Trio transforms St Ann basic school to mark Child Month

OCHO RIOS, St Ann — For as long as educators at Miracle Tabernacle Basic School in St Ann’s Bay could remember, the classrooms have been badly in need of repair but it was a struggle for them to raise the money to do this.

But that has now changed.

Now, its 62 students and four teachers are revelling in the comfort of renovated classrooms thanks to three students of the Vocational Training Development Institute (VTDI) School in Mandeville. To celebrate Child Month this year, the VTDI students decided to give the school a facelift.

It was a win-win. The VTDI students did a good deed that positively impacted the lives of many while fulfilling requirements for their project management assignment.

Over a two-month period the determined trio — Sherrie-Ann Wilson-Brown, Andrica Belcher and Shannelle Nelson — raised $600,000 with assistance from various sponsors who contributed to the cause.

The classrooms were painted; three whiteboards were mounted, giving teachers a reprieve from years of using dusty blackboards; electrical work was done by a major sponsor, Dwayne Electrical and Building Solutions, enabling the school to finally get a stamp of approval from the fire department. The company also installed and repaired fans, light fixtures and outlets in the school.

Principal of Miracle Tabernacle Basic School Racquel Williams Davis was particularly grateful for the electrical work that was done.

“I’m happy that the lighting was adjusted because the place was super dark, especially when it rained; we didn’t have proper lighting. We were also scared of the plugs because they were [uncovered] and dangerous for the students. So we are truly appreciative for the covered sockets and the installations,” Davis told the Jamaica Observer.

The school administrator said while she had initially been reluctant about allowing the trio to undertake the project, she has no regrets that she eventually granted them permission.

“I was a bit sceptical at first because many other foundations came to our school but none actually did anything or came back to us. So I’m grateful today that we were able to benefit from this great project. God sent help right on time because things needed to be done,” Davis said.

“The team went above and beyond to get this project completed,” she added.

As fate would have it, the school was selected only after plans for the VTDI students’ first choice fell through.

“We were planning to do something at the infirmary at first but it never worked out, so we decided to take on this school instead and trust me, it was the best experience,” explained Belcher, one of the three-member team that managed work on the project as part of a school project.

“We are really happy that we could have given the school this well-needed change, especially the whiteboard because we really wanted to get them to be as modern as possible,” she added.

That upgrade was also welcomed by Davis.

“Yes, because the blackboard with the chalk used to affect the children’s sinus,” she chimed in.

The trio of good Samaritans also purchased refrigerators for the school, along with commodities that board Chairman Lincoln Brown said they had been hoping to provide for students.

“We met as a board and we saw where these things were needed and we were trying to address them. But in the fullness of time, the Lord sent a team to help us so we could get this done. We wouldn’t be able to raise so much money until maybe another three years,” he stated.

“So I want to thank the team for the work they have done because nothing that we take on in this life is easy and they pulled through,” Brown added.

The dynamics at the 40-year-old institution have changed significantly since the facelift, a transformation that has not gone unnoticed by Wilson-Brown, another member of the project management team.

“I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who made this project a success. With these renovated classrooms the students now have a better learning space that will enhance their academic performance and well-being,” she told the Observer.