Karen Sudu, Gleaner Writer
BOG WALK, St Catherine:DESPITE A number of challenges, Patrick Phillips, principal of Bog Walk High School in St Catherine, remains relentless in his quest to initiate and implement programmes and projects geared at developing all facets of his students.
In fact, Phillips, vice-principals Pauline Hines and Vincent Mitchell, and staff members of the institution, established as a junior secondary school in 1970, have committed themselves to producing rounded and creative students who can make significant contributions to the society.
The latest initiative is being undertaken through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the institution and the Jamaican-German Automotive School (JAGAS).
"We will now be working with Bog Walk High as it relates to the delivery of automotive competencies. Also, we will provide an opportunity for the students to be exposed to the type of delivery offered at HEART Trust/NTA JAGAS," Kevin Baxter, acting manager of JAGAS, which was established under HEART Trust/NTA in 1994, told The Gleaner after the signing of the MOU on Monday.
An elated Phillips added: "Experts from JAGAS will come to the school to guide teachers and influence students in the option area of auto mechanics. After completion of their secondary level of the automotive programme, these students will automatically filter into the JAGAS educational system."
He pointed out that a great deal of emphasis was being placed on the auto mechanics department, which would embark on a driving-education programmme shortly.
"We have built a car ramp where shortly, members of the community will be able to take in their vehicles and have an engine and undercarriage wash done at a minimal cost, which will enable the auto mechanics students to earn a stipend while they learn the rudiments of car care," he explained.
The institution has also joined forces with the National Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) to boost the agricultural science department, which, over the years, has been boasting 98 to 100 per cent passes in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations.
DBJ, under its grant funding programme, has donated more than $300,000 to the school to undertake a horticultural project.
"The project is a propagating unit. This propagating unit will allow students and teachers to experiment in propagation of plants - meaning, reproducing plants by cutting, grafting asexually. These students will experiment; they will learn the techniques," Melissa White, head of the Agricultural Science Department, explained to The Gleaner.
But it is not only the 60 students currently pursuing the subject and teachers who will benefit.
"This funding will help us to form some sort of partnership with the community as well, producing material for the external community as well as for the internal community," Kenneth McNeil, agriculture teacher who accepted the cheque at the handover ceremony on Monday, told The Gleaner.
Everton McFadden, account executive, DBJ, who presented the cheque, said more than 70 schools islandwide had benefited from grant funding since his entity established the programme six years ago.
"A school can get up to $500,000 as grant funding. What we do is assess the project and see what it will cost, and schools can only benefit once," he explained.
Notably, the school board has been one of the driving forces behind the success of the institution, which was upgraded to a high school in 2000.
Recently, Everard 'Lance' Chung, vice-chairman, solicited a well-needed wheelchair, which he handed over to the institution through the Kiwanis Club of Linstead on Monday.
"I saw the need for a wheelchair and a stretcher, so I sourced it from my colleagues overseas. This chair is a multi-purpose wheelchair. It can be used as a stretcher, it can be reclined, and the sides can be removed," explained Chung.
For this donation, the principal is grateful. While he commended Chung for his effort, he also heaped high praises on the teachers for their dedication to ensuring that the students not only excelled in academics, but also in other areas.
"We've copped several gold and silver medals in the JCDC Festival competitions and have performed creditably in TVJ's All Together Sing Competition as well as CVM's Band Competition, where we won the top spot within our division," the proud principal of the institution for the last five years said.
In the area of sports, Jevaughn Minzie and Renardo Wilson have been the school's recent successes, both athletes representing Jamaica at the CAC Games in 2012.