Christopher Thomas, Gleaner Writer
The community of Norwood, in St James, which has been sullied by a reputation for violence over the years, was given a light of hope with the official opening of the Call to Excellence Basic School, last Thursday.
The school, which was completed earlier this month through the Jamaica Social Investment Fund's (JSIF) Poverty Reduction Programme, at a cost of approximately $13.6 million, had its sign-over ceremony on the grounds of the institution, with students, members of staff, and JSIF representatives present to tour the facility afterwards.
"I can say that it is really a pleasure to see this schoolhouse here, and my thanks to JSIF and the Poverty Reduction Programme for what has been done in renovating this building to house the Call to Excellence Basic School," said Call to Excellence board chairman Beverly Fagan.
The school's construction started in 2011, out of a need to provide an educational facility for the young children of Norwood, who up to that time had been receiving schooling from current principal Joy Jeannite out of her own home since 2001. Today, the school caters to 50 students and employs five teachers.
"Call to Excellence Basic School started out of a heart of love for children. It was heart-rending, moving into this community and seeing children running up and down during school time, and I decided I would seek permission from their parents and I would teach them," said Jeannite. "I taught them for a few months, and we moved into the basement of our house and today here we are under this big beautiful building."
Anthony Henry, councillor for the St James North Western division, in which Norwood falls, said the school's official opening marked an important time in the community's development.
"I want to say that, as for Norwood, we are moving full speed ahead to eradicate the negative stigma from Norwood," said Henry. "This school is a value-added asset to the community of Norwood. We believe in Norwood, and we believe in the children, and I would like to express our sincere gratitude to JSIF, on behalf of the community."