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The Ministry of Education will be relocating students at several schools on Family Islands impacted by Hurricane Irene in order to ensure they are able to attend classes when the school year begins on Monday. However, students who attend Arthur's Town High School and Orange Creek Primary School on Cat island, will not begin classes until September 12, according to Director of Education Lionel Sands.
He said students who attend Colonel Hill High School on Crooked Island and Snug Corner Primary School on Acklins, will be relocated due to extensive damage sustained to those facilities last week.
Sands explained that schools on Cat Island were not that badly impacted by Irene. He added that the hurricane interrupted summer repairs, which will be completed next week. The ministry is also working to repair schools on Mayaguana which were damaged during Irene.
"We do have some challenges at these schools because of the storm (but the Bahamas Electricity Corporation) is doing what is necessary to make repairs to restore electricity," said Sands.
The week of classes the students on Cat Island will miss will be made up during the course of the new school year, according to Sands. He added that days missed from school, under these circumstances, will be made up by extending some school days or conducting classes on weekends. "There are a number of ways we can make up lost school time but it will require the loss of some leisure time," indicated Sands. "I would prefer a combination of both, extra hours in the school day and classes over the weekend, so as to help alleviate the interruption in the schools."
Sands commented that the principals and teachers on Cat Island have been supportive about using their personal time to help students make up for lost school days.
"We have always had the support of teachers and principals, because they know how important it is for the students not to lose any [learning] time," said Sands.
Minister of Education Desmond Bannister yesterday appealed to parents, guardians and the general public to cooperate with school administrators as they work diligently to prepare for the return of students after the passing of Hurricane Irene.
Sands added that students who attend the Inagua All-Age School, which was severely damaged by a fire in late June, will also be relocated while the rebuilding effort takes place. Classes for those students are also expected to start on Monday.
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama - With some $315,000 being spent on repairs to schools in Grand Bahama, Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald said yesterday that he is elated at the progress of the projects.
Fitzgerald commended Minister for Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville and Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe, who both, he said, have taken on the responsibility to oversee the project.
He noted that this is the first time that early repairs are being carried out at local schools and it is, "something that Grand Bahama should get accustomed to."
Minister Fitzgerald added that students and teachers should also look forward to reform in the educational system, noting that an "announcement" is on the way.
Fitzgerald disclosed that he has been in discussions with the relevant stakeholders, and programs will be approved and implemented that will significantly improve the delivery of education in Grand Bahama.
"We are moving forward in regard to the leadership in Grand Bahama so that the island will have a little bit more autonomy," said Fitzgerald.
Darville, who was among a delegation on a tour of Grand Bahama schools with the education minister, noted that he too was pleased with the level of work being carried out by the contractors.
He revealed that some $315,000 is being spent on repairs to schools in Grand Bahama.
"With the work already in progress we are finding other structural issues with some of the schools," said Darville, who noted that the overseer of the project is scheduled to be in Grand Bahama sometime next week.
He added that following further discussion with him, the next step in terms of tackling the new findings will be decided.
Fitzgerald toured several schools on Thursday, including Walter Parker Primary, Bartlett Hill Primary, Holmes Rock Primary, Hugh Campbell Primary and St. Georges High. He also attended a meeting with parents of the Jack Hayward High School yesterday evening.
The minister's tour continues today with visits to schools on the eastern end of the island.
The student population at St. John's College and L.W. Young Junior High School are richer for the civic efforts of Bahamas Ferries through the organization's "Discover Your Bahamas Student Educational Program" which donated computers to both institutions.
Bahamas Ferries donated computers to St. John's College and L.W. Young Jr. Schools, after students from both schools participated in the Bahamas Ferries "Discover Your Bahamas Student Educational Program". The donation was made recently during a reception on board the M/V Seawind.
St. John's College won the primary division and the school received two desktop computers and two color printers. This was the second consecutive year that St. John's College won in the Primary Division.
After the win St. John's senior mistress, Nyoka Bethel says Bahamas Ferries is like home for the students at St. John's, having traveled with the company on field trips to Eleuthera, Abaco and Andros, which she says has been a learning experience for students.
L. W. Young Jr. High School won the high school division and the school received three laptops and a desktop computer.
Schools must select sporting equipment, musical instruments or computers that will benefit the entire student body.
Bahamas Ferries' "Discover Your Bahamas Student Educational Program" was started in 2000. The educational field trips are designed to showcase the unique environment, history and culture of Abaco, Andros and Eleuthera. Since the program was rebranded in 2004, Bahamas Ferries has donated more than $50,000 to schools and in the past three years, taken over 14,000 students, teachers and parents on educational field trips to the Family Islands.
The educational field trips provides the practical application to what is being taught in the classroom thereby bringing text book to life as students have the opportunity to explore wetlands, visit a pineapple farm or study the nesting habits of the Abaco parrot. The day-away and overnight field trips have been developed based on the government and private schools' curriculum and schools have the option of customizing the itinerary to satisfy their specific field of study. Bahamas Ferries "Discover Your Bahamas Student Educational Program" is suitable for kindergarten to university students.
More than 200 police officers were permanently assigned to government senior and junior high schools in New Providence, Grand Bahama and Abaco yesterday, as part of the relaunched school-based policing program, according to officer in charge, Assistant Commissioner Leon Bethell.
Dozens of police officers have been assigned as liaison officers for public schools. According to Director of the National Crime Prevention Office Superintendent Stephen Dean, those officers will only be assigned to junior and senior high schools and will begin their work as liaison officers when the new school year starts on Monday.
Four Bahamian students are making waves -- but it's not in academics or sports. The four students of Anatol Rodgers High School are instead making waves in the tourism and hospitality industry.
Brandon Brooks, Delnika Stuart, Christoff Hall and Lakeyia Adderley, four persons that took tourism and hospitality studies at Anatol Rodgers High School, traveled to Orlando, Florida for the eighth annual American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) National Lodging Management Program (LMP) Competition at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort where they were challenged to the real-life work experience in a hotel. The teams of students displayed their proficiency in three contests:
Hotel operations: Students applied their knowledge in a three-part challenge -- room inspections in which students has 10 minutes to find housekeeping cleaning errors in a typical guest room using an executive housekeeping checklist; night audit, in which teams performed financial calculations and manually posted front desk accounting information and case studies in food and beverage and sales and marketing in which students had 15 minutes to prepare solutions to case study scenarios.
The hospitality project: Teams demonstrated their knowledge, skills and abilities in event planning. They were given a scenario that included budget parameters, invitation design, banquet event order, menu and floor plan.
The knowledge bowl: Teams demonstrated their knowledge through a multi-round, question and answer Jeopardy-style quiz.
In all, 12 teams representing schools in Arkansas, The Bahamas, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Washington, DC. and Wyoming participated in the LMP national educational program for high school juniors and seniors. When the final guest room had been checked for housekeeping errors, The Bahamian foursome placed seventh out of the 12 schools that participated. High school hospitality students from Okkodo High School in Guam took home the national title. Second place went to Lakeland High School (Idaho) with students from Mountain View Academy (New Hampshire) taking third spot.
The Bahamian team may not have won, but 17-year-old Lakeyia Adderley says what she liked most about the competition was the creative activities like the knowledge bowl, hospitality project, Jeopardy-style question and answer session and the room inspection.
"We may not have won, but it was great for us as a learning experience," said the tourism and hospitality studies student. "It was also a great chance to promote The Bahamas because there were kids at the competition that didn't even know about our country. I think it is great that we went and represented and saw just what is out there that can make us better in this field in the long run."
The twelfth grade student said, "I am really determined to be a part of this industry now, and I think I am more ready than ever."
Christoff Hall, 17, says prior to the competition he thought he had learnt a lot from the hospitality program, but realizes after the international competition that he's learnt even more.
"It felt good going to the competition especially since you had to be chosen out a lot of students who were really good in the program. We did a lot of fun things and it was amazing," said Hall, who is headboy at Anatol Rodgers school. "What I learnt the most from the new program itself is something I probably would've taken longer to learn had I done it any other way. For instance, although we are a nation dependent on tourism I didn't know much about it. I figured if I did the program I would learn more and see if this is a field I would like to enter and I did. I am now interested in being an executive manager in the tourism field."
Brandon Brooks has no regrets about joining the hospitality and management program, and participating in the international competition. The 17-year-old says the competition was one of the best things he has experienced.
"The program is about the world of tourism and what we can realistically expect should we enter the field. We learned so much in terms of etiquette, professionalism, customer care and management that really prepared us for the field. We went to different hotels and got first-hand experience and saw just how all the levels of the hotel staff operate. My eyes were really opened to the fact that the industry isn't confined to just hotels and restaurants. It is in almost every aspect of our society in which a service and personal interaction is involved. I learnt more than just theory. I got to go out there, meet people and do the work. It was great," said Brooks.
For graduating senior Delnika Stuart, 17, the competition "put the icing on the cake" for her as the program ended. Her biggest regret is that she did not take the program as seriously as she should have when she started out.
She says she now realizes that had she applied herself more and taken full advantage of the opportunities given to her from the start, she wouldn't have been challenged for the top student in the program. But what she has realized now that the program has ended for her as she leaves high school behind is that she is passionate about being a pastry chef and an entrepreneur. She hopes to use the techniques she learnt throughout the course and in the competition to build her own business in the future.
Anatol Rodgers' tourism studies teacher Janelle Cambridge, who traveled with the team to the competition, was proud of the students' accomplishments and hopes to see an increase in the number of Bahamian schools participating in the NLMP competition.
"I think the students did very well as this was their first time in the competition. I hope we go back and place in the top three next time."
She said for her it's not only about being able to go to the competition, but to see how much the students learn and experience. She realizes this will put them ahead of so many others because of the hospitality and management program that's the Ministry of Education initiative. In 2009, the Ministry of Education partnered with the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLE) to certify Bahamian hospitality teachers as instructors to teach the three curriculum. Since the certification, Anatol Rodgers High School is the only school to offer the hospitality and tourism studies as a full program.
"I believe that this program is better than the traditional tourism education or culinary arts programs in high schools now, because it allows students to do more programs than just BahamaHost which is essential in helping students learn interpersonal and problem solving skills and how to deal with customers," says Cambridge. "Students learn so much it is amazing. I do not know if the students would've done so well in the competition had they not been participants in this program and the depth it goes into."
She also said it is important to expose the students to competitions like the AHLEI competition to remind them that there are other countries out there with a tourism product, and as the future of the industry they need to keep on top of everything that is out there.
Cambridge says many people say tourism today is nothing like it was in the days of yesteryear when programs like BahamaHost were successful and entering the industry was an honorable profession and not just another job.
She says most people have had an experience where they didn't get the kind of service they thought they should have at a tourism-based establishment and often wonder just what went wrong in the training of the staff they met. Cambridge says implementing programs like tourism and hospitality studies (for) students while they are young and more pliable to set the right foundation is the best way to improve the quality of this vital industry.
She hopes more schools establish the whole program as a normal curriculum in the future because she has found great success and sees the potential it will have for the other students who may be interested in the field. In the first year, students interested in the program can expect to participate in the Junior Hotelier Program, a 10-week curriculum that allows students to explore the possibilities in careers in hospitality and meet industry professionals to learn firsthand about the industry.
Cambridge says this method is better than just reading about what is out there and having a guest speaker come in for one or two classes because it ends up being more engaging and important questions can be answered on the spot.
Students also participate in CaribCert, a regional certification program from the Caribbean Hotel Association that gets students to fully understand the core essentials of tourism industry including sustainable tourism, professionalism, health and safety, customer service and other things.
Senior students in the program will have completed the 320 hours in the full program inclusive of the 120-hour internship necessary to be certified in different tourism disciplines of their choosing such as rooms division specialists, food and beverage server, sales and marketing, maintenance employee and front desk employee.
For 32 years, Junior Achievement (JA) has been the pioneers of training the country's youth in the area of business in The Bahama, and has impacted the lives of approximately 42,000 high school Bahamians. Now it aims to broaden its scope. JA Bahamas plans to expands its program to include two new initiatives at the junior and primary school levels.
"Our focus in the past has been primarily on students in grades 10 through 12 at various institution. We have examined our efforts and conclude that a more expansive outreach is required, given the current need in a global ever-changing environment," said Raymond Winder, chairman of the board of directors of JA Bahamas. The program is being expanded in an effort to equip young Bahamians with skills that will significantly impact their individual contributions as responsible citizens of the world. The two new programs will come on stream on Monday, January 30.
The programs are seven-week, modular-based interactive programs that will be executed by volunteers and teachers. With the assistance of the JA alumni community, the government's Volunteer Bahamas program and the commitment of teachers at participating schools, Winder said JA has been able to secure the participation of skilled and responsible Bahamians to execute the initiatives.
Currently there are 400 students registered at the elementary level where financial literacy, citizenship, work readiness and the values of entrepreneurship are shared. The principles are executed through activity-based, interactive role playing, where the children are encouraged to compare skills among themselves with their families, communities and nationally.
Participating elementary schools include Thelma Gibson Primary, St. Thomas More Catholic School, St. Bede's Catholic School, Xavier's Lower School, Our Lady's Catholic School, Woodcock Primary School, Trinity Christian Schools, Yellow Elder Primary, Mable Walker Primary, Gerald Cash Primary, Garvin Tynes Primary, St. Anne's School and Columbus Primary School.
At the junior school level, Winder says JA envisions that achievers will participate in two modules that will focus on the basics of economics for success and business ethics. He further envisions that the principles learned may be applied in their personal lives and the development of a professional career.
"The JA Business Ethics program will be the most important of the sessions to be offered at the junior school level. We have deemed this to be our flagship program for youth 12 to 14 years of age. Currently there are 1,189 students registered in the program."
He said that scandals in the business community have eroded public confidence, and that JA Business Ethics program is designed to foster ethical decision-making in the students as they prepare to enter the workforce.
"Students learn to recognize, analyze and apply basic terminology, theories and concepts common to the study of ethics. They explore their own ethical values and philosophy, establish ethical priorities, recognize key ethical issues, and learn to evaluate their decision-making processes. We believe that a focus on ethics is the foundation to molding the citizens of the new Bahamas," he noted.
Junior schools participating include T.A. Thompson, L.W. Young, Kingsway Academy, Christian Heritage School, Zion Christian School, C.H. Reeves, S.C. McPherson, D.W. Davis, H.O. Nash, Anatol Rodgers, St. John's College, Queen's College, Jordan Prince Williams The Baptist School and Charles Saunders Baptist School.
Winder said JA Bahamas intends to expand further into the Family Islands with the new program, and also has a plan to provide a specialized session for ninth-grade students on global market business venturing. The projected annual impact is estimated to be 7,000 participants with the commitment of all junior schools on New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco and Long Island alone.
He also said that all programs will be executed with set curricula as provided by JA Worldwide's department of curriculum and education. Teachers and volunteers will undergo training with JA's training staff in The Bahamas. A special training session will be facilitated via the Internet by JA Worldwide's staff in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
There are some who argue that high school sports in The Bahamas, particularly here in New Providence, lost some of its competitive nature and some of its luster since the teacher's strike of 1986, but few can deny that it has played an integral part of the sustained development of the youth of this country.
That year saw the separation of the public and private school sporting programs into two separate bodies, ceasing the frequent matches and rivalries between the two entities here in New Providence. Be that as it may, interest certainly didn't fall off.
High school sports here in The Bahamas have produced Olympic and World Champions, such as Tonique Williams-Darling, who got her start athletically at St. John's College on Bethel Avenue.
Currently, the sporting curriculum includes team sports such as basketball, volleyball and soccer in the primary school sector, and all three disciplines along with softball in the high schools. Individually, athletics has drawn the most attention in both primary and secondary schools, and has experienced the most success.
The cry for baseball in the school system continues to ring out, but for the most part, it appears that it is falling on deaf ears. The Ministry of Education, through its sports unit, experimented with baseball in the schools a few years back, but apparently, the ministry experienced difficulty fitting it into the after-school sports curriculum and sustaining consistent league play. The program fizzled out, but thankfully, through the various leagues under the umbrella of the Bahamas Baseball Federation (BBF), youth baseball is as vibrant as it has ever been in The Bahamas, and scholarship opportunities are endless.
In basketball, Bahamian high schools have produced some of the best young players in the region. Despite not experiencing the same success on the senior side, on the junior level, The Bahamas has advanced to the FIBA Americas Championships on four separate occasions - all four in the past 12 years. The country hasn't advanced further, but no other Caribbean country can lay claim to that level of success. Numerous college stars and professional athletes surfaced out of that success on the junior side. Girls' basketball hasn't been nearly as successful as the boys', but the program is steadily on the rise. In the various high school leagues around the country, the Tabernacle Baptist Falcons, the C.I. Gibson Rattlers, the St. Augustine's College Big Red Machine and the Westminster College Diplomats have been perennial powerhouses.
Soccer in the high school system has been dominated by the St. Andrew's Hurricanes and Queen's College Comets in the private school sector, and the C.C. Sweeting Cobras and C.R. Walker Knights in the public schools sector. Just recently, a number of young women, many of whom are still in high school, made history for the country when they became the first team from The Bahamas to advance to the CONCACAF Championships. That under-17 national team entered the CONCACAF Championships as the number three team in the Caribbean behind Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, and during the tournament, was able to play the top ranked Caribbean nation Trinidad to a scoreless draw.
The sporting disciplines of volleyball and softball have struggled to produce regional champions in the 39 years of The Bahamas' Independence, but the competition here at home is as intense as it ever was, and the interest continues to grow.
The sporting discipline of athletics has produced World and Olympic Champions on all levels for The Bahamas. Just last year, a youth team from The Bahamas, consisting mostly of Bahamian high school students, produced the best ever finish for The Bahamas at a world level event. Team Bahamas returned from the IAAF World Youth Championships in Lille, France, with three gold medals and one bronze - the best ever collective finish for The Bahamas.
As if that wasn't enough, the team traveling to the World Junior Championships is expected to be just as successful, if not more successful. The World Junior Championships get started on Independence Day and will continue until July 15.
Hence, this Independence Day is expected to bring a period of true national pride for Bahamians. A junior team is in Barcelona, Spain, preparing for the World Junior Championships, and in a couple weeks, a 20-plus member team will depart for the Olympic Games in London, England.
Both teams are expected to fare well, and bring recognition and prestige to this tiny nation of just 39 years of age - The Bahamas.
As of September 3, police officers will once again be placed in public junior and senior high schools throughout the country on a full-time basis, police and education officials announced yesterday.
Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald said the government is going to take a "zero tolerance" approach to school violence.
"We in the Ministries of Education and National Security adhere to the old adage that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure," he said during a press conference at police headquarters attended by numerous stakeholders.
Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade said at the same press conference that police are drawing a line in the sand as officers have been given a mandate to root out possible criminal activity.
"If an officer has reasonable grounds...to suspect that a crime has been committed or is about to be committed, the law gives police that right to take action," said Greenslade.
"We're not only concerned about what's going to happen on school property but what happens to and from school.
"And we send the clarion call to all [that] if you feel that you will be able to interfere with school students to and from school, you are going to be making a mistake."
Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilson, who also attended the press conference, said she is pleased that police will be permanently reinstated in schools.
"The police [are] not only going to be there for crimes," she said. "They are going to be there to help with conflict resolution. They will be able to identify some of the problems prior to the problems happening. You will have intelligence on the ground in the schools because when you talk about a cutlass-wielding child, when you talk about the child that was in the altercation over the weekend and gets to school early on Monday and stashes a gun, a knife, a cutlass, that's not the teacher's job.
"[That's what] we're seeing. That isn't anything new. We've been seeing it. So...if the police are there and they are able to complement the security officers, then that should help to cut down the incidents that we've been seeing."
Minister Fitzgerald said the school-based police officers will also be responsible for developing positive relationships with school stakeholders and establish protocols for the prevention and investigation of all school related occurrences of violence and criminal activities.
The original school policing program launched by the previous Christie administration was abandoned by the Ingraham adminstration shortly after it came into office in 2007.
Instead of maintaining their presence on school grounds, officers were stationed outside of schools during peak hours.
But Fitzgerald said the presence of officers will restore calm in public schools and eliminate some of the fear that exists today.
Police were unable to give statistics on incidents of school violence yesterday.
A special two-day training seminar will be held next week at police headquarters for officers and key school officials involved in the program.
Student-athletes competing under the Government Secondary Schools Sports Association's (GSSSA) umbrella will soon be able to step onto the baseball diamond, now that the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has officially added that sport to the curriculum.
The Bahamas Baseball Federation (BBF) and the Bahamas Softball Federation (BSF) have partnered with the ministry to bring the realization of baseball in the schools to fruition. Competition is expected to swing into action this September when the new school year starts. As of now, softball is being played in the school system. According to Evon Wisdom, director of the Sports Unit in the ministry, the sport will be played by male student-athletes. Wisdom was unable to reveal the age group which will compete for the first title, but said the initiative was mandated by Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald.
"This mandate came down from our minister with regard to baseball being played in the schools," said Wisdom. "What we have done is have both associations sit down and coordinate a plan. They are still in the process of coordinating that plan where both sports co-exist with one another. It is not an adversarial arrangement, but one where both sports can experience continued growth. We see an excellent arrangement to come from both parties not just in New Providence but in The Bahamas at large. We now play at the primary school level, and we will continue to develop that because it's very important that the skills develop at the fundamental level and continue to develop straight through to the high school level."
Secretary General in the BBF Teddy Sweeting said a number of scholarships are awarded every year to persons with excellent fundamental skills. He noted that the transition from softball to baseball is fairly easy for young men who have played at the high school level here at home, referring to the number of scholarship recipients already playing in colleges abroad. Sweeting and Senator Greg Burrows both agreed that the program is long overdue and should have been inserted into the curriculum a long time ago. Burrows, the founder of the Freedom Farm Baseball League, said the program will be introduced in stages, confirming that clinics will be held for physical education teachers.
Senator Burrows said: "It has been a long time coming, but I know that we will make this work and we expect great things from this program. The clinics and conclaves have already started. It will be an ongoing process for the certification of the coaches for the new school year, but I do not believe we can wait any longer. We have to start this program and make any adjustments we need to as we move forward.
"We will have more folks coming to this country to look at players, so that opens up another avenue with sports tourism. We must be aware that we have a large number of young men leave this country every year to play baseball in schools abroad. I think the country is poised. I think everyone is ready and it will benefit everyone if we can keep a lot of our athletes here."
The official home for the sport will be the new baseball field which is currently under construction. Until then, the various teams will compete at two fields located in the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex or at the Freedom Farm Baseball League park. The Pinewood Gardens facility is also being looked at by the minister. The sport is already being played in the school system in Freeport, Grand Bahama, and will also be introduced to the schools in the Family Islands.
The BBF is expected to oversee the baseball program while the BSF will keep a close eye on the softball season for young ladies. Both presidents, of the two sporting bodies, Burkette Dorsette and Godfrey Burnside, have put their stamp of approval on the new initiative, pledging to launch their full support behind it.