Sun | Jan 24, 2021

For our girls - The Queen’s School one of five institutions to win D&G Foundation’s ‘5 for 5’ promotion

Published:Wednesday | January 13, 2021 | 12:14 AM
Dennis Beckford presents the principal of The Queen’s School, Jennifer Williams (centre), and her Dean of Discipline Helen Powell with a cheque for half million dollars following the school’s victory in the Desnoes and Geddes (D&G) Foundation 5 for 5 p
Dennis Beckford presents the principal of The Queen’s School, Jennifer Williams (centre), and her Dean of Discipline Helen Powell with a cheque for half million dollars following the school’s victory in the Desnoes and Geddes (D&G) Foundation 5 for 5 promotion, powered by Malta.

Forced to contend with the cost of adapting to changes brought on by COVID-19, The Queen’s School (Queen’s), like scores of other institutions across the island, had to halt, if not completely abandon, several development projects last year. Thanks to the Desnoes and Geddes (D&G) Foundation and tremendous support from a committed school community, the Kingston-based institution is looking to reclaim some of that momentum.

Queen’s was one of five schools which emerged winners in the D&G Foundation’s ‘5 for 5’ promotion to secure a share of $2.5 million to be used for school improvement. For Principal Jennifer Williams, contrary to popular opinion, funding school projects has been an uphill struggle for Queen’s.

“To outsiders looking in, our school has no obvious need. Yet, those within The Queen’s community know that the reality many of our girls face says otherwise. We know that a lot of them are from less than fortunate backgrounds, their only assets being a determination to use their education to change their circumstances. As teachers, it is our duty to help them shoulder this responsibility, so we are always on the lookout for ways to bolster their efforts,” said Williams.

The administration supports the girls with a welfare programme, catering to those students most in need. A social development programme allows them to implement more targeted interventions for at-risk students, while the school’s enhancement programme focuses on providing the best educational resources for the girls.

COLLECTIVE EFFORT

Driven by the needs of the school, The Queen’s principal jumped at the opportunity presented by the D&G Foundation’s initiative, which was powered by Malta. Schools from across the island uploaded videos online explaining how their institution would stand to benefit from the prize of $500,000. The winning schools were determined by the number of votes they received from fans and followers on Facebook and Instagram.

The Queen’s School Dean of Discipline Helen Powell explained that it took some effort to rally the troops and get them to vote.

“Getting our school across the finish line took tremendous collective effort. Within days of hearing about the competition, we immediately reached out to members within the community – our past students, our parents and our close associates. We worked tirelessly to ensure that reminders to vote were sent out within every social media group possible. While I mobilised the team, it was the sense of duty to our girls, shared by the entire Queen’s community, that really led us to victory. We are beyond grateful.”

In addition to The Queen’s School, Merl Grove High, Denbigh High, Westwood High and Silverstone Basic School in St Catherine also won $500,000. Each school has earmarked the grant for ongoing school improvement projects following major budgetary setbacks experienced during the pandemic.

“COVID-19 has amplified the challenges in our schools. We don’t have to look far to see that need abounds,” said Dennis Beckford, accountant at the D&G Foundation. “We want to not only contribute to the collective effort of helping our schools navigate this period, but also to bring awareness to the wider public as to the extent that they’ve been impacted and their determination to overcome. If nothing else, the new year should see more schools on good footing, ready and equipped to carry out the vision of ‘no child being left behind’.”