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Art in the Bahamas has been undergoing a revival for some time, the likes of which are seen in the artist-driven efforts to create festivals, galleries and events to create an exciting creative economy in the country.
One such effort is the annual theater festival Shakespeare in Paradise, founded by Nicolette Bethel and Philip Burrows, which will kick off on September 30th and run until October 8th.
Though only in its third year, the seeds for such a festival were sown when the pair visited the Oregon Shakespeare Theatre Festival in the 1990s.
"I thought, 'Can't we do this in The Bahamas? It would be such a great addition to our tourism industry," Festival Director Nicolette Bethel says.Not only that, but she saw the festival filling the void of a rich theater culture that had so unfortunately fallen by the wayside in The Bahamas, encouraging all artists involved in theater to come together and rebuild an industry that she knows the country has the capability to sustain.
"I felt that because there was no theater happening, young Bahamians were going back to square one, not building on what we had done and trying to build a theater industry but not having any ground on which to stand and no connection with the generation above," she says.
The result was a theater festival with a wide range of productions by local groups and visiting groups--yet every year they offer a signature Bahamian production and a signature Shakespeare production.
This year's Bahamian production, "Dis We Tings" echoes the sentiments of disconnect between generations expressed by Bethel above. Originally produced two decades ago by a group of performers and cultural thinkers, "Dis We Tings" was a musical written in response to the need in the 1980s for young Bahamians to learn about their country and culture in a rapidly-changing world.
This time around, the production has been revived and re-imagined into a 2011 version covering even up to date historical changes--like the recent formation of the DNA party and the current Dengue outbreak--that addresses issues both serious and frivolous but undoubtedly Bahamian through fun songs and witty banter.
"It's updated completely, it's a completely new script. It's the 21st century 'Dis We Tings'," says Bethel, who is directing the production. "It's about Bahamian heritage, but it's also about Bahamian history because we found a lot of people don't know enough about history--history is not taught in schools."
"So we really wanted to give a sense of Bahamian history, also perhaps to jog decision makers to help them understand that, you know, we do need history in schools," she continues.
Another local production offered by the festival will be "Pat Rahming, alias Pat Rahming", where the poet, playwright and singer will perform during a low-key evening in the beautiful setting of Nirvana.
A visiting production with a Bahamian history plot-line will also aim to educate viewers. "Mariah Brown", a one-woman play by Sandra Riley, will recount the story of the Bahamian pioneer who settled in Florida to establish Key West.
Meanwhile, high drama will be offered through the festival's signature Shakespeare production--the dark and scandalous "Julius Caesar", directed by Philip Burrows, Artistic Director of Shakespeare in Paradise.
What makes Shakespeare so appropriate again and again no matter the time period are his overarching themes, and this year it's no different with 2012 elections looming at home and in our neighboring U.S. and with the world facing political turmoil.
Indeed, the production will take place in a stark minimalist set and modern dress, putting the play's very issues of rhetoric and power on full display. Though the script was abridged, it was not heavily 'Bahamianized', though Burrows does admit to taking an interesting musical direction that audiences may enjoy.
In the end though, he points out, making a Shakespearean production accessible to the public and especially to schools and setting it in this way allows for audiences to relate to the brilliant literature.
"As a student, when I did English and literature in school, Shakespeare was very boring," he says. "It was very boring because my teacher didn't know how to teach it. The next year it was incredibly exciting because I had a teacher who was incredibly excited to get into it."
"Had I been able to go and see people doing productions and see it in a different sort of way, a modern way, I would have totally been more appreciative of all that's going on," he continues. "It gives you an opportunity to see Shakespeare, some of the best literature ever written, and hope people have a better understanding and appreciation."
This is especially true for students who have Shakespearean plays on their BGCSE examinations--and in this vein, as part of their festival, Shakespeare in Paradise offers cheaper matinee tickets for classes from local schools to attend the different productions in the three days leading up to its official opening.
"We are determined to have people grow up seeing theatre and understanding what it's all about," says Burrows. "Supporting the arts from that age--students are very important, it's an important part of what we do in Shakespeare in Paradise and we will be doing it again this year."
This is all part of their student outreach--a valuable component to the festival for building cultural appreciation among the student population. Last year, Burrows says they exposed 3,000 students in The Bahamas to components of their festival.
In addition to providing students with tickets to three of their stage productions, they also have a special production available to students only--Bard to Go.
This small troupe of college students from the Grand Valley State University travels worldwide enacting noteworthy scenes from Shakespeare's many scripts, tweaked through a 21st century lens, to introduce student groups to his work. This year their production is "Lovestruck", which takes a tour of some of Shakespeare's famous love scenes with a reality television "Bachelor" twist.
In addition, they provide Saturday morning workshops for up-and-coming playwrights, where participants in the festival give feedback to these scripts to help build a critical language and framework in the industry.
"The idea untimely is we want to get from our play reading series new plays that we can introduce into the festival so that there wil always be a Bahamian play, a Shakespeare play, and a brand-new Bahamian play that was discovered through play reading series," explains Bethel.
They even reach out to student artists in their Young Artists Program, appealing to them to create uniquely designed posters for each production, which will also be available on limited edition t-shirts with the artist's contact information. This year, participating artists are Khia Poitier ("Julius Caesar"); Kachelle Knowles ("Mariah Brown"); Charlthorn Strachan ("Pat Rahming, Alias Pat Rahming"); Reuno Pratt ("Bard to Go"); and Rashad Ferguson ("Dis We Tings").
Indeed, the festival offers an exciting array of both local and international productions which will all give audiences something to think about and build upon what's proving to become--three years later--a rich theatre industry.
"What we really want to do is to expose young people to a range of theatre--not just Bahamian-style but all different kinds of styles--and to inspire different kinds of writing, different kinds of performance," explains Bethel.
"I think that is happening, I think that there is something like that going on--I don't think Shakespeare in Paradise can take all the credit, but there seems to be a new buzz in theatre."
The full schedule of events for Shakespeare in Paradise, which runs September 30th-October 8th, can be found on their website at www.shakespeareinparadise.org.
Tickets are $25 per performance. Advance ticket sales begin on Monday, September 12th through online bookings at their website above, and they will offer a special discount for early birds (4 tickets for $80). Regular ticket sales begin on the 19th through the Dundas box office.
Five finalists for the Bahamas Financial Services Board's (BFSB) student of the year award show others the way to success
PICS e-mailed previously
D'ANDRA LETITIA GREENSDLADE
D'Andra graduated from the College of the Bahamas (COB) in 2010 with a BBA Degree in Accounting, with Distinction.
She completed her secondary school education at the Bahamas Academy of Seventh-Day Adventists, graduating in 2005 as Class Salutatorian with Honours. She won the Accounting Awards at her annual Honours Convocation, achieving an A grade in Accounts BGCSE.
While at COB (2005-2010), D'Andra remained on the Dean's List every semester and achieved the President's Awa ...
The Nassau Guardian interviewed some of the young track and field athletes yesterday for our television news broadcast who were successful at the recent World Youth Championships in Lille, France.
It was a pleasure to see the young people talk about their experiences and successes at the event. We won three gold medals and one bronze medal. Twin brothers Latario and Lathone Collie-Minnis won gold and bronze in the triple jump, respectively; Stephen Newbold won a gold medal in the 200 meters and Shaunae Miller won gold in the 400 meters.
These are troubling times in The Bahamas. By the end of this year, in all likelihood, there will be a fourth murder record in five years. Many of those killings were committed by young people - young men in particular. If one spent a day standing at the court complex at Bank Lane, hundreds of young men in handcuffs, chains and sometimes shackles accused with vile crimes would be observed.
These young athletes have chosen a different path guided by family and guardians. Success in athletics requires discipline and dedication. Being born with talent alone will not lead to global sporting success.
If more of our young people would embrace hard work and dedication to noble goals much of the dysfunction and crime in our country would not exist.
It must be remembered, though, that these children did not become successes alone. The parents and guardians we mentioned are key components in that success.
Parents and guardians can inspire. They also have the role of maintaining discipline and guiding ambitions. It is not good enough simply to buy your children all the materialistic nonsense they crave and assume you have been a good parent.
Good leaders in the household notice those things their children are good at and they steer them towards those things, noting that sacrifice and struggle are required for achievement. Those good household leaders also put down rules in order to ensure that those children put in the required work to be successful, ensuring that the lives of those children are not derailed due to pursuit of foolishness.
At times, all of us can become a little dismayed due to the under-performance of many of our young people. The public school average for the Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) exams is near an F. The boys in the public school system especially are not doing well.
In the context of these conditions, these young athletes demonstrate that our situation is not hopeless. We have young people in our jurisdiction raised by Bahamian parents in Bahamian schools who can be the best at something in the world among their peers.
Hopefully, the success of these children, who look like us and speak like us, will inspire some of the other children who are not doing as well. What must be understood, though, is these young people who are being honored and interviewed were not lucky. They worked hard and sacrificed for their success. Those who do the same can too be good at the course they pursue.
On July 24, students of the RBC Summer Arts Workshop visited the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB). The visit to NAGB enhanced the ongoing partnership between RBC and the arts community.
"We are now in the 31st year of the summer arts workshop and every year we strive to enhance the program," said Tanya McCartney, managing director of RBC Finco. "We felt that it was important to have the students visit the National Art Gallery so they could see the work of local artists and be inspired by them."
The RBC Summer Arts Workshop is a testament to RBC's support of the arts and their commitment to the growth and development of arts in The Bahamas. The workshop is the most comprehensive art program for young Bahamian art students. Through its partnership with the Ministry of Education, the RBC Summer Arts Workshop course aligns with the requirements of The Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) and Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) exams.
During the workshop, students are able to work on coursework pieces and readily prepare themselves for these important high school art examinations. In an interactive and creative environment, participants are trained in various art styles and techniques by a cadre of art instructors and local professional artists. The visit to NAGB is a natural complement to the goal of the workshop to help young artists to improve their art techniques and showcase their work.
At the National Art Gallery the students toured the Permanent Gallery Collection and viewed works by several renowned Bahamian artists, some of whom were past coordinators and alumni of the RBC Summer Arts Workshop. The students also viewed the "Amos Ferguson Bahamian Outsider Exhibition" and learned about Ferguson's style, design and technique. Students then participated in a hands-on activity where they were invited to paint using Amos Ferguson's signature style.
Jordia Benjamin, NAGB assistant education officer, expressed her pleasure in hosting the students of the RBC Summer Arts Workshop. She outlined the importance of young art students visiting the National Art Gallery, explaining that, "By visiting NAGB, students gain insight on viewing Bahamian art and become familiar with The Bahamas' master and contemporary artists."
Benjamin encouraged RBC workshop students to visit The National Art Gallery frequently and told them that as Bahamians "they have a responsibility to educate themselves about their culture and keep abreast on what is taking place on the Bahamian art scene".
The 2012 RBC Summer Workshop was held from July 2, 2012 to July 27, 2012 at Government High School. More than 100 students attended this year's workshop. Participants come to the program from schools throughout the islands of The Bahamas. The RBC Summer Arts Workshop culminated on July 27, 2012 with a special closing ceremony and awards presentation at the Mall at Marathon.
For the children, the endless days of summer are to be delighted in and relished. While summertime is here in all its "heated" glory, this may mean freedom and fun in the sun for school-aged children but for the busy parent who now has to find somewhere to send their little "angels" until the dreaded eight-week break is over it's chaos and stress. This year instead of just shipping your kids off to the first convenient summer program it's time to think things through and send them to a camp that will promote more than unhindered fun all day long. The Nassau Guardian Lifestyles section has found some of the hottest camps around town with unusual curriculums that are bound to pique your kids' interests that you'll be delighted to send them off to every day.
The Meridian School's Adventure Camp
The Adventure Camp at The Meridian School in Unicorn Village is a fun camp that will entertain the adventure-loving child between the age of two and 12 from 9 am. to 3 p.m. daily.
Terez Cleare, camp coordinator says children will experience the fun and festivities the camp offers through the different themes to be presented weekly as this summer program is always evolving and providing new activities and themes to hold the attention of the imaginative child on the go.
Your child will learn about all things camping from how to pitch a tent and make a fire. They will go on nature walks and even have a fun camp night adventure in a safe environment during the week themed "camping time."
The ocean will be your child's playground as he learns about the vast body of water, the animals that live in it, sports you can do in it and how it is important to nature. Children will even enjoy a water-filled fun day in the "Oceans and Waterfronts" themed week. Other adventures scheduled for these camp goers include "Culinary Carnival" when they learn about cuisine, "Wacky Olympics" which will allow them to channel their inner athlete and "Hollywood Bound" where they learn about famous people and even get to dress up as their favorite celebrity during their own little red-carpet event.
While the camp focuses on learning by having lots of creative fun, it also heavily focuses on academics and there will be daily classes in English, Math, music, drama, arts and craft, computers and swimming. Character building is also an important aspect of this summer program and each week, the child who shows the most improvement in character or embodies the trait of the week will be selected as the super camper. To register your child call 328-1151/2 or email email@example.com.
When: June 20-July 22
Where: The Meridian School at Unicorn Village
Time: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. daily with after care, 3:15 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Cost: Cost: $50 registration, $150 per week, $10 daily after care
Age: Two to 12 years of age
The Nassau Gym Nastics Camp
For the youngsters that love to tumble and try acrobatic feats, The Nassau Gym Nastics Summer Camp teaches uninitiated kids about the basics of gymnastics alongside more experienced gymnasts in a fun-filled mentored safe environment. For children five and older, the camps that take place at the Oakes Field Shopping Center and Seagrapes Shopping Center locations will teach teamwork, how to tumble and fall safely, improve their coordination, strength, and develop a positive competitive personality.
"We have lots of activities for the kids to participate in such as obstacle courses, games, team activities, tag and other fun things," says Nassau GymNastics head coach Trevor Ramsey. "It is a camp that kids will like who are active and need a place to exert that energy." To register your child call 356-7722 or 364-8423.
When: Monday, June 20 - Saturday, August 20
Where: Nassau Gym Nastics Oakes Field Shopping Centre location and the Seagrapes Shopping Centre location
Time: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. daily
Cost: $70 per week
Age: Starting at age five
For the parent who wants their happy children to have a more academically-focused summer, enrolling their children in the Explorer's Summer Camp at the Cybertech Training Center at #85 Colling Avenue is just what the doctor ordered. This summer program with a 14-year reputation for good results is perfect for the child preparing for the national exams in the coming semester, and those who did poorly in the past school year or for those kids who simply can't get enough of learning.
Camp director Phil Curry says the program helps kids to utilize the summer well so they have a good head start over their peers in the new school year.
"This is a summer camp that focuses on raising your child's academic skills, grades and test scores in showing kids who have low self esteems that they can learn. With more personal guidance and attention we help them to be more self confident especially when they go back to school and can understand what they are learning just as well or better than their peers. We help them to improve reading comprehension and overall just prepare kids to do well in national exams like the Grade Level Assessment Test (GLAT), Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) and Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE). This is the perfect program for parents who want to give their kids a head start for the upcoming school year or for kids who didn't do well in the previous year."
The program focuses on all general subjects for primary school kids, and Math, English, science and computer studies for junior and high school kids. Since fun is needed in the equation, the program does allow daily fun breaks and a weekly field trip including a park picnic, a Seaworld explorer trip and the movies. To register your child call 322-4223.
When: June 27-August 5
Where: Cybertech Training Center on #85 Collins Avenue
Time: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Cost: $65 weekly
Age: Starting at age five
Mario's Bowlopolis Kids Camp
There is nothing like taking a fun family activity that your kids already like and letting them enjoy it all summer long. With this in mind, Mario's Bowling and Entertainment Palace located on the Tonique Williams- Darling Highway presents Bowlopolis Kids Camp, for children ages five to 13. The summer bowling league takes your tiny bowler from a novice to a more experienced player over the course of four fun weeks of fun and excitement. Your kids will have fun as they not only learn to bowl but have access to other sources of entertainment like the skating rink and the arcade. There will also be weekly field trips to different sites to keep the kids mentally stimulated and entertained. To register your child for an unforgettable bowling camp experience call 326-8012.
When: July 4 - July 29
Where: Mario's Bowling and Entertainment Palace
Time: Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Cost: $150 weekly
Age: five to 13 years of age
Discovery Centre Science Exploration Camp
The ultimate summer experience for children seven to 12 years old who have an interest in science is at the Discovery Centre Science Exploration Camp at the Woodlawn Gardens. This camp will take your child on a journey to discover just what makes the world go round. Each week campers will have a special scientific theme that will grab their attention and get them to channel their inner mad scientist.
"They will be able to discover the secrets of dinosaurs and the fossils that many ancient animals left behind one week in 'Digging for Dinosaurs' says Maria Gonzalez, camp organizer. "Then they will delve into rocket science and make a real rocket in another week themed 'Blasting off with Rockets.' They will even learn the science behind extreme weather conditions and what causes global warming. They will be introduced to screws, pulleys, levers and other aspects of machinery and even build their own lego robots during 'Gears, Gizmos and Gadgets.' In other fun themed weekly sessions, campers will discover why things blow up and the science of sound, renewable energy and even the mystery and complexities of everyday electronics."
This camp will not only entertain your child but teach him about teamwork, technology and how science can be fun. It is safe, interactive and something your child is bound to enjoy. To register your junior rocket scientist for this camp call 394-6715.
When: July 4 - Aug 19
Where: Discovery Centre, by Woodlawn Gardens
Time: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Cost: $125 weekly
Age: seven to 12 years of age.
Jump Start Strings Summer Camp
Music is soothing to the soul and it's the perfect way to broaden the horizons of your child this summer. Whether he has played music before or has never touched an instrument, this is a great camp to expose children between the age of eight and 14 to music at the Jump Start Strings Summer Camp at Turton House on Windsor Avenue, off Village Road.
Organizer Joanne Connaughton says this program is unique in that it takes on kids with musical experience as well as those without experience or even instruments and teaches them about music in a fun and interactive way.
"This program is not like other music programs in that it focuses on stringed instruments which is different, unusual and a great opportunity. We are really reaching out to the kids whether they are experienced or not and giving them the means to enter this world with open arms. It will be fun and really jump-start the beginner musician. We will have training in violins, viola, double bass and cello. It will be a great experience."
Singing, drumming and other complimentary activities will also be a part of the program. Fun days to the beach and field trips are also planned to keep your music-loving child entertained. To register your child for this great camp opportunity call 393 6471 or 357 5846.
When: July 4 - July 29
Where: Turton House on Windsor Avenue, off Village Road
Time: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: $400 for camp, $100 instrument rental, $50 registration.
Age: eight to 14 years of age
Creative Wealth Training's Camp Millionaire
In this capitalistic world letting your kids learn about the value of money and finances early is a major asset to you and them in the future. With this in mind, Creative Wealth Training will host Camp Millionaire, a five-day interactive summer camp for kids aged five and older at the Culinary Hospitality Management Institute at The College of The Bahamas to teach your children in a fun way about money and investing.
"In our world today you could never learn about the value of money too early," says Keysville Kerr, camp director. "In today's world a lot of us wish we had learnt about money earlier instead of making the mistakes we have. This doesn't have to happen to the next generation if we take the time to teach them now. The summer program is geared toward showing kids what money is, what it does, how to earn it, spend it and invest it. We break down how much their parents spend to raise them so they are appreciative of what a dollar can buy, what smart shopping habits are, what investing is and how to save and manage money. We do all of this is in a fun way that won't overwhelm the kids by using games, contests and other activities so they are entertained and are learning."
The camp has special field trips planned to banks and other businesses so kids not only hear but see all the concepts they learn in action. The program is available for two sessions so kids who miss the first one in July (18-22) can catch it again in August (8-12). For those who cannot make the full-five day program they can attend one of the compacted one-day sessions that will be held just before school opens from August 22 to 26. To register your child call 676-3626.
When: July 18 - 22 and Aug 8 - 12
Where: Culinary Hospitality Management Institute at The College of The Bahamas
Time: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Age: starting at age five.
Bahamas Summer Music Camp & Mentoring Program
The Bahamas Summer Music Camp and Mentoring Program is unique in that it is being offered to preteens and young adults between the ages of 12 and 21. This year's camp themed "The Rhythms of Africa" is perfect for the typical Bahamian youth as it is geared towards young drummers who participate in Junior Junkanoo. The drumming sessions will take the students on a musical journey from Nigeria to Ghana, through the Ivory Coast and North Africa, across the Atlantic to Brasil, Cuba, New Orleans, Jamaica, Trinidad, and culminating in the Bahamas - rhythms of Africa is a musical odyssey.
The camp covers a broad spectrum or musical disciplines including instruction on various instruments; vocal coaching, music theory, understanding music harmony, taking jazz ensemble direction and career workshops to prepare students for the professional world of the music business including management, marketing, booking, recording process, packaging, and the record label versus the independent label.
Improvisation workshops will help build confidence and character as the students rise to new heights with student jam sessions and group performances. All participants should have experience with instruments. To register your child for this musical experience call 328-8361.
When: Monday, July 25 - Friday, August 5
Age: 12 to 21 years of age
Camperdown Riding Club's Horseback Riding Camp
Camperdown Riding Club located at Camperdown Stables, presents its Horseback Riding Camp, through July 22, for kids aged six and older with daily riding lessons, lessons in horse care, bathing and grooming, games, swimming with horses and weekly trips to the beach. To register your child for this horsy adventure call 324-2065.
When: June 20 - July 22
Where: Camperdown Stables
Time: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Cost: $185 per week, $50 deposit
Age: starting at age six
Dance Bahamas School's Summer Dance Camp
If your child is a little dancer then Dance Bahamas' Summer Dance Camp, at the Base Road Business Centre will be their cup of tea. There will be lessons in ballet, ethnic, hip-hop, gymnastics, flexibility and conditioning. To register your child call 328-7588.
When: July 4 - July 29
Where: Dance Bahamas School, Base Road Business Centre
Cost: $350 and $40 registration
Mikell Butler has dreams. She wants to become an oncologist and is taking steps to ensure that her dreams come true in her first year studying bio-chemistry at The College of the Bahamas (COB), with plans to move on to study medicine at the University of the West Indies in August. She has the money needed for her studies, with an $80,000 government scholarship to be disbursed over four years at the college of her choice.
With lofty goals, the 18-year-old says knowing her limits and realizing when it is time to step back and stop worrying is a lesson she has learned, and will put into practice as she continues on the second phase of her academic life. The 2011 C.V. Bethel High School graduate says stressing over grades is not the way to go if one wants to succeed academically. There are people who would disagree with her, after all, she graduated high school with a 3.67 grade point average. She also had the best Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) results, seven A grades in Math, History, Combined Science, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Language, and two B grades for Spanish and Literature. She was also her school's valedictorian.
With all of her accomplishments, people would think she always had her head in her books and studied non-stop to accomplish what she did but she says quite to the contrary.
"When it comes to studying and preparing for exams you have to understand that they are only tests. They may greatly assist you later in life, but they don't determine who you are or what you can do. Success comes in many ways and it is easy to fall short of your full potential by overtaxing yourself and not just living," says Butler.
She believes that many academically gifted young people are too competitive and absorbed in their own worlds so much so that they let life pass them by, and don't take time to see that there are others out there that could use a hand.
Besides obtaining her medical degree, she wants to create a program for high school students that would not only provide tutoring services for people that need it, but also incorporate professional people mentoring students.
"To me, the true test of one's mastery of a subject is when he can teach what he knows to his peers. This is why I really want to create a program where students help students, but they are also introduced to the 'real world' by having mentors in the fields they want to get into. It would do some good to really get a good idea about the field of work you want to get into and really understand if you like it before you spend years in school studying it. I want to do something that can really positively impact students because so many of us are disserviced and have no real path to follow once we finish school."
The over achiever says her desire to work with high school students arose from her own experiences and desires that things could have been different for her during her high school years. While she was able to assist other students and get help as well, she says it was in a very limited way. When it came time to decide on a career path, she had already chosen medicine, but says there was nothing in place for her to be mentored by professionals in the field, so that she could know specifically which specialization she was interested in. This is something that she hopes will not have to happen to future students.
"I know there is a guidance counselling department in most schools, but I do not feel they often do enough to prepare students for their future. They do a great job bringing in persons from the community from different careers of course, but this is also very limited and not all careers of interest are represented. Many times students enjoy what they see but there is no way to keep in contact with these guest speakers, which is frustrating to students. Furthermore, finding a job after spending years in school is hard sometimes and it helps if you already know someone in the field and they can guide you. So I am really looking forward to getting this program off the ground in another year or two."
In the meantime, Butler encourages students to work with what they have and work hard to make their own way in the professional world. She says finding support wherever you can is just as important. For her it was her family, community and friends that were the driving force behind her success to date.
"While tutoring and mentoring are important, other elements like familial support and community involvement are also important to a student's success. My reasons for pushing the mentoring program is because so many students don't have the home support, drive or means to explore the field of work they wish to enter themselves. Because of this they need a push. But even so I think the best push of it all is when the family and community is involved."
The student said her parents, Michael and Gayle Butler, ensured they were there for her for, whether she was receiving a certificate or a trophy. She said they made sure they never missed anything that she was honored at.
She also encourages parents to be more active in their children's academic life because she believes the best tutor of all is found at home. In primary school and junior school she remembers her mom really pushing her and helping with her school work. By the time Mikell got to high school she was responsible for her studies, but she said she had the right foundation to excel on her own. She recognizes that no matter how many outside tutors she had, if she didn't have support at home she may not have achieved as she did academically.
"Although I am sure my mentoring program will be successful in many ways it will not be as useful if students don't have a foundation to build on. They can have lofty dreams but if there is no work ethic or people who are proud of them, many students tend not to care. This is why I believe the best tutors or mentors are first and foremost a student's parents and community. If they have support in the places closest to them they can use the support they find elsewhere like at school a lot better."
The COB student said it is also important for students to be proactive and discover their strengths and weaknesses early in their academic careers. This way she said they know what they are good at and what they need help with. She said they will also be able to find methods that work for them when it comes to studying. She added that students need to realize that what works for one person may not work for another, and that they should not keep trying to compare themselves to other people. Not being realistic about their abilities, and burning themselves out due to stress, she believes causes many capable students to fall short academically.
If she was able to speak to her peers, she said she would advise them to pace themselves and stop worrying about achieving perfection. For students on the other side of the spectrum, who just don't believe in themselves academically, she advised them to challenge themselves and seek the help they need to succeed.
"It's all about knowing yourself. I don't think many students are conscious of their actual capabilities. Some overshoot and others underestimate. I think spending time calculating what you will need to do per class, and how much time you have to give to each subject realistically in order to succeed, is something students need to do. It's better to succeed at the eight subjects you know you can do well in and have the time to study, for than to push for 10 subjects knowing that you need more time to prepare for them than you have, and as a result do a mediocre job across the board. On the other hand, some students don't test themselves and will settle for the bare minimum. These students need a challenge and should push themselves a bit harder. But like I said you have to know what you can do and work accordingly."
Even when succeeding academically and being on the right course for future success, the young lady said it is also important for students to be involved in their communities and do things just because they want to. She said finding a balance in life with academics and extracurricular activities are key in a person's holistic success.
"As a person your life will not always be about studying, so you have to get used to interacting and networking with other people. You cannot be a completely balanced or well-rounded person if academics are the only things you care about."
During high school, Mikell was involved in numerous activities, from science clubs to the Governor General Youth Award program and Junior Achievers. She said she had a lot of things she needed to study, but always made to time for life.
As she begins her journey to make her dream of becoming a doctor reality, Mikell advised her peers to continue to work hard, but to not over-stress themselves about examinations, and to always make time for fun activities, if not just for their college resumes then at least for themselves. Doing well she said is always a plus, but taking the time to appreciate life and make lifelong friends along the way is invaluable.
The final school bell has tolled for all school aged kids whether they are in the public or private sector and it's time to "veg out" -- or at least that's what many students may think. The seemingly endless days of summer may finally be officially here but educators at all levels of education say while it is good for students to enjoy their break it does not mean that all they learnt during the school year should just go out the window.
Educators say summer break is the best time to catch up on leisurely reading that students didn't get to engage in due to school work, the perfect opportunity to review old assignments they may have struggled with and have the time to better understand where they went wrong and research topics they are likely to encounter in the upcoming academic year. Simply put -- summer break they say has more potential than just being the season of endless beach days or becoming a "couch potato" in front of the television. They say it is the perfect opportunity to assist your child in becoming a well prepared student who will lead the pack in the next school year.
PRIMARY SCHOOL AGED CHILDREN
Kristan Burrows, a first grader teacher at Claridge Primary School, says the worse thing a parent can do during the summer break is to relax all sense of discipline or academic rigidity so their kids can have unhindered fun.
"Kids need a break and they should enjoy themselves during the break I agre, but please do not let them have so much fun that academics and all they learnt through the school year goes down the drain," says the educator. Kids, especially those in primary school who are still forming their academic foundation, need an extra push so they stay fresh and the information they have learnt is retained and applied. So putting them in a summer school that has some focus on Math and English is important."
Burrows says it is amazing how much primary school-aged children will remember if they do simple assignments on a regular basis throughout the break. My school [Claridge Primary School] has a special book that we advise parents to buy for their kids for the summer called Summer Fit. It allows the students at every grade level to review subjects covered in the previous year and explore new ones that they will have in the coming year. They have little assignments to do after each topic and it's fun. Just finishing a book like that can do wonders just to keep kids on the go mentally throughout the summer."
She also suggests parents encourage their young children to enjoy learning by letting them choose a book they want and letting them read it aloud. Instead of watching television aimlessly all day she says you should ensure they watch some educational programs and that you question them about what they learn and like or didn't like about it. If they are older kids, she says they can do book reports or reviews to ensure they are comprehending what they read and watch. And rather than letting them play games on the latest video game console, Burrows urges parents to get their children to use the internet to play interactive educational games. She says this will not only entertain and educate the children but will also assist in improving their computer literacy as well.
"There is so much that parents can do to ensure their kids do well academically. As teachers we cannot do everything. We need support and we need parents to be behind their children even more than we are so what we teach is consistent in the home and retained as well. It's pointless to work all semester with the kids and they do well, only for summer to come and their foundation falls apart because they have no support or do not build on it. [Children] not being up to par academically during the summer often means teachers have to back track a whole lot more than they should be doing to reteach a concept kids should already know when September comes around again. This can be avoided if parents chip in."
JUNIOR SCHOOL AGED CHILDREN
C.H. Reeves Junior School Language and Literature teacher Hallnika Bodie is also of the view that students should not fully neglect their studies just because it's summer break, but to use the weeks off school to improve academically and socially.
"[Parents] can make it easier on them by keeping them in a routine much like they had during the year. Especially at this stage, grades seven through nine, students are preparing to take the Bahamas Junior Certificate [BJC] and they will need to be focused in order to do well," says Bodie.
She says summer break is the perfect time for parents to go to the Ministry of Education's Testing and Evaluation Center on Harrold Road to get copies of older exams so students can do them as a means of studying and preparation. Ensuring they go through their old notes especially for Math and English throughout the break for a few hours she says a day is a good way to keep them on their toes especially in the last few weeks leading up to school reopening.
The Language and Literature teacher also says allowing your children to keep a journal of their experiences helps build their writing skills immensely.
Bodie is also big on allowing children to get a lot of rest during the summer months after a hectic school year. She says allowing them to stay up late is okay a few times a week, but to always ensure that they get to bed at a reasonable hour so that they can be physically and mentally rested during the break as well. She says students who are allowed to do whatever they want, and don't get enough sleep regularly tend to be unproductive and still drained by the time school reopens.
The educator says to help your child develop more socially don't just send them to any old camp, but enroll them in camps where they can participate in character-building summer programs like Vacation Bible camps, police camp, maritime camp and rangers summer camps which allows them to be team members, but to study skills and learn responsibility.
Bodie urges parents to use the summer break to get to know their children as well and expose them to life experiences.
"It's not just about getting back on track with school but reforming your relationship as well," says the educator. "Doing things like going to dinner, to the zoo, to a Family Island, a museum, visiting national sites or whatever else you can find fun to do together is a good thing to do because it makes them more worldly. This means when students go on field trips and meet new people during the school year they are adjusted and know how to react, they aren't out of their element and they can appreciate what they see more. They will have fun, experience different aspects of society and learn at the same time. These experiences are good for children to have and it makes the summer vacation a little more interesting."
HIGH SCHOOL AGED CHILDREN
The key to an academically successful, well-adjusted high school student depends heavily on what is done at home during the long breaks away from the classroom says automechanics teacher Michael Clarke. He says it is important not to let your high-school aged child get lax in 5his studies and discipline and that keeping a level-head and a focus on academics even during the summer months is the best way to ensure your child excels in the next school year.
"First and foremost, parents need to be more vigilant and aware of what their kids are doing. Yes, it is the summer break, but kids still need to have guidance. Don't let them get too relaxed or assume they are doing what they should. Ensure they do make time to study twice a week or more so they stay fresh-minded. They need a break from the structured classroom setting but that doesn't mean learning stops. Ensure they are doing something academically and test them to make sure they are remembering what they learn. Parents need to draw the line and know that their children can have fun, but they still have to remember that they will have to face another school year and it is best to be prepared."
The eight-year automechanics teacher stresses that summer is a perfect time for parents to form a better relationship with their child's teachers as well. He says it would be a good idea to find out which teacher will be in charge of their child's class in the coming year and contact him/her to find out what he/she would advise as good summer reading in preparation for different classes.
If this is not an option, he says parents should then find out early from the school administration which books are required for their child's upcoming school year so they can be purchased as this gives your child time to read through his textbooks and familiarize himself with different concepts he will encounter in the next semester.
For children that have already selected class options, the teacher says it is a good idea to get books other than the required texts for him to read through so he has a wider understanding of the subject. He says fictional works that incorporate academic subjects are often entertaining and keep the mind fresh and creatively churning.
If your child is preparing for the Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) examinations, Clarke says he should be using the break to study and do research on the topics, so putting their coursework together and preparing to take the exam is easier once the term begins.
"School does not have to be hard or a chore if your child learns
to love learning. As a parent it is just as important for you to find ways to get your child to want to learn even at home on breaks. Find ways for this passion to be incorporated in their lives. Take them to libraries and let them stay there to study for a while so they aren't home alone. They may not study, but they may just read a book that interests them. It's still reading and it can help to at least keep them engaged academically to some level. Go places with them instead of dumping them off to one place or the other since school is closed. Since these are older kids let them get a job in a field they like for the sake of experience instead of allowing them to just stay at home. They will get a taste of the real world and learn some responsibility as well. At the end of the day, just let your child experience more and use the summer break productively. It has a lot of potential and parents can help their children make the best of it with their support and guidance."
"Don't let anyone persuade you against something you believe in your writing." - Telcine Turner Rolle
This past week saw the loss of a great Bahamian cultural icon as poet, playwright and teacher Telcine Turner Rolle succumbed to illness. She was 67.
Of Cat Island heritage, Telcine Turner was born December 3, 1944 on Milton Street and grew up in the "Babylon" vicinity of the Market Street area.
Telcine's contribution to The Bahamas is immeasurable.
Following a life-changing period of studies in English and education at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, in the 1970s, she taught in several Bahamian high schools before taking up a post in English language and literature at the Bahamas Teachers Training College.
She married James O. Rolle in 1974 and in 1975 birthed her only child, Arien Rolle. Being an artist and cultural pioneer in his own right, James Rolle was Telcine's soul mate and best friend. They could often be seen taking in the latest cultural offerings, always in good spirits.
In 1976, she joined the staff of The College of The Bahamas in its infancy in the division of humanities, which she would eventually chair. Admired as much as she was feared, Telcine was instrumental in molding the sensibilities of many talented Bahamian writers today as an educator. Many would be surprised to hear which now-established and great Bahamian writers she had once given mediocre or even failing grades to. Yet this only served to push their talent to the limits - for Telcine, there was always room for improvement, an opportunity to set the bar one notch higher.
Telcine defined an era in Bahamian literature, publishing a book of poems for children, "Song of the Surreys" (illustrated by her husband); and editing two collections of work from students in her creative writing classes, "Once Below a Time" and "Climbing Clouds". Since 2009, she had been working on a third collection of student work, "Jah Knows! and Other One-Act plays by College of The Bahamas Students", which is still forthcoming.
Her most well known-work, "Woman Take Two" is a vital component of the foundation of Bahamian literature. The play marked a discernable focus in early post-colonial years on all things Bahamian with its three-dimensional Bahamian characters negotiating their identities. It is still used in the English Literature BGCSE today.
Telcine was also vey active in theater in The Bahamas, becoming part of the Bahama Drama Circle in the 1970s and helping to stage several summer productions at the theater auditorium of the Bahamas Teachers Training College, as well as receiving dramatic awards from The Bahamas Arts Festival.
After winning the Playwriting Prize in the University of West Indies 25th Anniversary Literary Competition in 1975 for "Woman Take Two", it took years until the play would hit the stage under the directorial eye of David Burrows in 1995 - partly because Telcine brought the same uncompromising standards to her creative work as she did in the classroom.
In fact, Telcine took these standards to every person she came across in her life - she was known to offer her constructive criticisms where she felt they were necessary, and those who knew her knew they'd be better off if they took it with thanks.
Though this quality often evoked backlash in those who were unfamiliar with her perfectionist ways, Telcine's standards were born out of love and a desire to see her beloved country improve and grow.
In everything she did, Telcine exuded the same excellence she demanded from others as she molded every person she touched into better Bahamian citizens. We owe it to her to set our standards higher and to meet them.
This Land I Celebrate
Telcine Turner Rolle
This land I celebrate not for its zeal
Of democratic rights, its affluent
New halls of residence, its confident
And forced-ripe millionaires, but for the feel
That people power can make paradise real.
We are not free when we turn reticent
because of fear, think man omnipotent
Instead of God and for the dollar kneel.
I see our people common as the sand
And just as precious - holding back the flood
When tide is high; encircling the land;
Together valorous, together good.
Although the fingers differ on a hand
Each helps the hand to function as it should.
It was important that Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham took time to greet 12-year-old Anna Albury outside of the House of Assembly on Monday. The girl, who is blind, was recently crowned Primary School Student of the Year over 115 candidates from around the country.
"I am like just any other child. I do not look at myself as having a disability. I just happen to be blind," said the sixth grader from Hope Town School on receiving the award.
Fully blind from birth, Anna could have been placed in the School for the Blind, but her parents Theresa and Lambert Albury insisted that she be raised normally with other children. They wanted her to do well.
With their encouragement and the support of her teachers and classmates, Anna has maintained an outstanding 3.8 cumulative grade point average.
Here in New Providence in our public school system many children with two working eyes, two working ears, two working legs and two working arms are not doing nearly as well as Anna. And they benefit from a free education through grade 12.
The national D average in the Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) exams masks the tremendous lack of achievement in our public school system. If the private schools are taken out of that calculation, our public school system would be in the F average range. No nation can be great with that level of underachievement.
Many blame the government of the day and the education bureaucracy for not doing more to reform the public education system. Certainly, there is more that can be done on the policy and funding sides of the equation to reform our system. However, a major part of the education problem in this country is our culture. Governments and civil servants cannot make Bahamian parents and guardians care about education.
Too many parents do not demand enough from their children. Too many Bahamians simply do not value the free education that is offered.
Concerned parents, relatives and guardians are crucial catalysts to success when it comes to educational achievement. When families care about education and hold children to standards, those children do better. When families only care about proms and making sure children are dressed in the trendiest clothes at the beginning of the school year, those children do not do as well.
Our culture has assumed too much of the foolish commercial nonsense from the two cultural centers we are between - the United States and Jamaica. Knowledge of the latest rap or dancehall song is high, while the literacy and numeracy levels are low in The Bahamas.
We must do better.
Education is not merely about being prepared for the job market. It is about being a reasoned human being able to understand and function independently in the community you live in. It is also about being able to participate in the development and governance of that society in many different ways.
Too many Bahamians are too comfortable being uneducated. Too many Bahamians are too comfortable raising uneducated children. This must change.
What is especially problematic about this situation is that the free education system through grade 12 was something that was fought for.
The first black government of The Bahamas in 1967 had as its mandate ensuring that all Bahamians had access to education. In the ensuing decades schools were built across the country. Now, 44 years later, many of the parents and children who are the heirs to that movement show little interest in knowledge, learning and achievement.
Ignorant people are always ruled by smarter people. A people cannot be independent if they are dumb.
Bahamians must stop making excuses when it comes to learning and achievement. Yes, education reform is needed. But what is equally needed is concern about learning and knowledge by our people. A father who is not smart should, and can, have as a goal ensuring that his children do better than he did.
He can ensure that his children behave in school and do the work assigned; he can participate in the school's Parent Teacher Association; he can seek tutoring for his children to ensure they have the technical assistance he cannot provide.
Anna Albury, a blind girl from a small school in the Family Islands, is doing well. She is inspirational. Born with a disadvantage, she still excels.
Mothers, fathers, relatives and guardians across The Bahamas must do more to ensure that their well-bodied children do better and take advantage of the opportunities given to them. We must care more about education and learning to ensure that we, Bahamians, have the capacity to govern ourselves and to command every sector of our economy.