On January 23, 1967, the long-awaited Cayman Brac Secondary Modern School opened with 73 students and 4 staff members, and great excitement in the community. Previous to this time, the Jamaica Local Centre had been the only Government facility whereby Brac students could pursue education beyond Standard 6 – which represented 8 years of formal schooling- with most students reaching this point at about 14 years of age.
Those who were successful in passing 1st, 2nd and 3rd Year Exams at the Centre were eligible to pursue enrolment at Teacher’s Colleges in Jamaica – Shortwood (females) or Mico (male students only at that time) – and many took advantage of that opportunity. Of the other students, most of the males opted for a career at sea, while the females settled for whatever employment could be found on the Brac. Some moved to Grand Cayman to explore the possibilities of further education or employment there, and a few went to Jamaica as well as the USA. Often this meant that an entire family would relocate in pursuit of higher education and/or employment. The evidence of this lies in the many successful longterm enterprises on Grand Cayman which are owned by Cayman Brackers.
Sister Islands elected representative, Capt. Keith Tibbetts, along with his colleague, Burns Rutty, had fought for a high school on the Brac for many years and finally, with a grant from Colonial Development Funds from UK, the school was completed at an estimated cost of £20,000. Local builder, Lee Jervis, was supervised by V.S.O. Engineer Mike Griffiths, although the plan was designed with a UK climate in mind. This was evident by the provision of an area that soon became a bicycle room when builders were instructed to do away with the design that called for coat hooks around the walls of that room! Preparation of the site in the middle of the island began in February 1966, with completion in December that same year. Layman E Scott Sr, who at that time was working in Canada, was recruited by Cayman Islands Government Chief Education Officer, Mrs Islay Conolly, to be the first Principal.
Initial staff also included Mr G. Hartwell Wood of Bodden Town, Grand Cayman, Ms Joan Hughes of U.K., and Ms Virginia Tibbetts of Cayman Brac. Mr Wood had recently graduated from Mico Training College, Jamaica. Ms Hughes was a 1960 graduate of St Mary’s College, UK with 6 years teaching experience in Newcastle, England. Ms Tibbetts (now Castillo) had just graduated from Bob Jones Academy and, at 15 years of age, was the youngest graduate of that institution.
She was challenged with students older than she was herself, but had a keen desire to impart to her fellow Brackers that which she had learned. She had received her early education at West End Primary School with Mr Scott as Headmaster, and also at the Jamaica Local Centre. Besides these staff members and an air of apprehension mixed with high anticipation, there was not much else with which to operate a high school.
Cayman Brac Secondary Modern School.