MONTEGO BAY, St James — There was an overall optimistic approach towards the new academic year as students and staff returned to school in this western city on Monday.
At the Cornaldi Avenue Primary School, Principal Deon Stern Anglin told the Jamaica Observer that she is thrilled to be back face to face with her students. According to Stern Anglin, the first day of school has set the tone for the institution’s year to come.
“We thought it would be a little bit more rigorous but the teachers were here early and the children just went straight ahead to their classrooms, where they settled in. Our school chaplain also came and he covered the school under the blood by praying for us,” the principal said.
For this new school year, Stern Anglin said, the students of Cornaldi Avenue Primary School will continue on its path of excellence.
“This is the home of champions so we are looking for great things this school year. One of our students was awarded a government scholarship this year so I am expecting the other students to excel. I’m guessing that last term was more tedious because of the lockdown for close to two years and we weren’t really socialising,” she told the Observer.
Stern Anglin continued, “I realise that the children are socialising better, so we are expecting that this year will be a good one. I am very optimistic and I know that God has his hands on this school.”
Similarly at St James High School, students were greeted with the regular anniversary celebration which is usually celebrated on the first day of school. Unlike previous years, the staging of the institution’s 61st year of operation was held at Calvary Baptist Church in St James.
Dwight Harrison, an acting vice-principal at the school, told the Observer that St James High School was in “victory mode” on Monday as they aim for a full social transformation of their once-volatile institution.
“This function has been going on for the past few years to celebrate the anniversary of the school, and this is the 61st anniversary. We are celebrating our victory because we have been in a transformational mode under [Principal] Joseph Williams’ leadership,” Harrison said.
After the brief ceremony, which saw past students of the institution sharing encouraging words and stories, students and teachers went on to join members of the school’s band and cadets as they marched from the church yard to their school.
The vice-principal noted that the institution is on a mission to change the face of St James High.
“For this school year we are hoping to have a peaceful and productive year as we move towards more transformation to be recognised as one of the schools of choice in Jamaica,” he said.
Principal of private high school Monsignor Gladstone Wilson College, Dave Soares stated that they, too, are ready for the new academic year. He noted that the two-year-old all-boy school now has six students, a jump from the two they had last year.
Their first day of school was also filled with words of encouragement as the students settled into their new environment.
“We encouraged them to be the best version of themselves and be focused. We also encouraged them to create more soft skills to help create a paradigm shift in society. Our society is really needing soft skills,” Soares said.
“There is too much abuse and aggression taking place so we encouraged them to not only be good academic students, but to be good social beings as well. Without soft skills, societies are going to disintegrate in barbarism and violent behaviours,” he warned.
According to Soares, Monsignor Gladstone Wilson College was born out of a need for additional classroom spaces in the parish.
“It was conceptualised by Dr Horace Chang in collaboration with Minister Karl Samuda and Deacon Ronald Thwaites. They partnered with the Roman Catholic Church in Montego Bay to create an all-boys’ school in the west to create new school spaces, because most of the high schools in Jamaica are terribly overcrowded,” he said.
In the meantime, parent Michana Reid told the Observer that she is excited for her 12-year-old son Javier Fisher to commence his secondary education at the all-boy school.
“I really want him to get the best education and I realised that a lot of the schools are at full capacity in terms of students. I remember going to school and it was a lot of us, so sometimes my teacher didn’t have the time to check my homework,” Reid explained.