Anastasia Cunningham, Senior Gleaner Writer
The excellent, inspirational, energetic cultural performance of the students of Glenmuir High and St Richard's Primary schools yesterday ideally captured the message educators want to convey going forward for the new school year.
Their performance, with its underlying message, brought tears to many and lit up the church hall of St Richard's Primary in Kingston, as it inspired, energised, gave hope, encouraged and challenged students, teachers, educators and stakeholders to make the 2011-2012 school year one of tremendous possibilities and promise.
Minister of Education Andrew Holness later shared that "during the performance, I was tempted to reach for my handkerchief in my back pocket, but it wouldn't be manly, so I had to fight back the tears".
As Opposition Spokesman on Education Ronald Thwaites put it, "the searching honesty in the eyes of the children here must seize us with the importance of this day".
Indeed, the bright-eyed students were full of hope and aspiration, an indication of what they were looking forward to in a new chapter of their education.
Joined by key stakeholders in education, they launched the 2011-2012 school year under the theme 'Education: Inspiring Minds, Advancing Knowledge, Shaping the Nation' with much pomp and vigour.
The grade-one students of St Richard's were even more eager as they listened attentively, quite absorbed in the story of 'Clifford's First Day at School' that was being read to them by Holness.
Occasionally bursting into laughter, shooting questions about the story, Mykela, Kimara, Jahkisha, Jordon and classmates literally latched on to the minister as he walked along the aisles in their classroom dramatising Clifford's story.
Burst of laughter
When Clifford the Mascot joined them in person, bringing to life his story, they burst with excitement, bringing laughter to the room.
During the official ceremony, the education minister shared that the main reason he chose St Richard's to launch the new school year was because "despite the challenge of your location and despite the challenge of the community in which the school is located; despite having a challenging clientele, and I use that term because I want the educators to start seeing their children as clients that they serve; despite having a limited budget, I looked at the statistics of the last 10 years and there was not a year that this school has not produced a scholarship winner at the GSAT (Grade Six Achievement Test)".
Expressing his passion for seeing every Jamaican literate, Holness challenged everyone to latch on to the vision and do their best to help make it possible.
Karl Samuda, member of parliament for St Andrew North Central, in whose constituency St Richard's falls, said the progress made at the school came through the efforts of the teaching staff, which deserved to be emulated at other schools.