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Doris Johnson Senior High School Officially Opened
By Betty Vedrine, BIS
May 5, 2011 - 8:30:56 PM

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A plaque is revealed during the official opening of the Doris Johnson Senior High School on Thursday, May 5. Pictured left to right: Ms. Dressler Sherman, District Superintendent, Northeastern District; Minister of Education, the Hon. Desmond Bannister; Mrs. Dolores Ingraham, wife of the Prime Minister; Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham; Ms. Barbara Brooks, sister of the late Dame Dr. Doris Johnson; Mrs. Janet Bostwick, Deputy to Governor General; Alvin Smith, Member of Parliament, North Eleuthera and Speaker of the House and Mrs. Anita Bernard, Secretary to the Cabinet. (BIS Photo/Letisha Henderson).

Nassau, Bahamas - Nine years after its construction, Doris Johnson Senior High School was officially opened. The ceremony was held on the school campus on Thursday, May 5.  Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham said he was ‘elated’ to be present for the event and paid tribute to its patron, the late Dame Dr. Doris Johnson.

“This school bears an impressive name; that of an accomplished Bahamian woman,” said Mr. Ingraham. “Dame Doris was first and foremost an educator. A doctor of education, she used her skills and talents to benefit many Bahamian children including those with learning disabilities.”

Dame Johnson, he said, also became an ‘ardent’ political force by lending her voice to the Suffragette movement in the middle of the last century and helped to advance women’s rights. Her efforts were rewarded with the enfranchisement of women in The Bahamas in l962.

“She was the first woman appointed to the Bahamas senate, the first female president of the senate and the first woman named to the Cabinet as a minister.” Dame Johnson also authored the book, ‘The Quiet Revolution,’ which chronicles the events leading up to majority rule in The Bahamas.

Minister of Education, the Hon. Desmond Bannister congratulated the students and faculty for their hard work.

“This milestone could not have been realised without the steadfast dedication of committed partners,” said Mr. Bannister. “We are grateful to all of you as once again, this support has enabled the Ministry of Education to deliver on its promise of providing enhanced teaching and learning experiences for our students in safe, healthy and productive environments.

The Doris Johnson Senior High School opened its doors in September 2002 with a student population of 634, 52 teachers and five administrators headed by Geoffrey McPhee as principal. Today, approximately 1,000 students are enrolled at the school. The school has a faculty of 73 teachers and an administrative team of seven persons, in addition to clerical and other support staff. The current principal is Mrs. Linda M. Major.

Students of the school have also been recognised for many achievements including being recipients of distinctions in BGCSE examinations, recipients of the College of The Bahamas Prestigious President Scholarship Awards and being members of Carifta teams.

Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham tours a classroom at the Doris Johnson Senior High School during the official opening ceremony of the school held on Thursday, May 5. (BIS Photo/Letisha Henderson).

Remarks by

Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham

Prime Minister

At the Official Opening of the

Doris Johnson  Senior High School

Prince Charles Drive

Thursday 5 May, 2011


Hon. Janet Bostwick, Deputy to the Governor

Colleague Ministers;

Rt. Hon Perry Christie –Leader of the Official Opposition

Mr. Speaker and Members of Parliament

Reverend Patrick Paul – President of The Bahamas Christian Council

Members of the Clergy

Mrs. Elma Garraway Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education & Other Permanent Secretaries

Mr. Lionel Sands - Director of Education

Family Members of the late Dame Doris Johnson

Senior Education Officials

Mrs. Linda Major –Principal, Doris Johnson Sr. High School

Members of the School Board &

the Parents Teachers Associations

Teachers, Support Staff, Parents, Students

Ladies and Gentlemen:  

      It is with great pleasure that I join you today for the Official Opening Ceremony for the Doris Johnson Senior High School.  The construction of this school was in its final stages when I was last in office in May, 2002. Four months later at the beginning of the school year, the state-of-the-art Doris Johnson Senior High opened its doors to its first students. 

      What a happy coincidence that you are holding this ceremony after my return to office! Thank you very much!

      A day such as this has two main purposes.  First, it is an opportunity to reflect on the role of education in our national development and Bahamian history.  It is also an occasion to celebrate the contributions to that development and history, by outstanding Bahamians.

      As we honour her in this way I have no doubt Dame Dr. Doris Johnson is smiling on us today.  Were she here with us this morning she would be bursting with pride to see how far we have come, and remind us from whence we came.  

      A champion of Majority Rule and the equality of women, Dame Doris would be filled with joy that two of the dreams for which she long fought are today basic rights.  They are (1) the right of women to vote and (2) the universal right of every Bahamian child to education. 

      As a Bahamian educator who attained the still rare achievement of a doctoral degree, Dame Doris would also have much to say about the importance of education in transforming individual lives as well as the corporate life of the nation.  

      She would be especially proud of the strides in educational achievement by Bahamian women.  But she would be concerned that our boys and young men are falling behind in terms of earning a high school diploma, and are opting out of pursuing higher learning in college or university.  

      Born in 1921, Doris L. Johnson was a scholar and educator at heart.  A life-long learner, she pursued a Master’s Degree in the late 1950s.  She completed the degree in just one year and went on to attain a doctoral degree in education. After some years as a teacher she eventually became a principal.  

      These achievements should speak to all of the students here today about the possibility of achieving one’s aspirations no matter the real or perceived barriers.

      Upon returning to The Bahamas, Dame Doris continued to work in education but she also became more politically active, lending her voice to the growing Women’s Suffrage Movement.  The irony was not lost on her that after returning home holding the highest academic degree in her field - doctor of education - she did not have the right to vote. 

      She determined to do something about that glaring injustice and she joined with other women who had already started the struggle for the right of Bahamian women to vote.  Dame Doris was chosen as the spokesperson for these women who were known as “suffragettes”. 

      A request by the Suffragettes for Dame Doris to address the House of Assembly on the right of women to have an equal say in their country, through the vote, was denied.  But her articulate demands for equality could not be silenced or ignored.  

      Eventually, Members of the House of Assembly agreed to meet in a magistrate’s court to hear Dame Doris press the demands for the empowerment of women.  Later, she joined the delegation of Bahamian suffragettes who travelled to London to put their case to the British Government, which at that time, was responsible for the governance of The Bahamas.

        Eventually, the Suffragettes were successful; the House of Assembly amended the General Assembly Elections Act, 1959 permitting Bahamian women to vote beginning 39 years ago in 1962.

      Her participation in the struggle for equality was then extended to the fight for Majority Rule, which finally came in 1967.   Following Majority Rule, Dame Doris was appointed to the Senate serving as its first female President.  She was appointed the first female Cabinet Minister in The Bahamas in 1968.  She served as Minister without Portfolio for one year and then as Minister of Transport between 1969 and 1972.  

      It would take another 20 years before a woman was elected to the House of Assembly in 1982 in the person of Janet Bostwick. 
Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham reveals the school plaque during the official opening of the Doris Johnson Senior High School opening on Thursday, May 5. Picture: Mr. Ingraham is pictured with the family of Dame Dr. Doris Johnson. From left to right: Ms. Paula Clarke, niece; Ms. Barbara Brooks, sister and Lynden Sands, nephew. (BIS Photo/Letisha Henderson)

      Dame Doris remained the only female to have served in a Cabinet of The Bahamas for 20 years; that is, until August, 1992 when I had the honour of naming three women to my first Cabinet, the Hon. Janet Bostwick among them.  Of course most of you will know that Mrs. Bostwick went on to lead many important Ministries in our Government serving as Attorney General and as Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs as well as Minister of Social Services and Community Affairs.  Today, happily, she has joined us in her capacity as Deputy to the Governor-General.  

      Following in a path set by women like Dame Doris, other capable and talented women reached the pinnacle of their chosen careers in both the public and private sectors.

      Especially since 1992 capable and talented women have served as Members of the House of Assembly and of the Senate, Governor-General, Speaker of the House, President of the Senate, Chief Justice, and President of the Court of Appeal.  And women have carried the responsibility of virtually every senior post in the Civil Service: Secretary to the Cabinet, Financial Secretary, Permanent Secretary, Director of Public Works, Director of Legal Affairs and Treasurer of The Bahamas.

      For her significant contributions to The Bahamas over many decades Doris Johnson was knighted by the Queen in 1979 becoming only the second Bahamian female to achieve such a distinction. 

      As I noted earlier one of Dame Doris’ great contributions to The Bahamas was as an educator.  So, I must take this opportunity to comment on the power of education in cultivating the mind, character building, and ennobling the human spirit.  And I speak now primarily to the students of Doris Johnson Sr. High School, but also to students throughout our nation.  Those of us who knew her, could almost hear her voice the following observation:

      Through education we can learn more about our own rich history as well as that of others.  In so doing we will discover our shared humanity enabling us to celebrate our differences while becoming more tolerant and open to others, no matter the circumstances of their birth.  As an open dynamic economy, The Bahamas must better understand other cultures and nations.  One of the best ways to understand others is through language.  

      Yes, our primary challenge is to master our native tongue.  But in areas such as tourism, financial services and international business more of us will also have to master other languages: Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese, French and Italian, among others.

      Education provides us various skills and tools for our careers and professions.  Education also provides us tools for the enjoyment of life itself.  It can open our minds and eyes and ears to music and art from around the world, whether we are musicians, artists or simply music lovers or art enthusiasts. 

      Education helps us to develop a critical mind, better able to eliminate nonsense and recognize what the ancient Greek philosophers classically described as’ the good, the true and the beautiful’.  The good, of course, refers to ethics and the moral life.   So, our task as a nation is to fashion students of competence, character and citizenship

      Education is important for the survival of our culture, our values, and our civilization as a whole. Ignorance of the past can condemn us to repeat the mistakes of earlier generations.  Unfortunately, in too many public debates and in the media that ignorance of the past is often on full display, being presented to the uneducated as intelligence.  

      Education also helps to excite the imagination and open new fields of enterprise and endeavour one may not have originally thought of as a profession.  In today’s Bahamas new possibilities are on the horizon: from organic farming to marine biology to advancing alternative and sustainable energy like wind, wave and solar power.

      There is also the field of heritage and environmental preservation with careers as park wardens, specialists in national park management, botanists and others, all of which will help The Bahamas to preserve and showcase our rich natural and built heritage.

      We continue to need additional nurses and medical doctors and good legal and business minds.  We need more good maths and science teachers. Moreover, we desperately need skilled technicians, artisans and craftspeople in a broad range of areas.  We do not today have sufficient skilled Bahamians in the construction industry – engineers, quantity surveyors and architects, various maritime services and in the repair of cruise ships and other vessels.  

      Still, the basis for all of these careers is the mastering of English and mathematics.  Mastering these areas are not ends in themselves; rather, they are the means for lifelong learning as well as general advancement.  Mastering English improves our communication and comprehension skills enabling us to become critically-minded thinkers and informed citizens.

      An area of education that is critically important is community service. Such service links us to our fellow citizens and country and encourages us to give back to our community: to become ‘givers’ and not ‘takers’ only. There has been much generosity by young Bahamians from our public and private schools in service to others, and for which we are very grateful.  However, over time our community service-learning programmes will need to be made even more effective with a stronger learning component.

Ladies and Gentlemen


      You students who are privileged to attend the Doris Johnson Senior High School can say with pride that you study in a state-of-the-art education facility.  This school was constructed at a cost of some $12 million, on a 15 plus acre lot, to accommodate students residing in the eastern end of New Providence Island thereby reducing the demand for space at the R.M. Bailey High School.

      As you are aware, this school, which opened with a population of 634 students in September, 2002, today has an enrolment of more than 1,000 students, 73 teachers, and 7 administrators. The school comprises 25 regular classrooms, six science labs, three computer labs, 21 other subject specific labs and rooms, two workshops, four cosmetology rooms, two general purpose rooms, and shower and changing room facilities.  And you now have sporting facilities and a cosmetology block.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

      This high school is a part of a long range plan to repair and expand and upgrade our educational institutions.  CV Bethel High School and the Anatol Rodgers Jr. High School here in New Providence and the St. Georges and Jack Hayward High Schools and the Sr. Patricia Russell Jr. High School in Grand Bahama, are all examples of the type institution we seek to provide and maintain for growing numbers of our young people.  

      The plan encompasses education at all levels and hence the construction of as many as eight new primary schools and the upgrade of many others to provide top notch accommodations for our youngest students.  

      We are also refining and redefining the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute to better meet the needs and demands of our economy for skilled workers.  

      Notwithstanding the huge and continuing investment in our education plant, in tuition, materials and supplies and in a qualified teaching staff, (education receiving the largest portion of the nation’s budget annually) we are not satisfied that a sufficient number of students enrolled in our government-operated schools are achieving their potential.  

      If it were only the press reporting on the low levels of achievement of many of our students enrolled in government-operated schools we would be mildly alarmed.  However, employers report that far too many recent graduates of our schools do not have the skills and training to fill vacancies even at the entry level of their businesses – as clerks and secretaries, front-desk clerks and receptionists, as book-keepers, or as construction or mechanic apprentices.  This is reason for alarm.

      And, the College of The Bahamas notes that it continues to be required to offer too many pre-college level classes (particularly in Maths and English Language) to bring prospective students up to the level required to commence tertiary level studies.  Clearly remedial action must be taken.

      There are many reasons and explanations for the poor results obtained by too many of our students in standard academic and technical tests administered by our education system.  While we continue to respond to recommendations and proposals for improvements to the extent possible, we have much work to do to achieve our national objectives.
And, in addition to the academic, technical and vocational areas, we continue to implement programmes to promote among our young people and students, the importance of non-violent resolution of disputes.

      We are pleased to note some benefit is being realized from the reduced class sizes, improved tuition facilities and increased teaching and learning materials made available at the primary and secondary school levels, but we accept that more is required.

   We are particularly pleased that students from this school are setting a standard to be emulated by others.  It is especially noteworthy that the Doris Johnson Senior High School has:

    * the most students in a Government-operated School receiving “A” –“C” passes on the BGCSE examinations;
    * the most students receiving “A’s” and “B’s” in a Government School in the country;
    * Four students receiving the College of The Bahamas’ prestigious President’s Scholarship Award;
    * winning 1st Place in the Texaco Road Safety Speech Competition,
    * winning 1st Place at the Model United Nations Session Debate,
    * placing 1st at the Inter-School Science Quiz, and
    * being the Government School Secondary Association Soccer Champions.  


      I assure you that the Government will continue to place emphasis on programmes which support your educational achievement.  I trust that the success being achieved at this school will encourage additional numbers of our students around the country to set goals for themselves and then to set about working to attain them.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

      Before closing, I wish to express the thanks of the Government for the fine services of all those who worked on the design and construction of Doris Johnson Senior High, including the architects for the project, Winston Jones & Associates Ltd., and the builders: Sunco Developers who constructed the main school complex, Redwin Grant Construction which constructed the Technical Laboratory block containing auto mechanic and  woodwork shops, and Scorpio Construction Company Limited which constructed the Cosmetology and Physical Education block including sporting facilities.         

      I thank also the Minister of Education, the Hon. Desmond Bannister and the personnel of the Ministry and Department of Education for their commitment to the children of our country.

      I acknowledge and thank you Madam Principal, the administrators, teachers, counselors and coaches of the Doris Johnson Senior High School for your dedication and hard work every day and very particularly in connection with today’s festivities; and I thank School Board Members for their continuing interest in our school and in the development of our young people. 

      I thank those parents and guardians who are consistently involved in the education of their children and who make sacrifices on their behalf.

      It now gives me great pleasure, in honour of one of our country’s outstanding nation builders, to declare the Doris Johnson Senior High School officially open.

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