ABC Learning Centre celebrates 20th anniversary
Claudia Gardner, Assignment Coordinator
WESTERN BUREAU:The ABC Learning Centre in Green Island, Hanover, celebrated its 20th anniversary with a series of activities last week.
The celebrations included a church service and prize-giving ceremony at the Green Island United Church on Sunday afternoon and a fun day last Thursday. Principal and founder of the school Marcia Allen told Western Focus that Sunday night's event was a success.
"It was supported by scores of persons including principals of primary schools, past and present students and parents and community members," she said. "Many past students, who are now adults, came back and gave their support."
Allen said she was pleased with the 20 years the institution had spent developing the minds of small children from within the Green Island area and its environs.
"The school has been very, very successful over the years. We started out with 15 students and now we are at 95. Students who have left the school and gone on to primary schools have done very well, based on the feedback we have had from the principals," she said.
"Many have gone on to become teachers. Some are at the University of the West Indies, and colleges such as Moneague and Bethlehem teachers' colleges, and we have one past student from our first batch who is now a member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. They are scattered all over; some have migrated," Allen added.
The ABC learning Centre is a feeder school to several primary schools in the westernmost part of Hanover, namely Kendal, Cove, Green Island and Pell River primary schools, the March Town and Harding Hall preparatory schools, as well as the Cave Valley and the Negril all-age schools.
Allen recounted to Western Focus how the school rose from an old abandoned building to become one of Hanover's most sought after early-childhood institutions.
"I was sitting on my verandah and I saw some little basic-school-age children playing in the field, who live around the area and the idea came to me. I thought about it and I said to myself that the building was just sitting there, it was old, it was vandalised, goats occupied the building and the vision came then and there. That was in 1993," she explained.
"I wrote to Ben Clare, who was the member of parliament at the time, asking him about the building and, within a week, he responded saying we could go ahead and occupy it as it wasn't really owned by anybody. The property owner had built it for his workers and so after they left, the building was just here. Persons referred to it as a community centre, but it was not maintained as a community centre, it was there, abandoned. I used the whole year to fix it up and got it ready for September 1994. We started out with just 10 students and by the end of the term, we had 25, and one teacher and myself," she said.
She added: "I was still working part-time, but I worked on shift. When I wasn't working, I would be here, then I would leave the other teacher because the funding came from my salary, so I didn't give up my job when I started the school."
Allen said the school has a strong and active Parent-Teacher Association and that the school has been undergoing some renovations and expansions, including the construction of a new classroom.
"We are doing additions to the building so that the facility can be more comfortable for the students, because we have actually outgrown our facility. We are also building some more bathrooms," she said.
"We have an extension programme, offering CSEC English, mathematics, principles of business, human and social biology, principles of accounts, social studies, office administration, and we also offer CAPE Communication Studies and Caribbean Studies," Allen said.