Independence – Not just a Day of Celebrations, but a Way of LIfe

Ave maria girls’ school celebrates Saint Lucia’s 35th Independence anniversary – Mrs Barbara DuBoulay, Senior Officer in the department of Training, Promotion and Development, Keynote Speaker, recounts the experience of being the Guest Speaker. 

When a few days before Independence Day I received a call inviting me to be the guest speaker at the Ave Maria Girls’ School my immediate response was, “Oh no not me”, but realising that it’s so important to help inspire National spirit whenever you can, I accepted the invitation and started to prepare a speech on the theme of this year’s anniversary celebrations: In Unity and Dedication for the Good of our Nation.

As I walked into the school yard on Friday morning, it was gratifying to witness the joy, enthusiasm, pride in the warm environment that permeated the students and teachers. I noted some students and teachers wore fashionable outfits using the colours of the National flag, blue, yellow, black and white. Others wore their blue and white uniforms adorned with accessories in the colours of the day. Flags were all in the air creating a picturesque sight as the girls waited with excitement for the commencement of the morning’s proceedings.

The Mistresses of Ceremony got the students’ attention; immediately the girls got quiet and ready for their Independence Ceremony, clearly showing they understood the importance of good social manners.

As we began with welcome remarks and prayers by Father Theophilus Joseph followed by Praise and Worship led by teacher Ms. Anderson, I realised I had to be a forceful speaker because the energy that the youngsters exuded singing national songs and songs of praise demonstrated that they were really aiming for a top notch celebration!

I was announced with a flattering introduction and as I stood up, I felt nervous as hundred of eyes stared at me in anticipation. But I was prepared and inspired by the show of enthusiasm so far, I was ready to deliver my speech on the Independence theme, “Unity and Dedication for the good of our Nation”.

Returning to my teaching and theatre skills, I quickly broke the ice and followed up by constantly engaging the students to respond to what I was saying. It was truly gratifying when they were asked, “What do you understand by the word Unity?” and all the infant school students all shouted brilliantly, “Togetherness!”

I tried to juxtapose the theme with school life, talking about the importance of team work, and positive results of dedication and commitment to one’s self and country. I spoke encouragingly about paying attention to the little things that they can do to show unity in school, in the classroom and community.

I told a bit about the great men and women who made their contributions towards St. Lucia’s Independence and the importance of the ordinary people who we sometimes take for granted was also highlighted.

The students listened attentively, completing sentences as I spoke – very engaged, showing admirable awareness of current events. When asked to name St. Lucians who had made their contributions internationally, there was no hesitation: The work of the late Sir John Compton and the recent accomplishment of Nina’s debut at the Best Chef’s cook out were quite familiar to them!

From spending that morning at the Ave Maria Girls’, I can proudly say that there is evidence of a cadre of positive minds, guided by good teachers, who will definitely make St. Lucia proud in the near future.

The word “LOVE” was reinforced, for without love there can be no unity. I talked about ‘Love’ explaining that we need to love ourselves, and in so doing patriotism. Students were asked to repeat “I love me, I love St. Lucia!” – every one chanted and waved their flags proudly.

As the morning progressed with entertaining performances, I felt happy to have been a part of it all. It was a morning well spent, and the planning committee must be commended for an Independence Ceremony that was well thought out and executed. Kudos to the Ave Maria Girls’ School, Principals, Teachers and very attentive Students!!!  I was honoured for the opportunity to touch young lives and happy that I accepted the invitation

Author: Barbara DuBoulay, Senior Officer, Training Promotion and Development


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