Wet start to new school year

Dreary skies and light drizzles could not put a damper on the opening of school today, as most primary and secondary institutions began the new school year.

Students began queuing at bus stops from as early as 6 a.m. today, waiting for transportation to what were new schools for many.

General Manager of the Transport Board Sandra Forde said things at the terminals went “very smoothly”.

“We are pleased with the turnout. As at 8:30 this morning, I got some photos of the terminal situation at Fairchild Street from my operations manager and it appeared to be fairly clean
. . . not that there were several student there, but those that were, were already accommodated for.”

At Combermere School, Principal Vincent Fergusson was busy meeting parents and new students.

Vincent Fergusson

Fergusson, who was transferred from Coleridge & Parry to replace the retired Vere Parris, told Barbados TODAY everyone had settled in well.

“Combermere had its issues last year and we have done all in our powers to resolve [them],” he said as he ushered new students into the hall for assembly.

“We are not perfect beings so something could flare up in the future, but we have improved almost every possible [issue] that could be problematic.”

The Waterford, St Michael learning institution was plagued with a number of environmental and governance issues over the past two years, forcing several closures.

This year, some 170 students were assigned to the school following the Barbados Secondary Schools Entrance Examinations in May.

“We have a total school roll of just over 1,000, which is really a big school in Barbadians terms. Maybe that is where some of our challenges are also – the size of the school for the original design. [But] Combermere is still the school of choice for most Barbadians. No doubt about it. Most of the students opt [for Combermere] at the Common Entrance level to attend the school.

“My vision is to build on that legacy that Combermere has. It was rocked a bit because of subterraneous challenges last year and the year before. There are some issues with staff morale that can easily be worked on, but the emphasis is going to be on the students, good relationships with the teachers and good relationships with the parents,” Fergusson said.

Meantime, cloudy skies and showers could not put a damper on the occasion for pupils of St Mary Primary School, many of whom greeted their fellow classmates with smiles on their faces, while hugging and kissing their parents goodbye.

Class three student Deshawn Bellamy was among those excited to return to the classroom after a long summer holiday.   

“I real happy to come back to school, big man. I spend almost all my vacation in St Peter with my family. I had to do some work too but I played and when we had all that thunder, I was real frighten to go outside,” he said, seemingly in reference to the passage of what was then Tropical Storm Harvey.

Principal Linda Archer encouraged parents to support their charges academically in the new school year.

“I encourage parents to take an interest in what their children are doing, follow up through school. Don’t wait until class four, ensure they follow the school rules [and] if there are any problems contact me,” she said.

Over at Wesley Hall Junior School, the heavy showers drowned the traditional sound of the school bell, and umbrellas and raincoats were the order of day as students filed through the school gates.

Principal Herbert Gittens told Barbados TODAY there was confusion among parents as to whether or not there would be classes for the students of the junior school.

The confusion, he said, followed an announcement by Minister of Education Ronald Jones that the infant school would not reopen today.

“The Wesley Hall Infants School is closed until next week. That created some challenges because when the announcement had been made, some parents became confused and concerned about whether or not the junior school is open, but I can confirm to you it has started today,” Herbert said.

For Harrison College Principal Juanita Wade it was all about ensuring that the students were settled and ready for work by the fourth period.

Juanita Wade

Speaking to Barbados TODAY after morning assembly, she said everything was on stream, with timetables having been completed at the end of the last school year.

“We take this as a challenge and we respond to every challenge that we have. Our aim is to get school settled as quickly as possible because once we settle it is easier for them to understand our systems and to become a part of it.

“We [also] have new sixth formers coming in as well and we would have had the orientation for them on Thursday last week, again to ensure that when they come today we would have already discussed all of the things that we would have wanted to discuss with them,” Wade explained.

Source: (RG/AGB)

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