As a demonstration of its appreciation for the achievements of the former politician and educator, the federal government has now re-named the Sandy Point High School, which from Thursday, will be known as the Charles E Mills Secondary School.
While paying tribute to Mr. Mills, the Education Minister, Mr. Nigel Carty, declared that some of the students who walked through the halls of the school over the years, have now graduated to excel in business, politics, academics and community service.
Mr. Mills, who was born in Sandy Point on 18th June, 1921 attained his early education at the Sandy Point Boys School, an institution where at the age of 13 he later taught as a student pupil and eventually led the institution as headmaster.
In the presence of scores of government officials, students, teachers, community residents, family members, the nation’s Prime Minister and other guest speakers at the re-naming ceremony, highlighted the record and contributions that were delivered by Mr. Mills during his long and outstanding career as an educator.
While making the formal announcement, Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas said that “It is a great day for the Mills family and people of Sandy Point because today we remember the vision and sacrifice of Mr. Mills”.
Dr. Douglas said that his former Labour Party colleague and the person he succeeded as the parliamentary representative for the St. Pauls district, was someone who was born and lived in Sandy Point all his life. It was also the place where he, (Mr. Mills), died in 2007, at the age of 86.
Douglas said that Charlie Mills, as he was affectionately called, did something that had never been done before in the Caribbean, when he convinced the government at the time, to introduce the new system of Comprehensive Secondary Education. The Prime Minister asserted that Mr. Mills had made the case in the early 1970s that secondary education must be free, accessible and mandatory for every boy and girl in St. Kitts-Nevis (and Anguilla).
As a consequence, said Douglas, the doors of all secondary schools were opened up to all children in the country. He made the claim that during the 1960s, some 96% of children attending primary school had to leave at an early age, because they were denied the opportunity to continue their education at the secondary level.
The Prime Minister argued that the old system of education dashed the hopes and aspirations of many young Kittitians and Nevisians, because at the time, the prevailing economic and social conditions closed the doors of opportunity for many who wanted a secondary education.
Education was said to be the true passion of Mr. Mills and given the six decades of service, Prime Minister Douglas said that it was, “In a spirit of utmost respect and acknowledgement that I dedicate the Sandy Point High School to the memory of a true patriot.”
Douglas said that the school was being dedicated to the memory and work of Mr. Mills, who served as the country’s Chief Education Officer in the 1970s. He went on to become the Minister of Finance in the Administration of the late Premier, Mr. Lee L. Moore. When Moore lost his seat in parliament, Mills became the Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly.
Charlie Mills retired from active politics in 1989, clearing the way for Dr. Denzil Douglas to run as the Labour candidate in the strong-hold constituency of St. Christopher 6, running from Parsons to Newton Ground. During the early period of Mr. Mills’ tenure in parliament, however, the constituency also included Sdy. Point and was categorized then as St. Christopher 5.
Mr. Mills who was married for some 52 years to Mrs. Sylvia Mills, graduated with a Bachelors Degree from the University of the West Indies, and used his tertiary education to chart the course of his contribution which spanned 60 years, before his death three years ago. He was also knighted by Her Majesty the Queen and served as Governor Generals Deputy between 1995 and 2004.