Mark Wignall | Schoolchildren and sex song videos
Grade 10 in high school can be a pleasurable place in terms of deeper involvement in academic work, athletic pursuits, bonding with friends, getting to know the opposite sex, and thinking seriously about a career path.
Other times, if a child is totally undisciplined and prone to peer pressure of the worst sort, grade 10 could also be that point where the child begins to say goodbye to a high-school education. But grade 10 can also offer redemption to children who are generally quite foolish and ignorant in the ways of the world, especially in matters of sex.
When I was in fourth form (grade 10) at Kingston College (KC) in the 1960s, there was a certain character who was a great spinner of tales. Bear in mind that high-school boys are notorious liars, especially as it relates to inventing sexual escapades, so to say that that character stood out in spinning tales will give you more than a glimpse into his make-up.
I shall call him Vic. Early one Monday morning, about five of us are gathered under a tree watching Vic. He is into various stages of controlled contortions. What is wrong with him? Proudly, he tells us that he has caught 'crabs', otherwise known as crab lice, nasty little bugs on the genital area caught mostly by sexual contact.
Very few of us were having sexual contact with anyone, but I, for one, carried a condom in my wallet until the paper covering cracked for extended lack of use. Watching Vic, though, got us quite envious, and we all wished that we could get that great opportunity to contort, itch and scratch. We wanted all our peers to believe that we were having sex, lots of it, and we were just itching for a scratch.
I say all of that as an opening to the viral video involving a few students from St Catherine High. Grade 10 girls and boys foolishly talking about what they would do for sex in response to a well-known video challenge popular in the USA. What was really galling was the shamelessness or just rank stupidity in appearing on camera in their school uniforms with their school decals in full view.
Even if their foolish heads could not summon enough forethought to know that the video would eventually place them in hot water, certainly they ought to have known that at the very least, they could have protected the school by covering the decals (which appear sown on).
When a few of us at KC decided to be wayward and would go off on adventures outside of school hours, the least we would do is take off our KC ties and fold them neatly away in a back pocket.
The students have been suspended, so there is hope for them. And, of course, they will have to deal with their parents. Hope there are no murderous beatings.
When sports trumps education
When Timmy took his GSAT exam at Red Hills Primary in 2007, among his picks of high schools were two of the big four high schools known for prowess in Champs and in Manning Cup.
Timmy didn't get his pick and was placed at Edith Dalton James School in 2008, not a bad school by any means, but certainly nowhere in the league of the 'brand-name' schools that all primary and prep students hunger for.
Timmy's mother does domestic work and his father is a car body repairman. They were no longer in a relationship when scouts from the big three schools started making enquiries about Timmy, who was quite a speedster on the field at Edith Dalton James school.
"I don't have it, and I hardly get any help from him father," said Timmy's mother to me recently. In 2011, one of the offers from the big three convinced her to give over her son to the school. Two things would be obvious in the deal.
One, Edith Dalton James would never get any credit for bringing out the talent in Timmy, and his new school would be actually displacing at least one student at that brand-name school who had been hitting the books but was cherishing the real possibility of making the track team.
"I couldn't pay my rent on a regular basis. The man seh dem will help mi fi a year wid di rent. Plus, dem give Tim lunch money and books, everyting."
Timmy was never a winner at Champs for the school that poached him, but he did manage to muster three CSEC passes when he 'graduated' in 2015.
He has not worked for the past two years and is living with his mother.
"Di only ting which bodder me now is dat him might get himself mix up wid some bad company. Luckily, sometime him 'mongst him father and him learning a likkle trade.'
UNFAIR ADVANTAGE - EDITH DALTON JAMES PRINCIPAL
"Listen, I understand what the individual parent is going through and how they cannot afford to refuse these attractive offers from the well-known schools with big sporting budgets. Right now, I am ensuring that all of my students on the football team are doing at least five CSEC subjects.
"Many of the mothers and fathers cannot see down the road. The vast majority of student athletes do not make it into the big time, and they tend to live a hard life as adults," said Mr Orlando Worges, principal of Edith Dalton James High, when we spoke last week.
Another principal of a non-brand-name school whose student athletes have been regularly poached did not want his name attached to some of what he told me. "I am not joking or making fun of them, but you ever notice how many of the loader men can run fast? I know some of them were my student athletes who accepted offers from the big sporting schools. Now they are still sprinting in another arena."
FEW SUCCESSES, MANY FAILURES
Ever since Dr Lascelve 'Muggy' Graham (in his youth, a wizard and 'star baller' at St George's College and a Jamaica football captain) began to speak and write about the matter of the brand-name high schools with sporting prowess poaching on the talent of student athletes in other lesser-known schools, a can of worms was opened.
It has been Graham's consistent view that a high-school education should be first about education of the youngster, and second, getting in as many extra-curricular activities as possible, including football and track, if the talent and desire is there.
"Every time an athlete is poached and brought in, it displaces a student who was doing all of the right things; studying hard and hoping to make the school team in that sport," insists Graham.
"We are at a great disadvantage," Mr Worges told me. "We ask the parent to contribute $11,000 per year per student and we are getting, at best, 60 per cent compliance. The big brand-name schools, they are asking $20,000 plus, and they have their very active old students' association.
"We have a lot of equality in this society, but little equity. The big schools have the coaches negotiating, whether it is books or lunch money. It happens," said the principal.
Timmy's father tells me of his son's classmate who was also poached the same year and is at a community college abroad. "Well, you dun tell mi that he was not too much into books," I say to him. "But the truth is, not a lot of them even make it that far."
There is a much bigger story to tell, and it involves many of these student athletes struggling as adults and ruing the move they made when their parents negotiated for a 'quick food'.