Principal wants school named historic site on 200th anniversary

ST JOHN’S, Antigua- Principal of the Bethesda Primary School is calling for the school to be recognized as a historic site, as it marks its 200th anniversary.

Esther Dickinson said the school was the first place in the English speaking Caribbean where Negro children were taught.

“The school was the first school for negro slave children in the English speaking Caribbean. It started 1813 and it was housed in the Methodist Church,” Dickinson said.

Dickinson said the school was started by plantation owners Charles Thwaites and his wife Elizabeth.

“It’s a suggestion we want to make to the powers that be, that the site on which the school inception was that we consider it a historical site in Antigua and Barbuda, that it be categorized as such.”

“Tourists are now moving away a bit from sea, sand and sun and so we have to have other things to attract them and I believe that is one of the ways to peak their interest,” Dickinson said.

The school will be having a church service on Sunday at the Bethesda Methodist Church to celebrate the milestone

Dickinson said they also hope to host a festival to celebrate the type of games that used to be played in the country.

“We want to have a picnic and a Sports Day because that school is known for producing great athletes in track and field and cricket and other sports.”.

“Not only cricket and that kind of thing, we want to go back to the old days where we would play marbles, skipping rope, stones and the sort of fun and enjoyment to bring it back and to show the younger generation what it was like back then,” she added.

The Bethesda Primary is now a government- run school with around 40 students – down from over 300 at its peak.