Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Holy Childhoold celebrates 80 years of solid education

Published:Wednesday | January 25, 2017 | 1:00 AMChristopher Serju
Sister Maxine McIntosh, principal of Holy Childhood High School passes the symbolic torch of educational excellence to sixth former Monique Bailey, a member of the Student Executive Body, during Friday’s commemorative ceremony to mark 80 years of service in education by the Catholic-run institution.
It was a reunion of sorts for Marilyn Headley (right) and Sister Mary Andrew Campbell, general minister, Franciscan Missionary Sisters, as they teamed up to plant one of the eight yellow poui seedlings donated by the Forestry Department. Sister Mary Andrew taught Headley in third form and the 1968 graduate of Holy Childhood is the first female CEO and conservator of forests at the Forestry Department.
After participating in the commemorative ceremony these girls headed to class but insisted on having their picture taken.
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Last Friday, January 20 marked 80 years since Holy Childhood High School opened its doors under the stewardship of founding Principal Sister Francis Maria McLeod of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters order, and the school used its morning devotion to celebrate that milestone in style.

Alumnae representing all eight decades took part in a symbolic torch lighting ceremony, followed by the release of 80 balloons and planting of eight yellow poui trees on the school grounds. The special morning devotion which started at 7:30 was spearheaded by the Alumnae Association and past students and the members of the business community came out in their numbers to support this very special commemorative event. For Principal Sister Maxine McIntosh, who started as a teacher in 2009 and took over the reins in September 1995, it was indeed a joyful occasion.

"I was very happy that we had so many of our stakeholders represented, to share in our joy. As a Franciscan Missionary Sister, I am particularly proud and happy to have been a part of this celebration, because as you know, we founded the school," she shared with The Gleaner.

"I'm the only Sister here now. Over the years, we have had many Sisters as part of the staff, but our numbers have fallen, and so I'm the only Sister here now. So to have been here is a joy, and I am hoping that what we did this morning will be an inspiration to our children - the 'prepsters', as well as the high-school students that they will develop some kind of pride and appreciation for our school and for our rich history and be more committed to its success. They are doing well, but we just wanted to give it a punch," she declared.

A condensed reading of the school's history by three students of the Holy Childhood Preparatory School, followed by a Holy Childhood High student, highlighting the fact that with a population of more than 1,700 students it is a top all-girl school.

In 1937, the first batch of students from the preparatory school, started seven years earlier, were in need of a secondary education institution to build on the strong academic and spiritual foundation they had received at Holy Childhood Preparatory, which was so named in honour of the Christ Child. So it was on January of that year that the high school was started on the same premises of the prep school, adjacent to the convent and Holy Cross Church.

The motto, 'After the Battle, the Reward', was the brainchild of Sister Francis Maria McLeod, who took on the task of principal of both institutions, with the eight girls and two boys in the pioneer batch at the high school. For the first year of existence Holy Childhood High was a co-ed school, a situation which changed in January 1938 when the boys were transferred to St George's College.

Aliandra Carnegie, a student in Grade 9-6, effectively summed up the school's transition and progress since, in her contribution to the history recital.

"Now, here we are 80 years later. Holy Childhood High is a top all-girl school," she said. "Those Sisters battled hard, and we are their reward."