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The Very First Schools in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

By Angel Nuñez
Which elementary school in San Pedro did you attend?  When I thought for a long time that I attended the first one in the 1950’s, I now learn from a new friend, Mr. Ernesto “Neto” Alamilla, that he attended the very first one in the 1930 which was a  two story building right on the beach in front of the Central Park.  It was called the San Pedro R.C. School from those days so we take it that it was run by the Catholic Mission even back then.  Neto Alamilla tells me that in those days the teachers were mostly Caribs and that the stress was not only on reading and writing but on good discipline as well.  Most of the kids only reached standard four or five and at age fourteen they left school to commence their lives in fishing.

The Hurricanes of 1942 and then 1941 both wrecked havoc in San Pedro and after the last collapse, the folks of the village joined hands an reconstructed this new building into a single floor but elevated about three to four feet. It was long building with no partitions.  The blackboards served to separate one classroom from the other. This school building was used from 1942 all the way up until 1961 when it as destroyed by Hurricane Hattie.

The Very First Schools in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

1st Roman Catholic School in the 30’s

The Very First Schools in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

2nd Roman Catholic School in the 40’s (above and below)

The Very First Schools in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

So where did the children of San Pedro go after this Hurricane blow?  Well, the Catholic Church was fortunately spared and remained standing.  This building was a U-shaped structure consisting of the Church, the Rectory and an adjoining building which was the nuns’ and scouts’ quarters when they made their summer trip to San Pedro.  This building served for our school quarters for two years.

The Very First Schools in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

3rd School Location -The Scout’s Room was used temporarily for two years

While we were attending classes in the church building, construction was ongoing with the very first ferro-concrete large building in San Pedro. The government of George Price, with the Honorable Louis Sylvestre as our Area Representative has to be given all the credit for this tremendous accomplishment for San Pedro.  The PUP at the time did not waste time in granting this much needed structure for the education of San Pedro’s children as well as for a hurricane shelter. In 1963 without much ceremony and without any campaign promises, the building was turned over to the Bishop of Belize to manage the new San Pedro R.C. School under the leadership of a lady Garifuna Principal, Mrs. Palacio.  I missed attending classes in this spanking building because it was the same year that I went to high school in ‘Belize City.  Hon. Manuel Heredia and many of my childhood friends did attend classes there for a year or two.

This, my friends, is quite likely the most complete story of elementary education in San Pedro. Next week, the story of the very first high school, complete with names, anecdotes, and photos.

The Very First Schools in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

4th Roman Catholic School Location

25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today -Jose Luis Zapata Photography –Richie’s Stationery -Lala’s Store -Pampered Paws -San Pedro BTB Office -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush
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