Sat | Dec 4, 2021

Wolmer’s ‘dream year’ inspires to support alma mater

Published:Sunday | November 14, 2021 | 12:08 AM

Toni-Kay Dawkins (right), project coordinator for the “Dream Year Scholarship”, presents a symbolic piggybank to Colleen Montague, Wolmer’s Girls’ School (WGS) Principal, on behalf of the WGS Class of ‘99.
Toni-Kay Dawkins (right), project coordinator for the “Dream Year Scholarship”, presents a symbolic piggybank to Colleen Montague, Wolmer’s Girls’ School (WGS) Principal, on behalf of the WGS Class of ‘99.

Across Jamaica, many parents are struggling to cover the cost of sending their children to school. Adding to the difficulties, the financial assistance they would traditionally receive from educational institutions is no longer available as fundraising efforts have been largely cut due to the pandemic. Looking for ways to deal with this challenging issue, the Wolmer’s Girls’ School Class of ’99 created a scholarship fund to support pupils and to inspire others to give back to their alma mater.

“While attending a recent alumni meeting, I was moved by the reports of limited fundraising activities due to social restrictions and the high number of students with outstanding school fees,” said Santina Johnson, one of the members of the Class of ‘99. “I immediately reached out to my former classmates about making a contribution towards back to school expenses.”

Using WhatsApp, a donation drive was set in motion with the aim of raising an initial target of J$100,500, which would cover a year’s worth of tuition for three students.

EXCEEDED TARGET

As word spread among members of the Class of ’99, affectionately called “Dream Year” by former Principal Pamela Harrison, the ‘not so old’ girls made pledges to provide assistance. Women in Jamaica, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and as far away as New Zealand, many of whom had been out of touch with each other for over a decade, banded together to not only reach their fundraising goal but to exceed it.

Within a short time, 45 members of the “Dream Year” raised J$400,000, close to four times the original target. The funds will be used to fully cover one year of tuition and fees for 10 students, three of which will also receive books and other school materials. The group hopes to make the “Dream Year Scholarship” an annual initiative, further expanding its base of contributors and gradually increasing the size of its yearly donation.

“The Jamaican proverb ‘one one cocoa full basket’ is applicable to the Wolmer’s community”, said Colleen Montague, principal at Wolmer’s Girls’ School. “We are grateful to past and present parents and students who have helped us to continue our students’ education under different circumstances. Similarly, a national effort is required right across our country to help every child, especially in rural areas, where the need is great and the assistance is appreciated,” she said.