Karen Sudu, Gleaner Writer
GLENGOFFE, St Catherine: LIKE HE did last school year, George Moodie is continuing his drive to ensure that students attending his institution understand the relationship between proper nutrition and learning.
It's for this reason that the Grateful Hill Primary School principal has been placing much emphasis on eating healthy.
"Our lunch is a balanced meal, because every day we ensure that they receive a protein, a carbohydrate and vegetables. We are not trying only to let them have food, but food of substance," he told The Gleaner.
Likewise, the aim is to diversify the menu.
"We are trying to take them away from the customary rice or rice and peas. Last school year, we put in a crop of sweet potatoes, and in May we reaped potatoes to prepare lunch for our students. We also reaped corn last year, so students were also able to get that," explained an upbeat Moodie.
He added: "We also want to introduce things like ackee, roasted breadfruits, whatever is in season. We have been planting some bananas, plantains and cassava."
thrust for self-reliance
Furthermore, this is a part of the institution's thrust, as it seeks to become self-reliant. The move has received the backing of the Jamaica 4H club.
"In July, the Jamaica 4H club gave us 300 chickens as a self-generating project and the watchmen took care of these chickens and they were ready at the start the school year, so actually we are trying our best to feed ourselves," he remarked.
Karlene Wright, whose grand-daughter is a grade two student has lauded Moodie for his vision.
"This is wonderful and the way to go instead of giving the children rice, rice, rice everyday, it's good to give them a variety. Mr Moodie has been doing a wonderful job, since he came here," said an appreciative Wright.
In addition to making the school self-reliant, Moodie, principal since last year August, is on a path of rebranding the institution located in the deep rural community of Glengoffe, which has been affected by student migration.
"As it is, this school can accommodate 500 students comfortably, but we now have 190 on roll,"explained Moodie.
Notably, half of the 14 staff members at the institution, which has produced outstanding alumni like Owen Ellington, Commissioner of Police, Leslie Campbell, lawyer and Granville Valentine, trade unionist are past students.
"I am actually teaching in the exact class that I was in when I was a grade five student, so it brings back a lot of memories," said Thaeann Smikle, who pursued tertiary training at Shortwood Teachers' College and the University of Technology.
Both Smikle and Shannon Dobney obtained secondary education at Oberlin High School after they left Grateful Hill. However, Smikle attended St Joseph's Teachers' College.
"It feels great to come back and impart. When I was coming here, we didn't have many activities like now where we are involved in sports and other activities," Dobney told The Gleaner.
Another outstanding alumnus is the late Professor Barry Chevannes and October 18 will be designated Professor Barry Chevannes Day. Moodie said this will be a fixed event on the school's calendar.
"The child we save today can be the one who lifts this country tomorrow. When one can impact young lives to motivate them to do well, it's a great feeling," said Moodie.
no playing field
But even as the 142-year-old school has been through several transitions, it still lacks a playing field. Notwithstanding this, it has participated in the LIME Primary school football competition, as well as the 2012 INSPORT/ Swizzle Primary School Track and Field championships.
"We entered The Gleaner's Children's Own Spelling Bee competition for the first time last year and we placed 28th out of 59 schools. We won a bronze medal in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission dance competition last year," Moodie, also a marriage officer said proudly.
In fact, over the years, students have also excelled in the Grade Six Achievement Test.
"Twenty-three students sat the exam last school year, one was placed at The Queens, one at Merl Grove, eight at Oberlin High, seven at St Mary's College, one at Bog Walk High, two at Constant Spring High and three at Stony Hill Primary and Junior High," he listed.
Of course, Moodie and his staff are striving for greater success and are moving to use information technology to enhance the delivery of lessons. Hence, he is grateful to Food for the Poor for its donation of 12 monitors and two CPUs.