Sat | Jul 22, 2017

Denham Town Primary: Beacon in Western Kingston

Published:Monday | July 17, 2017 | 7:00 AMChristopher Serju
Eugenie Brown, principal of the Denham Town Primary School, speaks with The Gleaner on Thursday.

The impressive showing by Denham Town Primary School at last Tuesday's awards ceremony for the Youth Gambling Prevention All-Island Prevention Poster Competition 2017, where, after two students tied for first, the western Kingston-based school went on to take second, fourth, eighth, ninth and tie for 10th with a team from Immaculate Conception High School, was achieved against serious odds.

This is what makes

the school's dominance so rewarding for Principal Eugenie Brown, who told The Gleaner that Denham Town Primary does not have an art department or a specialist teacher in that subject.

"I am so proud of them to really put Denham Town Primary on the map again. People underestimate the talents of our children because they are in the west and all they hear is negatives, the violence happening in the area. Of course, this does affect the children, but good things are happening here," Brown told The Gleaner on Thursday.

EXCELLING IN GSAT

Academics is another area in which the students are doing well, as evidenced by the recent showing in the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) with boys occupying the first seven positions in the top-10 showing for the school.

This achievement has been rewarded by corporate entities, which have given scholarships to a number of the school's brightest sparks.

One company opened bank accounts for all of the fifth and sixth-grade students - more than 200 of them - while another company has offered scholarships to the top boy and girl.

Brown recalled with pride the school's showing at this year's primary school sports championships, despite being unable to achieve any podium placements.

"As you realise, we don't have a playfield, nothing to practice on, but they reached the semi-finals. They just practised right here on the asphalt surface, which serves as the school yard, parking lot and playground. And if we practise right here and got to the semi-finals, and we don't have a PE teacher ... , with the limited resources that we have, I think we are shining and, against all the odds, we are putting it to good use."

... Relationship with community key

to success

For the 637 students, 20 teachers, two guidance counsellors, principal, ancillary and other staff who make up the Denham Town Primary School population, a good relationship with the wider community has been instrumental to its ongoing success.

"We have a good relationship with the community in terms of the police, neighbouring schools and so on. We go to their graduations, we participate in their activities. For our last graduation, we didn't have a band of our own, so we used the Tivoli High School band and their instruments and the principal came up. Denham Town High School's principal came over as well, so we support each other in whatever (we do)," said Principal Eugenie Brown.

NOT AFRAID OF POLICE

"The police station, we have a very good relationship with them. Not because there is a need here, but we just build relationships. So they will come over at times, just to check if we are alright. We go over and check if they are alright, too. If they have a death, we go and support in whatever way we can. Our children have a very good relationship with the police. They are not afraid of the police because the police are here regularly - just to sit and interact with them, talk, participate in devotion."

Another notable long-term relationship which benefits the school is the one with the G.C. Foster College of Physical Education in St Catherine.

"When they have their students on internship for the first term, they come here and assist us and then the next term, they stay on and help us on Saturdays. They are the ones who help us to train for Champs," Brown told The Gleaner.

Denham Town Primary also benefits from the time and talent of students of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.

Things are looking up for this school located in a violence-prone section of the Corporate Area, where hard-working teachers continue to inspire young minds bent on excelling despite the daily challenges.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com