Pictured: Moments after the unveiling of the plaque, family, friends and community members gathered for a commemorative photo marking the naming of the WHS Auditorium as the Walter M. Gibson Auditorium.

Windermere High School (WHS), on Saturday, March 23rd, 2019, formally renamed their auditorium located at the center of the school’s campus grounds, the Walter M. Gibson Auditorium during a brief ceremony.  Dr. Walter Marlow Gibson, who had been the Chairman of the WHS Board of Directors, passed away on January 24th, 2019.

Before the renaming ceremony, friends, family, alumni and community members attended a memorial service held at the Wesley Methodist church in Savannah Sound to honour the life and memory of Dr. Gibson at 11am on Saturday morning.  Following the memorial, those in attendance made their way to the Windermere High School campus, where Dr. Gibson’s widow, Mrs. Sandra Gibson, and his daughter, Dr. Lauren Gibson, unveiled a plaque commemorating the auditorium in Dr. Gibson’s name.

Above: Dr. Gibson’s widow, Mrs. Sandra Gibson (right of plaque), and his daughter, Dr. Lauren Gibson (left of plaque), unveiled the plaque commemorating the auditorium in Dr. Gibson’s name.

Acting Principal at Windermere High School, Mr. Limerick, during the plaque unveiling ceremony, announced that a number of other changes were also taking place at the school, in efforts to expand their offerings to both current and incoming students, saying, “Starting in September, we intend to provide the grade seven children with internet access, and we want to do some more exciting classroom programs….  We have some online programs we want to introduce, including Math, Literature, Spanish and already existing programs, apart from what we hope to develop – proper programs in Agriculture, Home Economics, Music, and other foreign languages…  So we are going to focus on the incoming students, and we are going to make sure that what we offer the incoming grade seven students is a wider variety that can be offered anywhere else on the island.”  The school has partnered with a local virtual education program provider, out of New Providence, Global Conversations Development Center, said Mr. Limerick, to realize the upgrade in its online offerings.

He continued, adding, “However, we are also going to focus on providing pre-college training for our kids.  We currently have our grade elevens completing their BGCSE’s, so, when they get into grade 12, there are all kinds of advanced programs we want to be focused on – We want to focus on an AP program.  We also want to deal with the SAT/ACT Prep – we are going to run that locally.  This school is actually the center for Eleuthera for all the programs from the College Board.  So, we will provide those, starting with the PSAT’s, and the SAT’s, and the AP programs.  We currently have a very qualified staff.  We are able, from the staff we have to source at least three programs.  But, because we are going to be heavily focused on online education, we can also access teacher resources, for example, from the University of the Bahamas (UB).  We already have one of the UB lecturers who works along with us in providing those programs.”

A memorial service to celebrate and honour the life of Dr. Walter M. Gibson was hosted at the Wesley Methodist Church in Savannah Sound.

Dr. Barry McCartney, Acting Chairman of the WHS Board of Directors – both friend and colleague of the late Dr. Walter M. Gibson, was also on island for the memorial service and auditorium renaming ceremony.   Following the ceremony, in his capacity with the Board, Dr. McCartney commented on upcoming changes to the Board, the direction of new initiatives at the school, some of the challenges faced, and the timeline for the new initiatives and projects at WHS.  “I’ve been on the Board with Dr. Gibson since 2000, and with his passing, the baton has been passed to me to carry it on.  So, I’m actually now the Acting Chairman of the Board.  We are currently reconstituting a new Board, because some people have retired, while others are now passed on, so, we are bringing in some new blood with new ideas.  We will be making a final announcement by the end of the month.  So there will be some new faces, and a lot of new ideas to Windermere.

“We are going to be introducing a new program, particularly the AP (Advanced ) program.  We want to accelerate our kids getting to do BJC’s and BGCSE’s, and getting them prepared for college.  So, we are going to have new, accelerated programs coming on.  We are going to be using virtual learning technology as well.  So, there are more contact learning hours with the students.  It’s going to be very student centered, and with more contact hours, I’m sure we are going to see better grades, better pass rates, and overall better students.

“The biggest challenge has been funding.  We have tried to keep the school fees reasonable, so that wouldn’t be an impediment for parents sending their children here.  So we are looking for more sponsorship.  We are looking for more revenue producing programs, in the way of extramural and vocational studies for adult education.  So we will use the campus for more money generating programs, and we think that will bolster the finances of the school significantly.

“We are also looking at getting more teachers.  We want to get a chapel built, also more dormitories, and more classrooms. So, there is a lot of infrastructure development that we intend to do.  Big projects, but we can make it happen.  We are committed.

“We are looking within the year to see significant changes in the curriculum.  By the beginning of the next school year, we are going to announce those ahead of time.  The infrastructural improvements, certainly within five years, we are hoping to achieve all of those.