Olympic track star Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie joins U.S. Embassy’s Reading Program at Woodcock Primary


Sixth grade student Dylan Cash reads as Bahamian Olympic athlete Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie and U.S. Chargè d’Affaires Brent Hardt look on.


Shows from left back row: Mrs. Deborah Coleby, Vice Principal; Denise Moss, Voucher Examiner; Paul Jukic, Political Officer; Sheletia Kemp, Visa Clerk; David Mytych, Embassy Intern; Bryan Watts, OPBAT; Theodore McDonald, Investigator. Front row from left: Katherine Stewart-Gibson, Public Affairs Specialist; U.S. Chargè d’Affaires, Dr. Brent Hardt; Olympic gold medalist, Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie; Mrs. Deanne Huyler, principal and Pamela Taylor, Office Management Specialist. (Photo by Public Affairs Section)

Nassau, Bahamas – The faculty and students at Woodcock Primary School got a special treat on Wednesday, October 24 with a visit by Bahamian Olympic track star Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie. Ms. Ferguson-McKenzie accepted an invitation by U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Dr. Brent Hardt, to participate in the Embassy’s reading program at the school. She was the first “Celebrity Reader” for the 2007/2008 academic year.

During the visit, Mrs. Ferguson-McKenzie and Dr. Hardt read to students in Grade 6P. Several students also assisted by reading excerpts from the book, “A Bahamian Boyhood”, by Chester Thompson. Ms. Ferguson-McKenzie challenged the students to seize every opportunity to learn while they are in primary school. She encouraged them to work together and support each other, and said that no matter where they start in life the important thing is how they finish. Drawing on her own life story, Ms. Ferguson-McKenzie told the students their potential was limitless if they worked hard and were dedicated to achieving their goals.
The Woodcock Primary Reading Program is now into its third year. Each Wednesday Embassy staff volunteers read to students in grades 1 – 6. The Celebrity Reader component of the program was introduced two years ago to encourage private sector and other outside support in the hope that businesses and other organizations would undertake similar reading programs in other schools. The popular initiative promotes a love of reading among Bahamian primary school students.

Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie reading to students in grade 6P as Chargè d’Affaires, Dr. Brent Hardt looks on.