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The first day of the Frank 'Pancho' Rahming Track and Field Meet got underway with a bang yesterday at the old Thomas A. Robinson Track and Field Stadium.
The area was flocked with young children and parents who showed up for the opening day of the primary schools track and field championship. The attendance on opening day easily surpassed last year's number, as schools from all over the country were represented. A record 66 schools are taking part in the meet, and the schools from New Providence were actually out-numbered by schools from the Family Islands.
"We started late today. I think we had a mix-up because we were unable to have the scratch meet yesterday, but it seems to be running well since it started. It is important that all the Family Islands become involved because you want to give them the same opportunities that you give to young athletes in Grand Bahama and New Providence. You want to give to primary schools all over the country the same chance," said Rahming.
"I'm glad to see that Acklins is here this year, and Inagua sent a group of athletes out, so it's good to know that more of the islands are participating. It's good for them to just come and see what it's like and probably if they like it this year then next year you would have more schools entering and participating. The only thing about that is the meet will probably go longer because you will have more rounds to go through, but I guess that's what you want. It's a good dilemma to be in," he added.
After the first day, the Family Islands are in control. A combined team from North and Central Andros has a first day total of 30 points. Queen's College is tied for second place with Sts. Francis and Joseph, each with 23 points.
Hugh Campbell Primary and Temple Christian are tied for fourth with 20 points each, while the Eleuthera Destroyers are fourth with 15.50 points. Cleveland Eneas sits in fifth with 14.50 points; Abaco District is sixth with 11.50 points. St. Andrew's is seventh with nine points, and Walter Parker Primary and Kingsway Academy are tied for eighth with eight points apiece. Bartlett Hill Primary, Martin Town Primary and St. John's College are tied for 10th with six points each, and Yellow Elder follows with four points.
Lanqique Thompson from the Eleuthera Destroyers dominated competition in the 'C' category girls' 400 meter (m). She finished the race in a time of 1:14.09.
Oliver Deangelo from North and Central Andros took no prisoners as he blew by the competition in the 'A' division boys' long jump. He finished with a best leap of 5.08m (16' 8").
Competition will continue today, starting at 9 a.m.
Another Exuma school has had its technology upgraded by the Sandals Foundation.
Rolleville Primary was the recipient of a brand new computer lab.
And while the lab will be used to advance the students of Rolleville Primary, its principal, Lavone Knowles, said the computers will benefit the entire community.
The students were happy to receive the new computers and created a special hand-made sign for the opening of the lab saying, "thank you Sandals". They also presented Sandals Foundation representatives with a beautiful plaque.
Community leaders, like Reverend Adam Brown, made a commitment to assist in the upkeep of the new computers.
This is the fourth computer lab the Sandals Foundation has donated to Exuma schools. In a release, the company said it is looking forward to completing many more.
ust like the adage "once a man, twice a child", every female, if she lives long enough will have to go through what is known as menopause which is also known as the 'change of life'. But it's not a one-size-fits-all change; menopause affects women differently, with hot flashes and night sweats being the most commonly discussed symptoms. However, there many other symptoms that can impact a woman's quality of life, and there are a variety of methods women can try to manage the often frustrating and life-altering symptoms.
Natural menopause is defined as the permanent cessation of menstrual periods, determined retrospectively after a woman has experienced 12 months of amenorrhea (the absence of menstruation) without any other obvious pathological or physiological cause. Menopause before age 40 is considered abnormal and is referred to as primary ovarian insufficiency (premature ovarian failure).
The menopausal transition or perimenopause begins on average, four years before a woman's final menstrual period and includes a number of physiologic changes -- irregular menstrual cycles, marked hormonal fluctuations, hot flashes, sleep disturbances, mood symptoms, vaginal dryness, changes in libido, bone demineralization and changes in lipid profile.
According to Dr. Lorne Charles, obstetrician and gynecologist, while menopause is a frustrating transition period for women, there are many things that they can do safely to mitigate the effects of menopause. He noted that menopause is generally viewed as a taboo topic as there is a lot of apprehension concerning the subject matter, and sometimes even distress when the word 'menopause' is mentioned.
Speaking at a recent Doctors Hospital Distinguished Lecture Series, Dr. Charles tried to place menopause into a more positive context. He said the only reason it is talked about today in the first instance is due to human life expectancy increasing over the years.
"If you wind the clock back 200 years, many women would not have made it to menopause, so with increased life expectancy in the modern era comes transitions that we would have never seen before and it's all part of life, and it's all about inquiring the knowledge about these transitions and managing them consciously so that you have the most healthy and most disease-free life possible," said the physician.
According to the doctor, who practices out of all major medical facilities on the island, the science of menopause is not clearly understood, but the most common belief is the minute a fetus is conceived and the sex is determined, the female fetus has a fixed number of eggs (follicles) that may ultimately unite with sperm to produce a new human being at the appropriate time. He said a female starts out with approximately two million eggs and by the time she is born, the number of eggs has already reduced to one million. By the time girls reach puberty, their eggs number at 500,000; with every subsequent menstrual cycle, one egg is released and the number reduces. Throughout a female's life, the doctor said, said there is a progressive depletion of follicles, which are ultimately depleted to the point of a conspicuous hormonal transition, which is what menopause is as a concept.
"Natural menopause is defined as the permanent cessation of menstrual periods, determined retrospectively after a woman has experienced 12 months of amenorrhea without any other obvious pathological or physiological cause. Menopause before the age of 40 is considered to be abnormal."
According to Dr. Charles, the average age a woman should expect to go through menopause is 51, although the age range can vary between 45 and 55 years old.
"If you are 45 years or older and you have not had a menstrual period in 12 months, there is a good chance that you are menopausal. Most women in this group do not need any lab testing to confirm menopause, especially if they are having symptoms such as hot flashes or vaginal dryness.
Prior to menopause, women will go through a pre-menopausal period that includes the late reproductive years in the 40s when menopause has not yet arrived but women may start to have changes that are indicative of its coming. Women then transition into the menopausal stage (peri-menopause), which Dr. Charles believes is very noticeable in many women, and which is divided into two segments -- early transition and late transition -- before menopause eventually takes place.
During the early transition, women typically first notice a lengthening in the intermenstrual interval (in contrast to the shortening that occurs in the late reproductive years. Normal intermenstrual interval during the reproductive years is 25 to 35 days; during the menopausal transition this may increase to 40 to 55 days.
During late transition, after the initial lengthening of intermenstrual interval, women develop more dramatic menstrual cycle changes with skipped cycles, episodes of amenorrhea and an increasing frequency of anovulatory cycles. According to the doctor, this stage lasts anywhere from one to three years before the final menstrual period.
Although the median age at natural menopause is 51.4 years, according to Dr. Charles, there is considerable variability around the onset of menopause, which affects five percent of women after age 55, five percent between ages 40 and 55 and 90 percent between age 45 and 55. Timing is affected by a number of factors -- genetics, ethnicity, smoking and whether the woman has had a hysterectomy.
"Usually in families [mothers and daughters], the females have similar lengths. It varies among races as well. Smoking can bring about menopause two years earlier, and hysterectomy - once you remove the ovaries, menopause is instantaneous. But studies have shown, even if you leave the ovaries in with the uterus absent, by someone unknown mechanism, it also brings on menopause."
The most common symptom during the menopausal transition are hot flashes which he said occur in up to 80 percent of women in some cultures. A hot flash typically begins as a sudden sensation of heat centered on the upper chest and face that rapidly becomes generalized. The sensation of heat lasts from two to four minutes, is often associated with profuse perspiration and occasionally palpitations, and is sometimes followed by chills and shivering and a feeling of anxiety. Hot flashes usually occur several times per day, although the range may be from only one or two each day to as many as one per hour during the day and night. Hot flashes are particularly common at night. When hot flashes occur at night, they are typically described as night sweats.
According to the physician, only 20 to 30 percent of women seek medical attention for treatment of hot flashes, even though more than 80 percent of them will have them for more than one year. Untreated, hot flashes stop spontaneously within four to five years of onset in most women. He said that some women have hot flashes that persist for many years, with nine percent reporting persistent symptoms after age 70.
"The hot flashes in themselves aren't harmful, but they're distressing," he said.
A distressing feature of hot flashes is their tendency to disrupt sleep due to them occurring more frequently at night. Women may experience sleep disturbances even in the absence of hot flashes. During the transition to menopause, some women begin to have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, even if night sweats are not a problem. The estimated prevalence of difficulty sleeping based on two longitudinal
cohort studies was 32 to 40 percent in the early menopausal transition, increasing to 38 to 46 percent in the late transition.
"Many of the phenomenon that women experience overlap. If you wake up in the night with hot flashes, that will result in a sleep deficit. You're going to feel tired the next day, maybe a bit cranky, not motivated to work. True sleep disturbances exist in menopause, but often times it's a mixed issue, resulting from the other symptoms, the hot flashes etcetera. That is also a common phenomenon that, in turn, leads to fatigue, in some instances depression,
menstrual migraines. And all of this is related to the changes in hormones. How the body works is that if there is a change in hormonal levels that creates a symptom. Once a level remains consistent, the symptoms tend to subside, so all of this tumultuous experience is really for the transition. After a woman becomes established in menopause it tends to go away in the majority of cases.
Let's talk about sex
Apart from the hot flashes, Dr. Charles said the less discussed symptom, which is nonetheless significant is urogenital atrophy - the modern term for what was called atrophic vaginitis.
Menopause leads to a 95 percent reduction in estrogen production, a key hormone in females. The drop in estrogen concentration, exacerbated by the normal aging process, is responsible for the adverse changes seen with urogenital atrophy.
"The vagina goes through changes -- there is dryness, less secretion during sexual arousal, less blood flow, less glycogen, which provides a nutrient for a particular bacteria which gives a vagina its acid pH and that acid environment fends off some infections. But with the withdrawal of that, the vagina becomes more prone to infection. It becomes less capable of handling friction, sexual activity. There's loss of elasticity. The vagina is no longer able to stretch as it would have," said the doctor.
"[Estrogen] is a dominant hormone throughout a female's reproductive life, and that is the hormone that is withdrawn at menopause, so that is why there are so many symptoms for a female, because it is an essential part of her life prior to that point," he said.
According to the doctor, estrogen loss at menopause is constant and is there to stay; the loss of vaginal function and atrophy will be continuous and progressive.
"Ultimately there will be shortening and narrowing of the vaginal canal, thinning of the wall and it's going to be more susceptible to thinning and bruising, and all of this leads to a potentially vicious cycle if the woman is not cautious, because that leads to less sexual activity which makes the issue worse. The remedy for it involves frequent sexual activity. So, if there is a vicious cycle where the woman is apprehensive because of the changes and it's causing pain and she's not going to have sex she's going to make it worse and really complicate the issue."
The gynecologist/obstetrician said a lot has been done to find remedies to treat hot flashes -- with estrogen being the drug of choice and a "fad" for a while. Remembering his time at medical school, Dr. Charles believes hormone replacement therapy (HRT) became the new fountain of youth before a study showed that it put women at increased risk for breast cancer and endometrial cancer.
"Although exceptions can be made for estrogen therapy based on some extreme cases with women having hot flashes, I personally don't practice it," he said. "My reasoning for that is that separate from breast cancer, there are other issues that estrogen can cause in a female while trying to relieve those symptoms, and it's too difficult to assess who is at risk versus who is not."
Dr. Charles said many women do not discuss menopause as an issue with their healthcare provider. According to him, in The Bahamas, gynecologists generally do not highlight menopause as an issue because patients do not complain about it; most people believe it's a normal part of the aging process and don't complain. But he said it does not have to be that way.
When atrophy really sets in, it can create discomfort even in the absence of sex. The vagina can feel irritated, like a chapped lip with dryness and pain which Dr. Charles said can be distressing.
The first line of treatment for vaginal atrophy or dryness is moisturizers and lubricants. According to Dr. Charles, through regular use of vaginal moisturizing agents, symptoms of vaginal dryness can be managed, however, while the agents may improve coital comfort and increase vaginal moisture, they do not reverse most atrophic vaginal changes. As such, those products are useful mostly for women with mild symptoms.
Women who are sexually active with a partner have fewer symptoms related to vaginal atrophy.
"Since vaginal atrophy results in a loss of tissue elasticity, in addition to lubrication, this benefit likely derives from mechanical stretching of the vulvovaginal tissue or increased vaginal blood flow."
The obstetrician/gynecologist said low dose vaginal estrogen therapy is the most effective treatment for moderate to severe symptoms of vaginal atrophy. The therapy restores the lining of the vagina and recreates lubrication, treating the problem of dryness effectively; the benefits to the urinary tract are realized with estrogen creams in the vagina. That use of estrogen therapy is appropriate for women with symptoms of vaginal atrophy in the setting of low estrogen levels, provided that there are no contraindications to the therapy -- women with estrogen-dependent tumors. Dr. Charles said vaginal estrogen therapy leads to restoration of the normal vaginal pH and microflora, increased vaginal secretions and decreased vaginal dryness.
Prior to initiating vaginal estrogen, there are some conditions that should be excluded. Women with postmenopausal bleeding should be evaluated for endometrial hyperplasia or cancer; women with urinary tract symptoms should be evaluated for urinary tract infection or other conditions such as interstitial cystitis, or urinary tract malignancy.
"Low dose vaginal estrogen therapy may be used indefinitely, based on the low risk of adverse effects, although clinical trials to date have not followed women beyond one year," he said.
Cognitive changes and osteoporosis
According to the doctor, women often describe problems with memory loss and difficulty concentrating during the menopausal transition and menopause.
"There can be some cognitive changes in menopause. It's not known necessarily that it's due to menopause itself, or if it's just the aging process, but there could be memory loss, difficulty concentrating after menopause, and it's thought to be related mostly to the transition which is the peri-menopausal period. It could be a complex combination of factors," he said.
The other big concern with menopause is osteoporosis, which is characterized by low bone mass, micro-architectural disruption and skeletal fragility, resulting in decreased bone strength and an increased risk of fracture. Dr. Charles believes that the majority of postmenopausal women with osteoporosis have bone loss related to estrogen deficiency and age. He said osteoporosis has no clinical manifestation until there is a fracture, of which vertebral fracture is the most common clinical manifestation of osteoporosis. Most of the fractures are asymptomatic and diagnosed as an incidental finding on chest or abdominal x-ray. Other fractures, like hip fractures, are relatively common in osteoporosis; hip fractures affect up to 15 percent of women and five percent of men by 80 years of age. Distal radius fractures (Colles fractures) may occur and are more common in women shortly after menopause.
Medics believe that all postmenopausal women with osteoporosis should receive adequate calcium (500 to 1,000 milligrams per day) and vitamin D (a total of 800 international units daily). Dr. Charles recommends that the first measure is lifestyle changes, which should include regular exercise, smoking cessation, counseling on fall prevention and avoidance of heavy alcohol use. In addition, affected patients should avoid, if possible, drugs that increase bone loss such as glucocorticoids.
Bisphosphanates are also recommended in the treatment of postmenopausal women older than 50 with a history of hip or vertebral fracture or with osteoporosis.
Dr. Charles said bisphosphanates are very effective, but hard to take and are extremely hard on the stomach orally. They should not be given to patients with upper gastrointestinal disease, and should be discontinued in patients who develop any symptoms of esophagitis. The alternative to the oral medication is an intravenous dose.
There are many things that can be done safely to mitigate the effects of menopause for women. Dr. Charles believes that the stage should also be seen as an opportunity, separate and apart from addressing those symptoms, for a woman to do a general medical assessment.
"Once that transition comes along, at least consciously, mammograms every year, pap smears every year, colonoscopy at age 50 and above which is associated with endometrial cancer and just generally a complete visit to the gynecologist to counsel and advise what to expect, because separate and apart from the symptoms of menopause itself and the impact it has on the body at that age and beyond, cancers are a more pertinent issue and a woman should be well educated on screening, avoidance and prevention at that age," he said.
The prospect of receiving an award for being academically exceptional was never at the forefront of Ricara Skippings' mind as she matriculated through her bachelor of business administration (accounting) program at The College of The Bahamas (COB). She said she was simply following the sage advice of her mother.
On Wednesday, May 28, when scores of high achievers of the college's 2014 commencement class were honored during a special awards ceremony, Ricara was leading the pack. She completed her program with distinction, earning the School of Business' top awards as well as the college's two primary honors.
"I really did not expect this because I actually was working to make my term grades and get a sense of self accomplishment and do my best in every course. I never thought about awards. That was never at the forefront of my mind," she said.
"My mum would always say, you are not competing with the person sitting next to you in the classroom, you are competing against the person sitting in China, Germany, Africa, New Zealand. This is a global environment and if all you think you have to focus on is the person sitting in front of you, then you have big problems."
Ricara humbly accepted the School of Business award, donated by Fidelity Bank and Trust, and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce Award for Academic Excellence. Many other graduands were honored in various schools - from mathematics, physics and technology to English, education and communication and creative arts - for being high achievers.
Acting President of COB Dr. Earla Carey-Baines commended them for their perseverance.
"In the academic arena, they had set themselves apart as scholars and leaders worthy of accolades and emulation. We salute all of our award recipients, as these past years have not been easy ones. The achievement of a college degree is fraught with many tests and challenges. To succeed in college requires commitment, perseverance and sacrifice. You sit before us, not only because you have succeeded, but because you have excelled."
Randol Dorsett is a partner at law firm Graham Thompson and chairman of the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority. In 2001 when he graduated from COB he was recognized for his scholastic aptitude. He returned to his alma mater to deliver the keynote address to the honorees, urging the males among them to be leaders in every facet of society.
"We need more men of excellence now more than ever. We need role models for our sons. Our young Bahamian sons must look up to you for guidance. They must emulate your quest for excellence and model themselves accordingly," he said. "When they are faced with the decision to follow the man who leads the gang on the corner and the student who attends COB, they must come to the realization that to be a man is to know responsibility, to take care of one's self and to take care of one's home. To be a man is to be faithful to one's family, to be a man is to be a leader with a burning desire always to better one's self."
He also challenged the college to be the leading voice in The Bahamas and to help solve the issues this country faces.
"The college and its academics must be the voice of reason in the midst of all the idle talk. When we consider national development plans, issues of taxation, the rights of citizens, issues relating to the environment, these are all issues [in which] the college must have a leading voice. The college must undertake and produce the research which must underpin the public debate," he added.
In all, almost 70 graduating students were honored for their academic excellence and leadership. Among them was Ashley Knowles, who earned an associate of arts degree in music and is a member of The College of The Bahamas Concert Choir. He has travelled the world performing under the leadership of his mentor and choir director Audrey Dean-Wright. Most recently, the college's choir performed at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. He enthusiastically expressed his appreciation for her musical guidance.
"I have been prepared so well, it is like you are almost indebted because you cannot repay [Mrs. Dean-Wright], or the music department, or the college for all I have learned in such a short time. When I travel internationally, people are surprised that I am only a second-year student completing an associate degree. They are so pleased to see that this type of training is happening here in The Bahamas," he said.
At the awards ceremony, Dr. Eslyn Jones, vice -president of student affairs, presented a special award to Dean-Wright, an associate professor at the college, for her longstanding commitment to music and education at the institution.
"For over 18 years, this young lady has been training our students and giving us beautiful music at all our ceremonies and services. We thought it fitting to honor her today. This plaque is a small token of our appreciation for the hard work that she has done over the years," she said.
The college's 2014 commencement activities happened under the theme: "A legacy of leadership: Forty years of educating the nation".
Atlantis, Paradise Island is inviting the public to get into the holiday spirit and give a new, or gently used, favorite children's book in support of its annual holiday book drive benefitting the Atlantis Against Illiteracy initiative.
The endeavor, which is being spearheaded by Atlantis Library and Scotiabank, is set for Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the entrance to Kelly's at the Mall at Marathon. Books can also be dropped off at Gems radio station on Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5p.m.
"In our effort to, at the very least, put a dent in the problem of illiteracy here in The Bahamas, Atlantis, through the Atlantis Against Illiteracy program, has partnered with Scotiabank, Gems radio and Kelly's to try to collect as many books as possible for the purpose of making those books available to as many local children as possible," said Stephaney Davis, librarian at Atlantis Library and organizer of the book drive
"We are asking people throughout our communities to donate at least one book, so that we can in turn pass those books on to the various primary school libraries and help to further expose our youngsters to the wonderful worlds that reading and the imagination can create."
Those interested in participating in this initiative can bring a book that's in good condition, or buy a new one from Kelly's. Anyone who donates can enter to win a Scotiabank gift basket or dinner for two at Atlantis, Paradise Island. Those who purchase a book from Kelly's can also enter to win a separate Kelly's holiday gift basket.
The Atlantis Against Illiteracy initiative has grown since its launch in October 2012, leading efforts to raise over 1,000 books, which have been donated to local primary schools.
Bahamian Shantel Braynen has been chosen by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHIHBCU) to join its first class of HBCU All-Stars, recognizing 75 undergraduate, graduate and professional students for their accomplishments in academics, leadership and civic engagement.
Currently enrolled at 62 HBCU's, Braynen, a senior at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona, Florida, and the other All-Stars were selected from 445 students who submitted applications that included a transcript, resume, essay and recommendation.
An accounting major, Braynen was shocked when she was contacted by the White House.
"I knew it was a competitive process, but I prayed that I would be chosen. I am grateful to have an opportunity to represent Bethune-Cookman and all HBCU students nationally. And I look forward to serving the community more fully," she said.
Over the course of the next year, the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) All-Stars will serve as ambassadors of the White House Initiative by providing outreach and communication to their fellow students about the value of education and the Initiative as a networking resource. Through social media and their relationships with community-based organizations, the All-Stars will share promising and proven practices that support opportunities for all young people to achieve their educational and career potential.
Braynen, 21, who makes up one of the 45 female strong cohort and the 30 males, will participate in regional events and web chats with Ivory Toldson, deputy director of the WHIHBCUs, other initiative staff and professionals from a wide range of disciplines. They will also have opportunities to engage with other scholars to showcase individual and collective talent across the HBCE community.
"It means a lot to me to have been chosen. I give all the glory to God for the opportunity to be chosen," she told The Nassau Guardian. "It means a lot to be chosen as an ambassador of the White House Initiative to promote education, and because I'm from The Bahamas and I'm at a small HBCU it means a lot to represent all those places and also my family."
She was recommended for the initiative by a professor at Texas A&M University who she met when she visited the school two years ago. Her academics, accomplishments and leadership ability got her accepted.
She is the daughter of Stephen and Rochelle Rolle.
Braynen, who lived in Bahama Sound, Exuma, and attended L.N. Coakley School for two years before departing for university, is a perfect 4.00 grade point average student -- an average she hopes will hold true to form through her graduation in May. She has turned in a perfect record since her freshman year.
"I really value education because I believe knowledge is power, so coming into college I had my goal to stay focused and keep the grades up," she said.
Getting to that point was a process for Braynen. She recalls being a C-average student for most of her formative years until she decided to turn things around.
"In primary school I was the student who just barely got by. In high school I was just a so-so student. The turning point for me was when I had two sisters graduate from high school and I saw how well they did -- one was even a valedictorian, so it was then I decided to take my education a little more seriously." Braynen was a 10th grade student at the time. And when she decided to make that switch, she just did it. She applied herself and saw her grade point average rise to 3.5 and above that easily.
Academically, she is a testament to all children who are struggling and who may not be applying themselves that they can struggle, but that they can make the turnaround as well.
She said it helped that when she went through those years when she did not apply herself to learning that she had parents that drilled into her and her siblings that they wanted them to do well, and that they had sacrificed so their children could receive a good education. Braynen said she knew from a child that she would attend college because her parents always pushed for it. She's just glad she made the turnaround when she did.
Braynen is also a believer in that education comes outside of the books as well. "Education is not just about book knowledge -- and this goes right back to this White House initiative -- if I hadn't gone out to Texas and met other people, then I probably wouldn't have been nominated for this Initiative, so education is much more than just studying a book," she said. "We learn from other people and through talking with others."
Her advise to high school students is to put God first in what they do. She said he would direct their path.
"I didn't see myself in primary school being here [college], but it was all in God's plan so I think first of all if they put God first he'll direct their steps in everything. They should also always have a good attitude, and by that I mean don't complain when they get a lot of work in class, but just have a good attitude, and stay focused. If they want to be a chef go out there and be the best chef they can be. If they want to be a doctor, go and be the best doctor they can be, but just stay focused and do well at what they choose to do."
With weeks to her graduation, Braynen says her immediate goals are to find a job for a few years before applying to graduate school. In 10 years she would like to have her own business and she has dream of one day starting her own mentoring initiative.
"With God all things are possible and it doesn't matter where you come from, but it matters where you end up," she says.
Nelson Mandela's quote "After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb," is another favorite of hers and one that she says she hopes Bahamian students would live by as well in their approach to their academics.
"When I graduated from high school I was celebrating that I was over this big hill called high school, but I'm climbing this next hill called college and when I'm finished, there's a next hill called real life, so students should ensure that they have determination when they're climbing the hills throughout life and make sure to have God in their life and be focused to get over those hills. But while climbing the hills to also make sure to help other people up which I try to do now in college by being a role model for other students," she said.
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas - As the E. Clement Bethel National Arts Festival begins its first of two weeks in Grand Bahama, parents of participating preschoolers sang praises for the cultural institution that has been in existence for more than 50 years.
Lisa Turnquest, mother of Sunland Baptist Academy pre-schooler Lia Turnquest, said her daughter worked very hard on her performance and applauded the festival for giving her the opportunity to show what she is capable of doing.
"She has been practicing for a number of weeks and just to see her perform on stage with no nervousness - and so calm and poised - I am so very proud of her," she said. Her husband, Lionel, agreed and said that it was a "bit overwhelming". "Seeing our daughter perform for her very first time on the stage, I feel very proud to see her grow to this stage already at a very early part of her life," Mr. Turnquest said. "There is nothing more I can say about that," he added while looking down lovingly at his smiling daughter.
Lawanda Turner, mother of Sunland Baptist Academy pre-schooler Antwanique Turner, said that her daughter performed her two recitations "very well" and she was proud of the way she spoke so clearly and confidently on stage.
"This is my first time being to the festival," she said. "I have never been to one before. I feel that all the children did well, being that they are youngsters and remembered such a large part like they did."
"It was a good experience," Cordelia Armbrister said about her son and Bahamas Total Education Centre pre-schooler Kayden Ferguson's performance. "I felt proud because it was the first time. I helped him with his practice and he did so well. He enjoyed himself."
Kindercare Learning Centre pre-schooler Madison Davis also had both of her parents watched her recitations. They voiced their pride in her performances on the stage that day. Shanese Davis said Madison has this opportunity and even if she does not win nationally she is so creative and expressive that it is wonderful just to see her.
"We are very excited," her husband, Keno, added. "This is a good way to express themselves and we should never stunt their creativity."
Mrs. Turner commended the festival for having adjudicators like Val Maura judging the participants' performances.
"It's good that they know so much about their work," she said. "It's better that the children learn from someone who has the experience and know how to perform."
Mrs. Turnquest added that she feels "fabulous" about the National Arts Festival making it possible for her daughter the showcase her talent because she remembers being in the festival when she was a girl.
"To see that it is still going on, I am really, really excited," she said. "It is a wonderful thing for the children. It teaches them confidence and poise and, outside of the academics, the arts is a good instrument in the development of children."
"It is actually an exciting event," Mr. Turnquest added. "My nieces have been going for years and they have all been performing and to see my daughter now coming through makes my heart swell. I am glad to see that she has taken interest in it and she has done very well."
"Actually, I was a part of the Festival, too, in the dramatized reading portion when I was at school (C. W. Sawyer Primary)," Mrs. Davis noted. "I am just happy that it is still around. Kids need stuff like this to showcase their creative talents."
Mrs. Turner added a sentiment that was a "given" for most of the parents that day. "I want her to know that I am so proud of her and she will get the treat that I promised her," she said with a smile.
The approximate six weeks left on the school calendar usually chalk up to being the most challenging, with a high amount of absenteeism and truancy by students, according to Anzlo Strachan, chief school attendance officer in the Ministry of Education. In an effort to stem the tide, school attendance officers have been visiting various schools on New Providence, encouraging students to remain in school and to persevere through their circumstances.
Through the presentations delivered during junior school assemblies at L.W. Young Junior High School, A.F. Adderley Junior High School, Anatol Rodgers High School and D.W. Davis Junior High School, the officers engaged students through skits and songs in an effort to impart the message in a way that students could relate to.
The situation of absenteeism (missing a day or two here and there, sometimes for illness, or with a good reason) and truancy (there is no real reason, the student simply decides they won't go to school) is one that Strachan said is of concern because of the significant number of children that don't attend school at this time of the year.
"The summer is coming up and students feel that it's almost the end of the year. Maybe they didn't do well all year, so they feel they don't have a chance to do anything in the upcoming exams, so they just don't go to school. The kids start to drop out," said Strachan.
According to him, school attendance is always good in September, October and November but starts to wean in February and March.
He said that an average of 900 to 1,000 students on New Providence have skipped school annually for the past 10 years according to their records over just 18 schools. Today, he said the average of female absenteeism and truancy is split almost 50-50 today with their male counterparts in comparison to yesteryear when he said the norm would have been 300 female students to 600 male students.
"If you really look at it, I'm quite certain that we have over 2,000 students right here in New Providence with frequent absenteeism and truancy. And we tend to group truancy and absenteeism when it comes to numbers almost in the same category sometimes, because the bottom line for us -- whether it's absenteeism or truancy -- is that the students just aren't in school," said the attendance officer.
According to Strachan, there are a number of criteria used when determining absenteeism and truancy, the most obvious being when officers notice a pattern developing when a child misses school once per week over a four-week period. "They think they may be hiding from us by doing that, but we look at the registers very carefully," he said. "Then you have situations where a child is absent three or more days over a two-week period without a note or contact from the parent or guardian, so we start to investigate those cases. Those are the more noticeable criteria and are more easily seen and are red flags. Then you may have a child out for actually two weeks," he said.
The challenge then arises for the attendance office, which only has 14 officers (13 in New Providence and one in Grand Bahama), inclusive of Strachan, to locate the students, who may have changed addresses.
With limited officers, Strachan said the task of policing absenteeism and truancy in schools can be difficult, but he said they have other resources to help them do their jobs, including liaising with guidance council departments in the various schools, the police and social services.
The attendance officers also do street patrols with police officers present. The objective of the street patrol is to observe and record the number of students seen on the street in a specific mapped out area or community. Previously, they concentrated on inner city communities, from which the majority of referrals and public complaints were made, however, as recently as last month, they included subdivisions. During patrols, attendance officers observe and speak to area residents to ascertain whether there are students out of school during school hours. The officers collect information on the students, including age, gender, grade school and the reasons for their absence, as well as the students' parents' names; a case file is then assigned to officers.
During a March patrol of Yellow Elder Gardens and parts of Millenium Gardens, the attendance officers encountered six students out of school: five male and one female ranging in age from nine to 17. The reasons given for their absences included not having shoes to wear, fighting and leaving campus as a result, running away from campus without permission, unpaid school fees and awaiting Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary School Examinations. One student attended a private school. The others attended government schools.
Strachan also said that every attendance case has a social issue attached to it; his officers consult school guidance counselors to find out if students are back in school and talk to them about the issues and assisting with keeping children in school.
"Getting a child back in school is one thing. Keeping them there is the real challenge, so you need to get the students involved in programs," he said. Strachan also said it was imperative that a formerly absent or truant student visit his or her guidance counselor's office at least once every two days, or daily, in some cases.
According to Bahamian law, a child can legally leave school one day before their 17th birthday, said Strachan, and not once they've attained the age of 16, as is the popular belief.
The 25-year veteran of the attendance office believes that the increase in absenteeism and truancy is relative. He said school attendance, with the exception of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, is the longest-running social agency in the country, with 130-plus years of existence. Absenteeism and truancy are not new phenomenons, but, Strachan said, in a 21st century, it is important for Bahamians to have an education.
"If you to intend to be successful in life, you must attend school in order to get somewhere in life. And high school is not the end all. Just about every job is requiring some type of certificate. Eventually, as the competition gets stiffer, you're going to need a certificate to collect garbage," said Strachan.
He admitted that there are some students who are uncontrollable and who aren't wanted in schools because they can disrupt the entire system. He said those children, depending on their circumstances, aren't left to fend for themselves, but are sent programs that cater to their needs.
The chief attendance officer said his unit is in the process of producing infomercials to educate students on why they should not cut school. He said the unit is also developing a website where students will be able to find answers to their questions, if they are thinking about cutting school or dropping out. Strachan said the website is built, and his team is hoping to go live before the start of the next school year.
During their recent junior school tour, Strachan's team encouraged students to take advantage of opportunities in the school system, like the hospitality class at Anatol Rodgers, where he said students don't just learn to cook, but are taught everything they need to know that enables them to leave high school and go directly into the hotel industry. He also highlighted the maritime course, which has proved effective at C.V. Bethel.
He said they have taken their message to junior school students, because they feel that is the age that needs to be addressed to try to change the trend of absenteeism and truancy at the high school level.
"It's during junior school that children usually go through changes -- they're out of primary school with older students and parents tend to treat them differently, so that's the age we need to catch to stay in school and discourage unexplained absenteeism," the chief school attendance officer said.
And while he does not have statistics to prove his theory, Strachan said he believes there is a relationship between students dropping out school or not coming to school and the crime in the country.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has taken steps to ensure that the $4.2 million invested in information communication technology (ICT) in public schools throughout the country achieves its objective of equipping students to participate in a globally competitive and technological world. A Tech Round Robin training workshop was held for public and private school teachers recently at the T. G. Glover Primary School on Horseshoe Drive.
Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald told the 120 teachers that it was critical to have qualified teachers in every school who are able to give the ICT tools purpose as there are still some teachers who were hesitant about using technology in their lessons. He said the Tech Round Robin was necessary to provide exposure and understanding of modern and emerging instructional technology tools.
Another objective of the workshop was to build the confidence and competence of educational leaders and teachers through exposure to technology integration.
"I like using the whiteboard because my teacher can download lessons right on the board and we can participate more," said T.G. Glover sixth grade student Malique Smith.
Some of the benefits the ministry hopes students would derive from the effective integration of technology in schools included them taking greater ownership of their learning; improved academic performance and being more engaged, reenergized and more motivated to learn. It is also anticipated that disruptive behavior, absenteeism, and dropout rates would diminish.
Held under the theme "Understanding How ICT is Transforming Education", the two-day forum was organized by the INSPIRE (Investing in Students and Programmes for the Innovative Reform of Education) Unit of the ministry headed by Dr. Karen St. Cyr and Faye Bascom, the ICT coordinator.
Funded by a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank, the project is the largest and most successful technology initiative undertaken to date by the government of The Bahamas.
From August 2012 to December 2013, the INSPIRE project has infused significant technology into 76 primary through secondary public schools and upgraded 100 percent of all junior and high school computer labs along with supporting many specialized areas within the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
James Griffin, principal of Lauderdale Lakes Middle School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, told the educators during the forum to "dream the impossible" if they wanted to advance in the technological world. He spoke to them about his experiences with using ICT to transform schools under his leadership from failing schools to schools where students realized significant improvement in their academics and were motivated to learn.
Griffin said that although he has secured hundreds of thousands of technology equipment for his schools, he learnt that if teachers did not embrace his vision, the investment was futile and prohibitive to change.
He said he overcame the problem by networking with another school that had successfully integrated technology into their curriculum. Through virtual teaching sessions with his institution and the other school, he said the result of the networking was his teachers and students developed a greater appreciation for technology.
Griffin told the Bahamian educators that his initial success with networking with a school in his district led him to explore a similar opportunity with a school in the United Kingdom. And that the arrangement allowed the students in his school in Florida to learn the same lessons the same time as a class in Britain. He said such an arrangement could address The Bahamas' shortage of specialized teachers and even the global limitation of specialist teachers.
"Technology will allow the best pre-calculus teacher, or any other teacher, to teach multiple classes in The Bahamas and around the world. There will be no need for a physical teacher with technology at our disposal," said Griffin.
While the education ministry focused on teacher training, Griffin also recommended that training should include students since they are able to grasp technology faster and without the use of a manual.
The Florida-based principal said it was his desire to be the "modern day Martin Luther King Jr." in education in Florida that drove him to lobby for change in his schools. He was the recipient of the Florida Principal of the Year Award.
Representatives from Promethean, manufacturers of active whiteboards, were also at the workshop to demonstrate the latest ICT tools for schools.
Timothy Pinder, a sales and support representative with the Armoury Company, the local distributor of the active whiteboards, showcased a new ICT learning tool, the Active Table, which was a hit with T. G. Glover students.
Pinder noted that a teacher was able to assign six students to work together at a table and later to access their literacy, science and mathematical skills from the feedback the table provided.
Immediately after the tables were programmed, students were excitedly playing educational games, performing tasks and using tablets and cell phones.
Malique said she preferred learning with technology because it is faster and more interesting.
"Technology makes learning fun," said the sixth grade student. It was a sentiment echoed by her peers Kendra Phillipe, Ian Ingraham and Steven Whymns.
Also presenting at the workshop was Roshekia Rolle, a Bahamian who teaches at Lauderdale Lakes Middle School and Allison Papke, a graduate assistant at University of South Florida.
Despite pledging to table the contracts awarded to MalJack Construction under the previous administration, Minister of Labour and National Insurance Shane Gibson indicated yesterday he would not table the $20 million contract awarded to Holiday Industrial Builders.
"If you remember there is a company called MalJack Construction that did a lot of...work at Garvin Tynes Primary School," said Gibson at a press conference at the Cabinet Office.
"They also did...work in Andros and they promised they would never work again.
"They were actually terminated for cause.
"In [the case of] Holiday, they said they (the Ingraham administration) terminated them without cause. In this case, they terminated him (MalJack's principal) for cause.
"I'm going to be tabling in Parliament tomorrow the contracts that he got since he was terminated for cause by the same administration."
But when asked if he would table the $20 million contract awarded to Holiday Industrial Builders, Gibson said, "I can go through all of the NIB contracts and the only time those contract issues are raised is if somebody raised the issue about the contract.
"But you don't table National Insurance contracts in Parliament. When did that happen last?"
Gibson previously said that Holiday Industrial Builders was awarded a $20 million contract to construct a building on John F. Kennedy Drive to house the Ministry of National Security.
He said the bidding was done through a selective tendering process.
In 2004, Holiday Industrial Builders was awarded a $5.8 million contract to build what is now the Office of the Attorney General on John F. Kennedy Drive.
In 2008, the Ingraham administration terminated the contract.
The new building to house the Ministry of National Security, which will be a replica of the Office of the Attorney General building, is being constructed with National Insurance money.
Gibson said Holiday's contract was terminated without cause and the Ingraham administration awarded a new contract to Jones Construction Company, without going to tender.
Prime Minister Perry Christie said he referred the matter of the new Holiday contract to Minister of Works Philip Brave Davis for an investigation into the "accuracy and reasonableness of the price".
"I want to put this to a point because it is amazing that people could take an issue and magnify it when you know it was given to somebody without going to tender," he said.
"I have to presume you know and I presume you don't care.
"You only care when it is awarded by the PLP."
Davis accused the media of fanning public discontent on the issue.
"We looked at the numbers," he said. "We revised all the numbers and we then said this price, the value for what is going to be built, is reasonable and meets the appropriate accepted standard."
At a rally last night, Free National Movement Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis charged that the $20 million contract should not have exceeded $15 million.
Dr. Winston Campbell, has become the University of the West Indies' (UWI) first board-certified specialist in the field of sleep medicine, not only in The Bahamas, but in the Caribbean.
Sleep disorders are known to comprise the hub of high-risk factors in The Bahamas, particularly as it involves the prevailing epidemic of chronic non-communicable disorders such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus type II, obesity, and cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and neuropsychiatric disorders.
According to Dr. Robin Roberts, director of UWI's School of Clinical Medicine, this vast net of risk factors extends to embrace breast cancer and enhances the frequency of life-threatening road traffic accidents.
"Sleep disorders are implicated in spawning and worsening the effects of many medical conditions, namely refractory hypertension, congestive heart failure, strokes, heart attacks, coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation, chronic renal failure, as well as mental depression and various fractured, societal relationships," he said.
"This amalgam of maladies poses a high, hidden economic burden and with significant numbers of persons yet unrecognized and undiagnosed -- estimated at more than 80 percent in our community -- the impact of the overall blend of the public health and economic burden is indeed staggering. There is a great need for this relatively new dimension of medicine to be incorporated in all aspects of the delivery of care in our primary, secondary and tertiary health services."
Dr. Campbell is also the first board-certified ear, nose and throat/head and neck surgeon in The Bahamas. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Otolaryngology and a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. He currently practices out of St. Luke's Medical Centre, Collins Avenue.
LAKESHIA Anderson, Grand Bahama Parks Manager for the Bahama National Trust, met last week with residents of McLean's Town at a public meeting, held at McLean's Town Primary School in Grand Bahama.
Public school teachers in the Family Islands were told over the weekend by the Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) to be on "alert".
The message was sent to teachers in an email by the BUT. However, the email did not say if teachers would take further action after weeks of industrial unrest at several New Providence schools.
BUT President Belinda Wilson did not respond to calls or emails yesterday.
"Belinda Wilson, president of the Bahamas Union of Teachers is placing all members from Grand Bahama to Inagua on alert," the email said.
"There are many issues that are negatively affecting our teachers and the schools that are not being addressed.
"Teachers are being threatened, class sizes are very large, teacher shortages, unhealthy and unsafe working environments, millions of dollars owed to teachers and much more.
"Teachers at Stephen Dillet, Uriah McPhee and Carlton E. Francis have taken a stand. They now need your support.
"Now is the time for us to stand."
Last week teachers staged protests at several public schools over various unresolved issues.
On Friday teachers at Carlton Francis Primary School staged a sit-in over issues that included a teacher shortage and a lack of adequate furniture for students.
The sit-in came after similar action at Stephen Dillet and Uriah McPhee primary schools last week over conditions at those institutions.
The union claimed the schools have mold, rodent and termite infestation, and their air-conditioning units have malfunctioned.
The 17th Annual Bahamas National Spelling Bee produced fierce competition among the 20 participants, but it was Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools student Prachi Kondapuram who took first place.
The event was held at the Crown Ballroom in Atlantis yesterday.
Prachi, 11, of Queen's College, said she did her best to remain calm and focused, chalking up her victory to fastidious preparation.
Prachi, who was still processing her win last night, said, "I can't feel anything right now".
"I am very excited to be going to Washington. I hope I get at least past the written rounds and go into the speaking rounds that will be televised. The Bahamas will place this year."
Asked about her work ethic up to last night, Prachi said, "It has been tons of work, especially for Ms. [Joyelle] McIntosh (coach) who had to tackle tutoring and made us stay two hours every day after school."
Prachi went 23 rounds, winning with the word 'photographer'.
She went one round with sixth grade student Donovan Butler, 11, of Xavier's Lower School, but in the end it was the word 'impertinent' that defeated him.
Prachi will represent The Bahamas at the Scripps National Spelling Bee competition in Washington, D.C.
She will be accompanied by second place contestant, Donovan, and third place contestant Franqel Hagan, 10, of Hugh Campbell Primary School in Grand Bahama.
Prachi was showered with prizes, including a laptop computer, and a $750 cash prize, among many other gifts.
Donovan, who placed second in the previous 16th Annual Bahamas National Spelling Bee, said he was disappointed to be a runner up two years in a row, but he is already focusing on next year's competition.
"I still have next year and hopefully I will do better," he said.
"I have been studying long hours and I have put in a lot of work, and I will continue that."
Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald wished the winner and participants great success.
"To the winner, our high praise and immeasurable support as you become a spelling ambassador for our country," he said in his message.
Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes and Prime Minister Perry Christie shared similar sentiments in their messages.
The Bahamas National Spelling Bee held an additional three rounds as part of the preliminary competition on Friday, in which Donovan placed first; Adon Beckford, 11, of St. John's College placed second and Prachi placed third.
Teachers at Carlton Francis Primary School staged a sit-in yesterday over issues that included a "severe shortage of teachers" and a lack of adequate furniture for students.
Several teachers, who spoke to The Nassau Guardian on condition of anonymity, said some students are forced to stand or sit on the floor in classrooms because of a lack of chairs.
They also claimed that teachers in grades one and two have to move between classrooms because there are not enough instructors.
As the teachers stood behind the school gates, a group of about 20 parents stood on the other side demanding that the Ministry of Education address the concerns.
Other issues include a poor drainage system, mold in the classrooms, a leaking roof and the lack of a pedestrian crossing, the teachers and parents claimed.
Morgan Brooks, whose child is in the first grade at the school, said the lack of furniture at the start of the school year is inexcusable.
"Tell the minister (of education) to bring his chair from his office for my child to sit in," she said. "Bring his desk from his office for my child to sit at.
"Instead of focusing on cutting my teachers' [salaries], let's cut his salary for our roof because it is leaking... Bring us some furniture. Some of the children don't even have a desk to sit at. We need action and we need it now."
Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald said the ministry recently received cabinet approval for the purchase of about $800,000 worth of furniture.
"From time to time we do have these issues that unfortunately schools have to deal with," he said.
"It's not to the point where we feel like it will impact the level of education...But we should have those matters addressed throughout the country."
As it relates to any other issues the teachers may have, Fitzgerald said he has asked Director of Education Lionel Sands to go to the school and meet with them.
"I want to get a full report before I make any determination," he said.
Parent Teacher Association (PTA) President Sharmaine Adderley said the problems at the school have been simmering for years.
"We've gotten promises year after year," Adderley said. "That's why we haven't said anything.
"This is the first three weeks of school and we find teacher shortages through the roof, teachers having to be taken to hospital for high blood pressure; we have to do something about it.
"Our teachers are standing here because they want to teach. This is not a lazy staff. These are workers. These are good teachers. So we are asking for them to step forward and get these things done. Bring in the people."
One angry father stormed on campus and brought out broken pastic chairs he claimed that second graders are forced to sit in. He placed the chairs in the middle of the road.
Shantell Mackey, who has two children who attend the school, noted the possibility of injuries that those chairs pose to the children.
"You see those prongs sticking out," she said, pointing at the broken chairs. "Can you imagine what type of injury a child can get?
"I really want the ministry to come and deal with issues that are happening with this school."
Shelly Anderson, who has a son in grade two, said it seems as if her child is only being entertained at school.
Anderson said she has yet to see evidence that he is learning anything.
"Every day I pick him up from school and I ask him, 'what did you do in school' or I look in his book and there is nothing. He says 'mommy they take me into the library and we watch movies'."
The school has just over 1,000 students and 46 teachers.
The sit-in follows similar action at Stephen Dillet and Uriah McPhee primary schools this week over conditions at those institutions.
The government is auditing the country's educational system to determine how many students have learning disorders and special needs, but Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald estimated that 25 percent of them are in this category.
The audit will also determine how many teachers are equipped to instruct students with special needs.
Fitzgerald held a press conference at the Ministry of Education yesterday to release a manual called the National Standards for Inclusive Education.
The document is meant to be a resource for teachers and relevant agencies to help them ensure that special needs students have their needs met in the educational system.
"We do not see this document as a panacea to address years of deficiencies in the area of special education; however, we do see it as a part of a multifaceted approach to make a difference in the lives of thousands of students denied their right to a quality education in this country," Fitzgerald said.
Starting early next year, teachers will take part in professional workshops conducted at Our Lady's Diagnostic Centre by the ministry's special services and education units.
"The Professional Development Institute at the Mabel Walker Primary School will also play an integral role in the ongoing training of public and private school teachers in inclusive education," Fitzgerald said.
In September, Prime Minister Perry Christie said the government is confronted with the problem of how to design public policies to benefit people with special needs and learning disabilities that can be implemented across the country.
At the time, he urged researchers at The College of The Bahamas to use its resources to get data on the number of residents with disabilities so it can be used to influence public policy.
"Every child in this country must be [afforded] the right to participate in the equity or the resources of the country," Christie said.
"When you share out the resources in education, there must be facilities for that child and those facilities must be adapted to ensure that the child is able to have the opportunity similar to the other children."
Christie also said the government has identified an area on Gladstone Road for the construction of a facility for adults with disabilities.
"[It will be] a facility where special kids who have grown up will be able to go, will be kept while their parents and caretakers go to work, will even be able to spend a night if they have to," he said in September.
THE students and faculty of the Governor's Harbour Primary School recently hosted a special assembly to thank BTC and their iVolunteer team for repairs made to two of the school's restrooms and one of the classrooms, and restoration of playground equipment and purchase and installation of new pieces.