School-leaving with a difference at Bethel Primary
Thanks to innovation, the COVID-19 pandemic did not spoil the school-leaving exercise for the grade-six students at Bethel Primary School in Hopewell as in place of the traditional ceremony, the students did a ‘walk-through’ on Thursday inside the school’s auditorium.
“What we are having are four walk-up school-leaving exercises,” Jasmin Beckford-Johnson, the school’s principal, told The Gleaner. “We have four grade-six classes, totalling 112 students. We have each class group coming in at specific times throughout the day, and all we do is have the students walk in, take their photographs, and then we hand them a package.
“The packages contain their school-leaving certificate, their recommendation letter to take to the high school, their Primary Exit Profile exam results sheet, and their final report. The report is on coursework done between September and March, and then some online assessments. We take their photograph, and they exit and go home, so we are adhering to the social-distancing guidelines,” added Beckford-Johnson.
In her address to the students in each group, Johnson appealed to them to do their best in their new schools come September, telling them that they have all benefited from a good foundation and should portray themselves as leaders and not be mere followers.
“You must make sure that your teachers (at high school) see you as high-functioning students in whatever subjects you decide to pursue. Whatever skills you decide to do, pursue them with diligence and hard work. Be dedicated to every task, always remembering that you are among the best. You are Jamaica’s future, and no one can stop you unless you want them to,” the principal said.
In an interview with The Gleaner, Beckford-Johnson pointed out that most of the students from Bethel Primary School had earned a place in their first-choice school, noting that students had been placed in several traditional high schools across the island.
“Our students have done so well; we are extremely proud of them. They have been placed in high schools throughout Hanover, St James, and even as far as Kingston. We have one student whose first choice was Jamaica College, and he was placed there. Our head girl was placed at Hampton High School, and quite a few of our footballers were placed at Cornwall College; that was the school of their choice,” said the principal.
Noting that up to 70 per cent of the Bethel Primary students had been accessing online tutoring during the period of lockdown, Beckford-Johnson said she was confident that those students moving on to high schools would be able to cope with the new environment at that level.