By Betty Vedrine
Bahamas Information Services