New day for New Forest
When the bell rings, signalling the start of a new term at New Forest Primary and Junior High and Infant School, it will mark the start of a transformation.
That transformation will see New Forest adding a high-school component. Principal of the Manchester-based institution, Arnaldo Allen, explained how the process would work.
"The school will operate as a high school," he said. "The idea is that the other sections remain until we build out and are able to separate." He said the decision was taken in response to a request made by the board, staff, and parents of the New Forest community.
"The school will be in a position to offer the high-school curriculum to students in and around the environs, thus aiding parents/guardians with the opportunity of accessing quality secondary education for their children at affordable costs," Allen said.
"In addition, the opportunity will be available for a highly qualified team of secondary-trained professionals to finally hone their skills and impact our educational landscape."
change to benefit all
Chair of the New Forest schools' board, Trisha Williams-Singh, noted that some students had to travel long distances to a high school in the rural area, hence the lobby for high-school status. Allen pointed to other ways the change will benefit the school, its staff and, most important, the students.
"We will be able to offer additional subjects, our labs will be upgraded, we will be getting a school nurse, we will be able to participate in all Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association-run competitions, and we will also be able to participate in the Schools' Challenge Quiz," he said.
The community of New Forest is located in South Manchester along the main road leading from Gutters to Alligator Pond. As the sole school, New Forest has been providing educational opportunities for all the children of the community and adjacent districts. The school was constructed in 1948 as an elementary educational institution.
As for a new name, Allen, who has been principal since 2009, said the ministry's policy is to have the name of school changed when it is gazetted. The new component comes with a new look and all the students entering the high school will wear navy blue and grey.
"In addition, the colour of the school is now being changed from calypso pink and tile red, to ink pad, blue jeans and silver," he said. And New Forest will no longer be operating as a shift school. It will now be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. He is confident everything will be in place for the start of the school year on September 7.
It has been an eventful last few years for the institution. In November 2013, the school established a 6,000 square-foot greenhouse with a donation of $2.7 million from the Digicel Foundation. The first crops were planted in January of last year and were fully yielded last November.
Earnings from the produce have seen a promising reduction in school expenses. The school is also underdoing a renewable-energy project to potentially cut electricity costs with the introduction of solar power.