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News Article

February 08, 2012
Bain stresses need for computer science in schools

In a technology driven age, computer science has become a fundamental field of study that drives the world, yet in The Bahamas, it remains an unchartered subject in school curriculums.
Now, an e-learning specialist who has just returned from leading a seminar of international experts said it's time to wake up and smell the future.
"The study of computer science is just as important as mathematics and english," said John Bain, the principal of JSB & Associates and chairman of the e-Learning Committee of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.
"The study of computer science is not a luxury, and should not be an elective, but an integral part of education. It is a vital, analytical discipline, and a system of logical thinking that is as relevant to the modern world as physics, chemistry or biology."
Bain, a chartered forensic accountant and one of the first 40 individuals worldwide to become a Certified Specialist in Asset Recovery (CSAR), employs the use of computer science skills daily in his profession.
Bain assists attorneys, individuals and companies involved in civil litigation matters that involve disputes over shares, partnerships, debt or other financial issues.
If Bain could change one thing concerning business in The Bahamas it would be to make computer science a mandatory subject in the curriculum.
"We are not preparing our children for tomorrow's world," he said. "The schools are not required to teach computer science, but ICT (information and communications technology), a strange hybrid of desktop publishing lessons and Microsoft Office tutorials. While Microsoft Word and Excel are useful vocational skills and are suitable for office work, they are never going to equip anybody for a career in video games (gamification) or visual effects."
Bain, the winner of the 2007 ACCA achievement award for the Americas, is not alone in his position that computer science is a necessary subject for junior and high-school students. With lucrative industries such as interactive entertainment, a $3.1 billion industry in the U.K. alone, heavily reliant on professionals skilled in computer science, the pendulum is swinging in favor of making this subject mandatory in junior and high school curriculums in developed nations worldwide.
Industries necessary for developed nations to survive such as aerospace and defence, chemical  and pharmaceutical and the automobile industry, all make use of super computers and skilled computer scientists.
In the U.K., Education Secretary Michael Gove in a January 2012 speech to BETT, an educational technology trade fair, admitted that the office skills covered in ICT courses currently taught in British schools are out of date.
"Imagine the dramatic change which could be possible in just a few years, once we remove the roadblock of the existing ICT curriculum," stated Gove.
"Instead of children bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word and Excel by bored teachers, we could have 11-year-olds able to write simple 2D computer animations using an MIT tool called Scratch."
In the U.S., Google sponsors CS4HS (Computer Science for High School) an annual program launched to promote computer science high school and middle school curriculum.
Google's education group offers grants to universities who in turn develop 2-3 day workshops for high school computer science teachers. Grants are currently offered in the U.S., Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Strong computer science skills are necessary to develop the future designers, creators, and inventors of new technology. According to Bain, "computer science is not a luxury; it is essential knowledge for the 21st century."

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News Article

February 05, 2012
BAIN CALLS COMPUTER SCIENCE A 'VITAL DISCIPLINE'

FORENSIC accountant John Bain is calling for computer science to be added to the school curriculum, calling it a 'vital discipline'.

Bain, the managing director of John S Bain Chartered Forensic and E-learning specialist, said: "The study of Computer Science is just as important as Mathematics and English."

Mr Bain, the Chairman of the E-Learning Committee of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, added: "The study of computer science is not a luxury, and should not be an elective, but an integral part of education. It is a vital, analytical discipline, and a system of logical thinking that is as relevant to the modern world as physics, chemistry or biology....

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News Article

November 07, 2014
The 'brain drain' is, if anything, a good thing

Dear Editor,
We must all thank bahamasuncensored.com for publishing the first sensible take on this unbelievably stupid "brain drain" non-issue that the local media seem to have invented in their apparent boredom with the real issues.
In a letter on that site, Kortney Rodgers points out the obvious lunacy at the heart of the argument that educated young people leaving here is somehow necessarily a bad thing.
Rodgers asks whether an aspiring astrophysicist is somehow unpatriotic for leaving Nassau to go to where astrophysicists actually have job opportunities. Or perhaps government should set up an astrophysics department in the Ministry of Works just to keep him or her here.
The Bahamas, as a small, high-income country with a relatively diverse economy - extremely diverse for its population size - continues to attract huge numbers of migrants at the bottom of its employment structure. That is the most important fundamental evidence of a basically good and successful economy.
Meanwhile at the professional level, an unusually restrictive set of policies (such as the one that blocks foreign attorneys) have created an unusually large and diverse range of professional opportunities for locals in a country of this size.
Of course educated, young, vibrant people leave here. They do so for the same reason that they leave any population centre of 300,000 souls, whether that be Tampa, Florida, Bakersfield, California or Hull, England. They head to more cosmopolitan places with lifestyle and work opportunities that are more diverse. Unlike most such places, though, in The Bahamas they usually come back.
It is the height of stupidity to expect a country the size of ours to cater to every single career choice by being a center of the most obscure and specialized industries. Yet last week some young Bahamian was complaining that he had to leave home to make his career - as a rapper!
As the world specializes and globalizes, it is normal that people globe-trot to places where certain industries cluster. Rappers will clearly have to leave Kansas to make it big, just as actors will have to leave even a vast metropolis like London to make it big.
Of four siblings, I am the only one living in The Bahamas. The other three live in three separate continents, yet not one of them left here seeking work, or because The Bahamas failed them. They left because as diverse and educated Bahamians, they liked some aspect of the lifestyle found elsewhere. That is fine and healthy. When they return, it can only enrich The Bahamas.

- Andrew Allen

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News Article

September 16, 2014
New scholarship fund to help develop engineering sector

NASSAU, Bahamas -- A corporate entity is collaborating with The Bahamas Society of Engineers (BSE) to help stimulate the participation of more Bahamians in a critical sector in the Bahamian economy. BHM Co. Ltd., formerly Bahamas Hot Mix Co. Ltd., and the BSE have established a scholarship fund at The College of The Bahamas for civil engineering technology students.
The College recently received a donation that will fund a scholarship of $3,000 every two years for a full-time, undergraduate majors pursuing the Associate of Science in Civil Engineering Technology programme. There will also be an opportunity for these scholarship recipients to intern with BHM Co. Ltd.
Ebbe Saidi, Managing Director of BHM Co. Ltd., is convinced that initiating this scholarship fund was necessary in order to encourage more Bahamians to pursue a civil engineering profession.
"Civil engineering is about developing the environment. A lot of that type of industry is on the way in The Bahamas. Firms from all over the world are here and we felt that Bahamians need to enter the industry and take possession of the industry," he said during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding to establish The Bahamas Hot Mix, Bahamas Society of Engineers Scholars Programme.
Recipients of this scholarship will be students enrolled in the ASc. programme in the School of Mathematics, Physics and Technology at The College who demonstrates financial need.

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News Article

February 06, 2012
E-learning expert John Bain calls for computer science in school curriculum

NASSAU, Bahamas -- In a technology driven age, Computer Science has become a fundamental field of study that drives the world, yet in The Bahamas, it remains an unchartered subject in school curriculums. Now, an e-learning specialist who has just returned from leading a seminar of international experts says it's time to wake up and smell the future.
"The study of Computer Science is just as important as Mathematics and English," said John Bain, the Principal of JSB & Associates and Chairman of the e-Learning Committee of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. "The study of computer science is not a luxury, and should not be an elective, but an integral part of education. It is a vital, analytical discipline, and a system of logical thinking that is as relevant to the modern world as physics, chemistry or biology."
Bain, a Chartered Forensic Accountant and one of the first 40 individuals worldwide to become a Certified Specialist in Asset Recovery (CSAR,) employs the use of Computer Science skills daily in his profession. Bain assists attorneys, individuals and companies involved in civil litigation matters that involve disputes over shares, partnerships, debt or other financial issues.  
If Bain could change one thing concerning business in The Bahamas it would be to make Computer Science a mandatory subject in the curriculum.

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News Article

September 05, 2011
Union concerned about teacher shortage, dengue, state of schools

A shortage of teachers, the escalating dengue fever outbreak, and the state of some schools affected by Hurricane Irene, are some of the chief concerns that Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilson expressed as public schools open across the country today.
Yesterday Wilson said the public school system is short of about 22 teachers, particularly in the areas of mathematics and other speciality subjects.
Director of Education Lionel Sands, has admitted that the department does not have a sufficient compliment of teachers to teach the subjects of maths, physics, chemistry and several other technical areas.  Sands said the ministry relies on bringing in teachers from abroad.  He added that the ministry offers grants to persons interested in studying the more technical subjects where further assistance is needed.
Meantime, Wilson is also concerned about the dengue fever outbreak.
Thousands of Bahamians have contracted the vector-borne virus over the past two months, and at least one person has died as a result of the virus.
"I want our teachers to be safe.  Since we had the dengue fever outbreak I want to urge the minister of health to ensure that all schools have been sprayed for mosquitos to assist with student safety," Wilson said.
The union president also expressed concern about the schools that will have to open late as a result of damage sustained during Hurricane Irene.  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 today.  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.
Sands told The Nassau Guardian in an interview last week, that 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.
He added 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.
Meantime, Wilson reminded parents and teachers whose school routes are impacted by the massive road works across the island to plan ahead.
"I'm concerned about persons getting to and from school in a timely matter.  I'm hoping that teachers, parents and administrators map out the route so they can get to school on time.  I also want administrators to be lenient with some teachers and some students who have to travel where work is being done.  We have to be aware that it may pose challenges," Wilson said.
BUT is currently in the process on negotiating a new contract with the Ministry of Education.  Wilson said so far the process is going smooth.  She expects negotiations to conclude by the end of October.

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News Article

February 02, 2012
Where do we go from here pt. 1

The Bahamas like many other nations around the world in this 21st century is plagued with socio-economic challenges that seem to stifle the progress of our nation towards the path that leads to the desired level of peace, prosperity and security for our people.  The economy is certainly uppermost in the minds of our people as we tread through these turbulent times with many looking to the government for solutions to our economic woes.  However, there is a growing concern over the increased level of social degradation that we are experiencing as evidenced by the myriad social issues that we are confronted with daily.  Unfortunately, it appears that our young people continue to be the major casualties of this degradation.  This impact on our youth raises the fundamental question: Are we failing our youth and will we continue to lose successive generations of Bahamians to issues such as poor economic policies, inadequate education and social ills?
 
The current circumstance
At the government level, it appears that little progress has been made in improving both our economy and the educational system in our nation.  The inability of the government to diversify our economy to provide more job opportunities for its people is accelerating the increase in our poverty levels.  The recent global economic downturn has highlighted the inefficiencies of our economic model that is based primarily on the service industry with dependence on financial services and tourism.  It also stresses the regressive nature of our tax code and inefficient methods of collecting government revenue.  Most importantly, it reinforces the harsh reality of our gross dependency on the prosperity of the American and European economies.  The more we witness events unfold in The Bahamas, one can't help but wonder whether we are regressing rather than progressing.
Over the last five years alone, our national debt has risen to an astounding $4.5 billion, our debt-to-GDP ratio has increased from some 30 percent to approximately 60 percent.  Our deficit currently stands at more than eight percent and the unemployment rate has doubled during the last few years, contributing to the tremendous amount of foreclosures in our nation.  The government has justified its borrowing as the only alternative course of action to prevent a collapse in the Bahamian economy.  However, one wonders whether this was in fact the only option available and if agreed, if the borrowed funds were invested in a manner that benefitted a wide cross-section of Bahamians or just a select few.  The aforementioned statistics suggest that the funds were arguably mismanaged and invested heavily in infrastructural projects that benefitted a small percentage of contractors and companies while the country witnessed and continues to witness increased social degradation.
Being in a position where it was strapped for cash and with revenues down, the government has made minimal investment in social programs comparative to its investment in infrastructural projects and has significantly increased the tax burden on its people in addition to raising the national debt.  It is common knowledge that investment in key social programs is important for the sustenance of our nation and will help minimize the rising social issues that plague our nation.  Focusing on education, it is a given that an educated Bahamas will position itself to play a more vital role on the global stage.  The general consensus still exists that education in various forms including academic, athletic, social and culture among others, provides an individual with an opportunity to pursue a better way of life.  In The Bahamas, it appears that there are classes of Bahamian children who are being denied adequate education, particularly in the public school system.
 
The need for a better education system
The Department of Statistics' labor force report reveals that two percent of our labor force has had no schooling and six percent has stopped short of a primary education while nine percent of our total work force has not completed secondary education.  The aforesaid percentages suggest that approximately 20 percent of our working population is inadequately equipped academically to compete on a national level, let alone a global level.  There is further evidence that shows that approximately 20 percent of our work force receives a university level education while 10 percent attend some other form of tertiary education.  As a result, 53 percent of our work force attain at the most an education at the secondary level.
Combined with the aforementioned startling statistics is the fact that the national grade average based upon national examination results in 2011 sits at a discontented D average.  Even more disturbing is the fact that the D average includes the private schooling system, which if removed, will probably significantly decrease the national average.  It is reported that the recent examination results evidence that approximately 34 percent of 5,000 plus students sitting the English examination received C or above while some 24 percent who took math received a C or above.  Consequently, 65 percent of our children received an English grade of D or lower while some 75 percent of our children received a grade of D or lower.  The lack of sufficient teachers to teach key subjects such as math, physics, chemistry and other technical courses, has been blamed for these unimpressive statistics.  It is important to ascertain whether sufficient measures are being put in place to encourage more Bahamians to become educators.
In the absence of an aggressive recruitment process, are we exhausting all avenues to engage qualified teachers that will produce the desired results?  Further, what measures are being taken to reduce the overcrowding in our public system to provide for more favorable teacher-student ratios?  If we are serious about preparing the next generation for the future, greater emphasis must be placed upon adequate and quality education of our children.  We must see to it that more of the 53 percent mentioned above have the opportunity to receive tertiary level education and greater opportunities to obtain the same locally.  Of particular note is the long overdue upgrade of The College of The Bahamas to university status.
Investment in infrastructure is absolutely necessary to any society, but a lack of investment in a nation's citizens and, more importantly, the education of its youth will minimize or eradicate any lasting effect of infrastructural development due to a lack of qualified citizens in society with a propensity to increase social ills.  In this regard, it is welcomed news to hear that the Progressive Liberal Party has committed to doubling the budget allocation to education if it wins the next general election; however, such allotment must be dispensed in an effective manner that will produce favorable results in education.
Many believe that our leaders are bankrupt of ideas to address our failing education system.  The curriculum itself is widely believed to be deficient and outdated.  The lack of adequate education among our youth will inevitably lead to a further increase in social issues and will inevitably increase youth engagement in illegal activities such as the drug trade, guns and arms trafficking and anti-social behavior such as gang violence.
A lie has been sold to our children that the perceived rewards of these activities afford them a lifestyle that may otherwise be unattainable by securing an honest job and obtaining a better way of life through conventional norms.  The level of violence among our youth had increased to such an alarming rate that a school-based policing program was initiated by the Christie administration of 2002-2007.  It is worth noting that the current administration canceled the program in 2007.  However, their subsequent realization of the wisdom of the program in the midst of escalating levels of violence in our schools prompted the re-implementation of the program in 2011.  In today's Bahamas, our young people should not be faced with the challenge of having a fear of attending school due to violence among their peers; neither should teachers be afraid to carry out their functions as nation builders in fear of a potential violent backlash.
I believe that what is lacking in our society is an 'all hands on deck' approach in our society by our parents, religious leaders, politicians and civic organizations.  However, we must invest appropriately in the education of our children to acquire the requisite skill-set, diversifying our economy to provide opportunities for both educated and technical Bahamians, taking the necessary steps to reduce our national debt and deficit as well as implementing a progressive tax system in order to move our country forward.
Failure to implement the necessary policies looking at the current environment in which we live begs the questions: Is there light at the end of the tunnel?  Should we hope again?  Will the Bahamian dream be preserved for future generations?  Where do we go from here?
 
oArinthia S. Komolafe is an attorney-at-law.  Comments can be directed at arinthia.komolafe@komolafelaw.com.

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News Article

February 01, 2012
A young man who has his 'head on right'

At first glance, he seems to be like just any other young man his age with the usual air of confidence and a seeming nonchalant attitude, but if you take a closer look and get to know him better, you realize that 15-year-old Brennan Williams is much more than meets the eye. He's smart and he has a passion for saving animals -- particularly cats.
Williams, a ninth-grade student at North Eleuthera High School, was recently recognized at the Ministry of Education's 19th annual national award presentation as co-winner of the best results for the Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) examinations in the government schools, and the male with the best overall BJC results in government schools.
He believes that if young men live in the shadow that society casts upon them, they will never live up to their potential. And he worked hard to prove that he is capable, earning seven A grades in General Science, Health Science, Mathematics, Technical Drawing, Family and Consumer Sciences, Social Studies and Religious Knowledge and a B grade in English Language.
"When I started grade nine I said to myself that I really wanted to do the best in my school when I took the BJCs," he said. "I even thought it would be great to do the best on my island but I didn't imagine that I would get the overall best results in the country for a government school or even a male. It was amazing when I did all of that. To me this proves that nothing is impossible once you are willing to work hard for it."
The honor roll student, who has a grade point average (GPA) of 3.44, has always set the bar high for himself and is glad when he achieves far beyond his expectatons. Due to his determination to outdo himself he does not let the views of society hinder his dreams or dicatate what he can or cannot do. He truly believes nothing is impossible.
Although he has a lot of ambition, he gives credit for his success to his family who he says has always supported him in excelling in everything that he sets his mind to.
His mother, Thakurdaye Williams, a primary school teacher, constantly encourages him to work harder in his weakest subject, English. His father, Brian Williams, an agriculture teacher at his school, helps him with his math and sciences. But he says his greatest motivator was his elder sister Brianne, who never let him take no for an answer and was always interested in her education and discovering new things. He says it was her who pushed him to be the same way too.
"I guess since my parents are teachers and my sister was really smart, great things are expected of me as well. For some this may seem like a lot of pressure but it's a good motivation for me to keep doing better and better," he said. "My sister really pushed me the hardest sometimes. She was a really good student and could explain anything to me. She was valedictorian of our school last school year, and seeing how well she did always encourages me."
Williams adheres to a strict study schedule. He hits the books for at least two hours after school on subjects that are easiest for him. He spends an additional hour on the subject he has the most difficulty with -- English. And the study method that he has found that works best for him is to rewrite all of his notes and repeat what he understands to himself. It's a method he doesn't always stick to as he switches things up so that his study habits don't become monotonous. He sometimes makes up questions to himself so that he can think of all the answers, which he said he's found to be a good way to prepare for exams.
Tutoring students who don't understand something the way he does also helps. He said he's found that it's a good way to ensure that he understands the subject too. But he always prefers a quiet area when he's studying.
Now a tenth-grade student, Williams says it was nice to be recognized for his work during the national awards presentation, but he says that is behind him and his focus in on the future. He aspires to become an aeronautical engineer. Passionate about the field, he has chosen a course of study towards that end, taking optional courses in physics, chemistry and graphical communication.
Williams has not started looking at colleges as yet, but he is doing everything he can to ensure that he's a good candidate for any school he applies to.
But brains aren't everything to the teenager, he also has a passion for animals. When he isn't studying or trying to escape to the beach for a quick swim, his hands are full taking care of the cats in his settlement. He was appalled that people did not take care of their animals, and remembers sneaking strays home to feed and take care of them. He never thought about keeping the animals and always set them free once they were better.
"It really hurts me to see animals not being taken care of properly. I think everyone has a role in helping the animals that live around them," he says."Some of them [animals] just need homes and can be really loyal if you take care of them. I don't like to see them being kicked or abused and I think we all can do something about it."
The tenth-grade student believes it's important for young people to find things they like to do, so that they can develop their personality and discover their strengths. While he does not participate in a lot of extracurricular activities at his school, he makes an effort to participate on the track team.
And he does not feel disadvantaged attending a Family Island school. He says he may not have as many options in classes or after-school activities as students at schools in the capital, but he says he has peace and quiet and that he appreciates every class he does have.
"Students should appreciate every small blessing they have when it comes to their education. Make the best of whatever you have and remember that studying is important, but doing other things in your community or around your school is just as good. Caring about what's going on around you or doing things to develop yourself outside of your school work helps to make you a better person I believe."
Williams encourages students -  particularly young men - to find their niche when it comes to their school work and communities. He said not everyone will be strong in the same areas, nor will they be able to study or enjoy things in the same way. He hopes that in the future he can hear more good news about young men excelling in society instead of hearing about fighting and violence.
To contribute to his dream for young men, Williams is aspiring to continue to excel in his school work by first conquering English and finally earning an A grade.  He hopes to achieve a 4.0 GPA before his high school years end and he also dreams of returning as an awardee in the national awards ceremony for his Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education exam results. He says there is nothing a person can't do if they put their mind to it. And while he dreams big he hopes other young men join him and dream even bigger.

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News Article

August 27, 2014
Do it yourself

There are a whole lot of people who are literally full to the brim with Special and Unique Talents, and who are still not becoming as successful as they should be, simply because A. They do not fully understand how really talented they are, and B. Because they believe that they need a whole lot of other people to open doors for them to just walk through on their way to Success City.
My Friend, once you discover your true identity, which is as I have repeatedly stated over the years in these articles, An Awesomely Talented, Special and Unique 'Child of God' born in His image and likeness and thus know who your really are, you need to stop looking for others to do the work for you, and instead just follow the instructions given to you in today's title and without further procrastination 'Do It Yourself'. Yes indeed, life really is a 'Do It Yourself' project.
I'll give you an example of exactly what I mean. I was attending The University of Metaphysics Annual Convention in Las Vegas a few years ago. Before the opening ceremony by Dr. Masters Founder and President of The University and The National Metaphysical Ministry, I was chatting with another graduate of The University and he asked me what I did. I replied, that I facilitated seminars for corporations all over the world.
He then asked me who my Agent was. When I told him I didn't have an agent, he looked at me in total disbelief, and then asked me how did I get my business. I simply told him, that I marketed myself and my seminars and was thus travelling the world doing what I wanted to do. Yes My Friend, if you really want to get ahead in life, so many times you have to 'Do It Yourself'.
Some time back, I had an agreement with a Syndication Organization in The U.S. to market my radio program to networks and stations throughout The U.S. For a variety of reasons, our arrangement just didn't work out as planned. So I started marketing the program myself using the internet, and right now Time To Think is aired on stations all over the world in The Caribbean, The Pacific, Africa and on Internet Radio Networks with millions of listeners daily.
You My Friend, are most talented and thus more than capable of succeeding than you are perhaps fully aware of. So #1. Believe in yourself and #2. 'Do It Yourself' and you'll succeed beyond your wildest dreams.....I guarantee it!
o Think about it!
Visit my Website at: www.dpaulreilly.com
Listen to 'Time to Think' the radio program on STAR 106.5 FM at 8:55 a.m. & 6:20 p.m.

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News Article

January 31, 2013
St. George's senior students visit Pine Ridge Landfill

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama -- Last week 27 St. George's senior high school students (BGCSE and AP Sciences) of the Academic Sciences Department participated in the field excursion to the Sanitation Services Landfill along with Ms. Simms and Mr. Thurston, Chemistry and Physics Teachers at the school.  
The student trip is in keeping with the school's and the Ministry of Education's overall goals of affording students varied academic viewpoints of the "real" world. This trip focused on the environmental sciences and protection concerns for our natural environment as an area of research and focus.
The tour of the Pine Ridge Landfill site, owned and operated by Sanitation Services, targeted the science department's goals and objectives to explore landfill management and operations, environmental protection, including nuisance odours incidents handling issues and protocols.
Pictured at the tour are the St. George's students, teachers and Jason Albury, Sanitation Services Landfill Manager. (Photo courtesy of Jolissa Rolle for Barefoot Marketing)

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