Daviot Kelly and Rasbert Turner, Gleaner Writers
IT WAS a sombre mood at Old Harbour High School on Monday, the first full day of classes since the death of teacher Michael Melbourne.
Red-eyed staff were being counselled when The Gleaner visited the school shortly after 8 a.m. Principal Lynton Weir, who admitted he was having trouble keeping it together, said a special devotion was held for Melbourne, who was mobbed and killed on Friday night after accidentally hitting pedestrians with his motor vehicle.
"It is really taking a toll on all of us. It is very difficult to counsel individuals when it comes to death. What do you say to them?" said Weir. He described Melbourne as his "very good friend" and the manner of his death was hard to accept.
"It is nasty, it is poor and it is very barbaric! As a country, we can't continue like this," he said. "When you look at Jamaica, we could be much more successful if we were a little bit more caring."
Weir said he was baffled that no one came to Melbourne's aid.
"When you look at the community, don't tell me nobody knew the man! This man has been here for years. They must know him. There was nobody to say, 'Let the law take its course?'" he asked. "It cannot be a situation where we are going back to the Old Testament and say it's an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."
No 'justice' at all
He decried the "jungle justice" mentality, opining the wave of emotion stemming from incidents like the recent rape of five females in Irwin, St James, which have people "on edge".
"What happened there was terrible. But right now, it's as if the country is on alert and here it is. It was meted out to the teacher, an educator."
Weir noted that Melbourne had just started a master's degree, an indication he was bettering himself to better serve students.
"He was always seeking new methods of teaching," he said.
The last time he spoke to Melbourne was to sign approval for a loan for the studies. Weir made a commitment to fully assist any of Melbourne's younger children who are placed at Old Harbour High School.
Head of the Guidance and Counselling Department, Basil Jackson, said they were going to each class giving support.
"We have sessions planned for the rest of the week, especially students of the lower school who come in on the afternoon shift because those were mainly the students he taught." He said it was like a dark cloud over the school.
"We are grateful we have counsellors from other schools here today and as the week progresses, we will still lean on these individuals."