It brought tears to my eyes, last Saturday, September 15, 2018, when I attended an open-day celebration of the completion of the Robinson O’Neal Primary School in North Sound, Virgin Gorda.
It stirred emotions within me for different reasons. It brought back memories of my late father, Honourable Hubert Robinson O’Neal who built that school while he was representative of Virgin Gorda in 1970.
He ultimately lost his life in 1971 carrying furniture to the same newly constructed school in North Sound. I saw the almost total destruction of the school my father built after the passage of the storms of 2017 and wondered if his legacy was destroyed in the process, as well.
It brought tears of joy to my eyes to tour the now newly rebuilt and refurbished Robinson O’Neal Memorial School. I saw a fabulous, futuristic, beautifully constructed, expanded structure that the people of Virgin Gorda and especially, the people of North Sound are so proud of.
The school is almost twice the size it was with a new canopy over the open courtyard in the centre of the school, a feature that I had advocated for since I was elected in 2015. All the classrooms were completely furnished with sturdy new desks and chairs with comfortable amenities for the children.
All the rooms including the staff rooms, kitchen, library and classrooms are air-conditioned. It brought tears of joy to witness the absolute delight of the principal, Norma Creque and her staff of dedicated teachers to now have the ultimate teaching environment possible in this modern era.
It was touching to witness the many residents of Virgin Gorda who showed up at this open house event who was in awe, just as I was, of such a magnificent accomplishment for the community and our Territory’s education system.
I give thanks to Mr David Johnson, the Oil Nut Bay Community and the North Sound Foundation who so generously donated over $ One million dollars to this redevelopment of the Robinson O’Neal Memorial School.
He and his staff conceptualized, engineered and funded the whole new development. I also give thanks to the construction team of Creative Builders led by Mr Tyrone Stevens for their efficient, quality work in undertaking this project and completing it in only six
months. I give thanks to the Minister of Education, Hon. Myron Walwyn and the government of the Virgin Islands for facilitating this redevelopment of Robinson O’Neal Primary School.
This school, I might add, is the first redeveloped school post-Irma and it now sets the standard for all schools in our Territory. It proves that public/private partnerships are fruitful, once conducted in an open transparent manner. My father, too, would have been so very proud of his school that has been restored to its magnificence.
Dr the Honourable Hubert O’Neal
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