The First School in Crooked Tree Village-1835I am able to write about Crooked Tree’s school because the school kept very detailed and historical records over the years, including the changing over of the administration of the village from the Orange Walk to the Belize District in 1953; the World War II surrender of Japan on Friday, August 17, 1945 when the school celebrated a “Holiday Victory”; the historic visit to the village of H.E. Sir Ronald H. Garvey, who was Governor of British Honduras (Belize) from 1949-1952, and his wife Lady Garvey on August 2, 1951. Records were also kept of village students receiving scholarships to attend high schools in Belize City, disciplinary action taken against teachers and students, teachers successfully passing exams at different levels, distinguished visitors to the village, the arts and crafts being taught to pupils such as sewing, gardening, manual training and an added handicraft class for girls which was started on September 26, 1952 with Rochelle Adolphus as instructor. Visits of the rural nurse to vaccinate and treat illnesses in the village, as well as the daily weather, were all documented. A log was kept in numerical order of children enrollment in the school. Let’s look at this information in detail.
The first school in the Village of Crooked Tree was built by the Baptist Mission of Belize around June 1835. The school was called the Crooked Tree School and was located on the property of the Crooked Tree Baptist Church. Its first recorded teacher/missionary was Mr. John Warner, an English sailor left behind in Belize, until 1849.
The next of record was Mr. Ebenezer Adolphus a native of Belize, formerly British Honduras, who had a First Class Teacher's Certificate. Mr. Adolphus was first placed in charge of a newly opened mission station in Lemonal Village, Spanish Creek, but later transferred to Crooked Tree in 1890, where he served until his death in May, 1925. The school was last managed by Mr. L.A. Francis, the Director of Education, and Mr. R.G. Staine, Secretary of the Baptist Trust Association.
About 1947, the principal of the school, Mr. Sylvester Day reported that the school building was in a state of deterioration with poor accommodation and no operable latrine. The furnishings were inadequate and in urgent need of repair. A comprehensive report by Acting Senior Education Officer, Mr. S. Daley, further confirmed the need for a new school. It was for these reasons that the vision for the new Crooked Tree Government School was developed.
The New Crooked Tree Village School in 1952
Of great interest is the fact that the records of the 1950's show that the summer holidays commenced toward the end of April and classes resumed in June. Also there was a two week rice harvest holiday given in the month of October.
When the new Crooked Tree Government School was opened in 1952, the staff was as follows: Trinidadian-born principal, Mr. Carlos Engleton and his wife Mrs. Norma Engleton, Mr. Carlton Pinks, a native of Orange Walk who was teaching at the Crooked Tree School; Ms. Ellory Brown of Belize City who served as the head of the lower division; Crooked Tree natives, Mr. Cyril Gillett, Miss Norma Rhaburn, Mr. Lionel Tillett and Mr. Enkis Flowers. There were 172 pupils enrolled at the new school, 81 boys and 91 girls. The records show that enrollment fluctuated over the years and rarely exceeded the two hundred mark.
Mr. Carlton Seaford Pinks, Sr.
Mr. Cyril Gillett
RUBY PERRIOTT MARRITH, PH.D
Mrs. Abigail Dawson Tillett, Principal and Vice Principal, Clarence Tillett
The first villager named principal was Mr. Ennis E. Flowers, succeeding Mr. Bernard H. Longworth. Mr. Flowers held this post from 1963-1965. The second villager named principal was Mrs. Abigail Dawson Tillett who succeeded Mr. Howard Burns. Mrs. Tillett now holds a masters degree and is still teaching elementary school in the state of Oklahoma in the United States of America. Her husband, Clarence served as her Vice Principal and he still holds the school record of a 100% success rate in students passing the Primary School Examination in 1971. Other prominent teachers who taught at the school were Abraham Ramos, Cynthia Henry and Oswald Mathews who were not from the village, and Crooked Tree natives Bernice Perriott, Albert (Bato) Codd and Burma Gillett.
Mr. Albert (Bato) Codd
The New Concrete Building (L) Built by the United States Army and the Government of BelizeToday, the Crooked Tree Government School has a total enrollment of 152 pupils, and the Crooked Tree Government Preschool has 20 pupils. The preschoolers’ prescribed seating arrangement is the roundtable set-up and they are not required to take exams. There is also a computer class for higher grade students that are being supervised by the school principal. The staff includes Principal Verla Jex, Mrs. Ardith Tillett, Mrs. Sherolyn Webster, Mr. George Tillett, Mrs. Julia Tillett, Mrs. Winnie Gillett, Mrs. Uriella Wade (Pre-School), and Mrs. Vero Lauriano.
Special thanks to Principal Verla Jex and Teacher Winnie Gillett for access to records and to Winfield Tillett for adding to and editing this article and his visit to the school in May 2010 to retrieve the records and take the pictures, and also Mr. Sam Rhaburn for historical facts.