As The Bahamas prepares to celebrate 50 years as a sovereign nation on July 10, 2023, Aquinas College sought to sensitize its students on the subject and celebrate who Bahamians are as a people through music, dance, food and the things that are uniquely them with its annual Flag Day/Proud to be Bahamian Day.
Flag Day is an annual tradition throughout Catholic schools in October, but this year’s event was unique. Each homeroom was assigned a Bahamian island and challenged to learn about the history, culture and natural environment of the island, and depict it through class decoration and displays.
Students dancing to rake ‘n’ scrape music could be seen through the windows of the classroom that depicted Cat Island.
A life-sized depiction of Dean’s Blue Hole could be seen in the classroom representing Long Island.
A crab pen with a student proudly atop was the key feature in the homeroom depicting Andros.
“The creativity from room to room was endless,” said Shona Knowles, Aquinas College principal. “Scholars also shared important facts about their chosen island. This competition proved to be an educational experience for all. The enthusiasm of the scholars proves that learning can indeed be fun.”
Aquinas College’s Flag Day focused on incorporating activities which would prepare the students to be able to better understand the significance of the 50th anniversary of The Bahamas and to be able to more meaningfully celebrate the anniversary of independence in 2023.
Lester Arnette, an 11th-grade student, said he found the day educational and entertaining.
“The presentations made by the students were informative and refreshing. The speech made by our guest speaker [Sharmaine Sinclaire, acting deputy director, Ministry of Education], personally, was thought-provoking, inspiring and motivational,” said Lester.
“Although I may still be young, I was extremely motivated by our guest speaker to use my standing knowledge to make any contribution I can – no matter how small – to our Bahamian society.”
Sinclaire challenged the students to make a meaningful, positive, innovative impact on the nation that will reverberate for years to come.
“On the move to celebrating 50 years of independence, I want to inspire, encourage and, yes, even challenge you to make meaningful, positive, innovative impacts in this nation that will reverberate for years to come,” said Sinclaire. “Just as our founding fathers recognized that they would need wisdom that went beyond their human understanding in order to achieve the vision of a Bahamas, founded on spiritual values, I admonish you to take the ever-present, all-encompassing hand of Almighty God and allow Him to invigorate, rejuvenate and energize for the journey ahead.”
She said despite the fact that the country has faced obstacles – natural disasters, pandemics, poverty, crime, social injustices – that she was encouraged by the fact that, as a people, Bahamians have proven themselves to be resilient.
“Despite these setbacks, and many other hurdles faced over the years that have sometimes caused us to stumble, and at times even caused us to lose our rhythm for a while, we have managed to regain our stride, re-establish our rhythm and continue marching toward our goals.
Kaiden Moss-Moultrie, also an 11th-grade student, was proud to see her entire school community embrace the theme.
“When you drove through our gates on that day, the first thing you would have noticed was that all Aces were dressed in their Bahamian colors – black, gold and aquamarine. Not one student was found in school uniform. We not only have Aces pride – we have Bahamian pride as well,” said Kaiden.
The teen was also impressed by what Sinclaire had to say.
“She spoke to us about having national pride, a topic that is so important, especially leading up to 50 years of independence in The Bahamas. One thing that Ms. Sinclaire said that stood out to me is that I need to be more knowledgeable about our national heroes and their contributions to our country,” said Kaiden.
While all that was well and good, she most wanted to know who won the classroom decorating competition and earned the pizza party prize. A seventh-grade class that focused on Eleuthera earned the win. They depicted everything ‘70s in their display which centered around the color yellow and the pineapple. They also highlighted information on Glass Window Bridge, Preacher’s Cave, Pineapple Festival and Pink Sand Beach. They shared the pineapple tart dessert, displayed pineapple plants, and the fruit itself. The students noted that through their research, they learned that Eleuthera was almost the capital of The Bahamas.
“A major activity for the day was the judging of the homerooms. Each homeroom was assigned an island and was creatively decorated to depict that island. Creativity was at its finest here as teachers and students went all out with hopes of winning the promised pizza party. My homeroom was assigned Rum Cay and we were delighted to have won second place in our division.”
The Aquinas College Flag Day/Proud to be Bahamian Day featured an assembly during which students took the lead performing Bahamian songs, cultural dances and reciting original poems about The Bahamas. Following the assembly, students and guests made their way to the Alumni Square for the raising of the flag, which was carried out by the Aquinas College Defence Force Rangers and the singing of the national anthem. A day of Bahamian cultural immersion followed, connecting all the sights, smells and sounds of The Bahamas. The day included a Bahamian food and craft expo, a marine resources/indigenous plants exhibition by Bahamas National Trust, an arts and craft exhibition and a Junkanoo rushout.
“Aces pride and Bahamian pride go hand in hand,” said Kaiden. “The commonality of the aquamarine in both our school uniform and our Bahamian flag is just one example of this.”
She said the school’s Flag Day festivities were done with excellence because at Aquinas College, excellence is a habit.
Lester agreed, noting that the festivities – dancing, music and food – were nice.
“It was a great showing of our Aquinas College school spirit,” said Lester.