Farewell in dance

by Latoya Burnham

Boom ticking: Blackman showed her agility with the Class 4s in Bumbatuk.
Boom ticking: Blackman showed her agility with the Class 4s in Bumbatuk.

It would be most accurate to say former teacher Cecile Blackman danced her way into retirement yesterday morning.

The teacher of more than 30 years was escorted into the Gordon Greenidge Primary like a queen for her ultimate farewell to the strains of the famous The Sound of Music.

It was perhaps a fitting welcome to her goodbye party, because as the programme progressed, it became apparent that here was a teacher who had kept music alive within the school in more ways than one.

Principal Angela Smith recalled her early days learning Information Technology with Blackman in 1999, and that some years later they would get to know each other even more closely when Smith was reassigned to head the Bakers, St. James institution.

Smith commented on Blackman’s “love and passion for music”, something she passed on to both students and staff alike, as well as her ability to go beyond the call of duty, describing her as “a cornerstone of the school”.

“She was dependable and carried out her duties admirably,” said Smith, also noting that as principal she was always reminded by her colleague and friend, to “be anxious for nothing”.

Extending open arms to her former mate to visit whenever she felt the need, the principal stated that the school was bidding farewell to someone who was “a major life-blood of this institution”.

In her tribute which left much of the audience bursting with laughter and dabbing tears of mirth, teacher Glynnis Brathwaite told of Blackman’s determination and commitment to her students and to the school and staff.

She recalled the many times Blackman went out of her way to be kind to a fellow staff member, while making it seem like it was simply coincidence, even as Blackman’s friend Agnes Bowen remembered her keen fashion sense and the way in which she was always well coordinated in her dress.

Students also took the opportunity to show their love and appreciation in song, rhythm poetry and dance, the latter which they more than incorporated Blackman’s talents.

Her colleagues and friends had told of her love of dancing, particularly line dancing, and the Class 1 students performed one of the dances she taught them to Something’s Happening, while Class 2 student Kyra Arthur got Blackman out of her seat and dancing along with her as her classmates sang, I Hope You Dance.

The performance that again brought tears of laughter to many eyes though was that of the Class 4s who did a presentation titled Bumbatuk. The rhythm poetry with elements of dance saw students encouraging Blackman out of her seat to dance the boom tick tick along with them, as the audience screamed their approval.

Teacher Brent Blackett also favoured her with a stirring saxophone rendition of Stevie Wonder’s Isn’t She Lovely, while the Infants A class told her she was Simply The Best, and the Receptions sought to give her Timely Advice on her retirement. latoyaburnham@barbadostoday.bb

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