bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, amy roberts
Amy Roberts Primary School, circa 2006

If you’re at all interested in Abaco or Bahamian history, you should check out my cousin Evan Lowe’s blog, Out Island Boy. Evan is the grandson of Bessie Curry Lowe, sister to my great-grandfather, Herman Curry. We connected online several years back and since then, we’ve shared the fun (and, occasionally, the frustration…) of tracing our common island roots.

In his latest blog post, School Days, Evan writes about Green Turtle Cay’s tiny Amy Roberts Primary School (originally known as the All Age School.) He draws on accounts from his late father’s journals, as well as interviews with Bahamians who either attended the school or who knew its earliest teachers and schoolmasters.

Pupils of the Green Turtle Cay All Age School, circa 1933. Photo courtesy of the Albert Lowe Museum.

My own grandmother, Lurey Curry Albury (1919-2010), attended the All Age School from the mid-1920s to the mid-1930s. That’s her, second from left in the back row of the above photo. Her teacher, Amy Roberts, for whom the school would later be renamed, is at the far right of the picture.

“Before 1932,” my grandmother told me, “we had a big school. There was an upstairs and it had porches. We did regular school work and singing and prayers. And Amy Roberts would teach crochet work and sewing to the older girls.”

Bahamian artist and historian (and my cousin) Alton Lowe, says the original All Age School was in fact very large, able to accommodate up to 400 students. Plays were often staged at the school, he says, for the enjoyment of the entire settlement.

But on September 5, 1932 — what was to be the first day of school after summer vacation — a category 5 hurricane took direct aim at Green Turtle Cay. During the storm, which battered the cay for three long days, people with houses on low-lying land took refuge on the school steps when their homes flooded.

“They said they could feel those steps shaking,” my grandmother told me. “Later on, people whose houses had been destroyed tried to get up to the schoolhouse for shelter,” she said. “But the school was gone.

1932_r
Nassau’s Jack Mertland Malone stands in the ruins of Green Turtle Cay’s All Age School shortly after the 1932 hurricane. Photo courtesy of Marysa Malone/Wayne Neely.

Sadly, when the hurricane moved on, all that remained of the big, beautiful All Age School was its Abaco pine floor.

With lumber and building materials difficult to come by, and with the local population dwindling as families moved away in search of work, the people of New Plymouth built a smaller, more modest school — the building we see today.

amy roberts, bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay

To learn more about the early years of the Amy Roberts Primary School, see Evan’s terrific blog post.

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, amy roberts
An encouraging message etched into the concrete steps of the Amy Roberts Primary School.

2 thoughts on “The Early Days of Amy Roberts Primary School

  • August 28, 2014 at 6:21 am
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    Great blog. Can’t believe I just discovered it. My father-in-law was Jack Malone in the hurricane photo and my mother’s great grandgather hailed from Green Turtle Cay.(Thomas Russell) Most interesting information. Thank you.

    Reply
  • August 29, 2014 at 5:07 am
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    Thank you so much for posting the Blogs about Island Boy, and all the History that is recorded there, I haven’t had time to read it all yet, but it is so interesting! I am enjoying seeing your Blog. I was born in Green Turtle Cay,my mother was Nellie Hodgkins. I was able to be there for the Festival this year. I really enjoy visiting, I live in Eleuthera.

    Thanks again Have a great day! Margaret Albury Date: Thu, 28 Aug 2014 00:38:33 +0000 To: alburysatchapelhill@hotmail.com

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