The island’s most modern secondary school will now be known by a new name that evokes decades of development and national service. The former Marigot Secondary School, opened in 2006, was officially renamed the Jon Odlum Secondary School during a function held for the purpose on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Mr. Odlum served as Member of Parliament for Castries South for 23 years, prior to which he was one of Saint Lucia’s first Labour and Social Welfare Officers.
Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony remarked that the ceremony was being held “to celebrate the memory of Jon Odlum, and to cast his name in stone to recognise him as another great Saint Lucian who has contributed to our development.” Indicating that the school was intended to serve children from the communities of Anse La Raye, Canaries, Roseau, and Cul de Sac, the Prime Minister also reminded that its construction was a long-held ambition for Jon Odlum.
Said Dr. Anthony,
“He beat the pavement and the muddy paths of the Cul de Sac, Marigot, Barre St. Joseph, and Roseau Valley, interacting with the people of these areas, sharing their triumphs and failures, their tears and their pain, and their hopes and dreams.
“He knew very well their plight, their deep poverty, their hand-to-mouth conditions. He always championed education as a means of lifting people out of the debilitating conditions of poverty.
“He knew that education was the only answer to the poverty that had been cultivated from the days of the sugar plantations.
“As such, this school here at Marigot is effectively the tangible pinnacle of a dream, an institution which represents the zenith of Jon’s belief that education was the key to the future of the downtrodden and dispossessed.”
The Prime Minister went on to reveal that the newly renamed Jon Odlum Secondary School had completed the realisation of another goal, that of secondary education for every Saint Lucian child.
Continued Dr. Anthony,
“This school has a special place in our history.
“It was, effectively, the last public secondary school constructed and opened on this island as we pursued at that time the achievement of Universal Secondary Education. USE, as it was dubbed, was an important achievement of the Labour Party Administration I led in 2006.
“And many at the time and perhaps some even now, believed that USE should not have been pursued. It was an incredibly myopic and an elitist view.
“But it is the reality. Some people do not believe in the equity of education. They believe that there should exist an uneducated class upon which to construct an economy to benefit from low wages.
“On the contrary, this Government, this Labour Party Government is resoundingly unapologetic in our belief that education is a basic right; that education is a ladder out of poverty; that education provides the knowledge and skills upon which society and economy are built upon; and that there must be equity and equality in education for all our children.”
The renaming ceremony was attended by Cabinet colleagues, including Minister for Education and current Member of Parliament for Castries South, Hon. Dr. Robert Lewis; members of the Odlum family, including Mr. Odlum’s widow, children, and grandchildren; representatives from the Ministry of Education; and the entire school population.
Mr. Odlum passed away in 2013.