New high school ready to open in Mandeville
Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
For the start of the 2014-2015 academic year, central Jamaica's education system will be further bolstered by the opening of a new institution, the Mount Saint Joseph Catholic High School in Mandeville, Manchester.
The institution, a collaborative effort between the Diocese of Mandeville and the Sisters of Mercy, will be a grant-aided denominational school that will seek expertise and advice from Campion College, one of St Andrew's top high schools.
In mid-2013, a request was made by the Ministry of Education to the Roman Catholic bishop of Mandeville, the Most Reverend Neil Tiedemann, to consider adding much-needed high-school places in Mandeville.
According to Marcia Tai Chun, chairman of the school's board, in response, the bishop invited a group of persons to consider the establishment of a Catholic high school in Mandeville.
"These deliberations went on for several months and the team made their recommendation to the bishop at the end of 2013, to establish a high school. The team then commenced working with the Ministry of Education to plan the school for a September 2014 opening," Tai Chun said.
LATIN PART OF CURRICULUM
The Mount Saint Joseph Catholic High School will start by offering first- and sixth-form classes that will utilise the curriculum administered at Campion College. This also includes Latin in grade seven, expert teacher input - especially in science subjects - and the implementation of the new Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination digital media subject.
"We aim to follow in the tradition of high performance and discipline demonstrated by Catholic educational institutions in Jamaica. The school will seek to follow best practices and will work with other Catholic high schools in Jamaica to ensure the success of the school as a centre of excellence," Tai Chun said.
According to Tai Chun, when the decision was made to establish the school, they sought partners who were centres of excellence. Campion College representatives were part of the design team and helped to guide the deliberations and plans.
"We want to ensure that our students achieve their highest potential. In this regard, a strong partnership between home and school is critical for academic and intellectual growth and the character development of our students. We will maintain high expectations for our staff and we are committed to providing our students with a supportive learning environment, a curriculum which is aimed at the development of 21st-century skills, and a vibrant extracurricular programme," Tai Chun said.
Sheryl-Ann Gayle, principal of the institution, says there will only be 30 students per class and there will be six streams. The school will start with grade seven and lower sixth form, and streams will be added every year for the next five years. The institution is now inviting interested students to register for sixth form. The grade-seven students have been placed based on the Grade Six Achievement Test placement process.
"We have tried to recruit staff and teachers who share the vision for a school of excellence, where every child will be challenged and encouraged and supported to give of their best and be the best that they can be," Gayle said.
The school will officially open on September 1, but orientation for parents and students begins on August 28. The school is located partially on land at Mount St Joseph Preparatory School and St Paul of the Cross Church.
Tai Chun made it clear that the proposed high school would not in any way interfere with the existing preparatory school, but would be accommodated alongside it. She said existing buildings not being used by the prep school would be made available, and there is land available for further construction.