Wealthy Montegonians developing private academy
Michele Rollins and her family have committed 13 acres of prime property at Rose Hall. Adam Stewart has been drafted as chairman. And the Spanish-Jamaican Foundation (SPJF) is throwing its weight behind Montego Bay's first private international academy.
Construction of the Rose Hall Academy and International School, on which the partners are spending US$1.5 million, will break ground next January.
They are shooting for an opening date for the school in September 2018, said Stewart at the signing of a memorandum of understanding for the academy.
Local architect, Design HQ, which is owned by Isiaa Madden, will design the school pro bono.
"Already, we have received pledges, which amount to half of a million US dollars," Stewart said at Thursday's signing ceremony.
The partners hope to raise the rest of the money through fundraising, locally and internationally.
Stewart, the CEO of hotel chain Sandals Resorts International, said that with Montego Bay being the fastest growing city in the last six years, the city's capacity to manage the advancement needed to be revisited.
"Sustainable growth requires a symbiotic, systematic and continued infrastructural development. Educational infrastructure is one such key component," he said.
His comments come on the heels of several MoBay families moving their children to cities such as Kingston, Miami, Toronto and Hartford for schooling as soon as they reach high-school age.
Stewart blames the absence of attractive options for the loss of human capital, resulting from families being forced to move house.
"The Rose Hall Academy will meet this demand with the provision of a first-world multicultural privately run educational facility, accepting students from grades seven through 12," he said.
"It will be about 1,000 feet above sea level, offering possibly the most spectacular view any school could offer in the western hemisphere."
The academy is being built above the Cinnamon Hill Golf Course.
At the core, the ethos of the Rose Hall Academy will be one centred on holistic learning and CARICOM and international academic, complemented by multifaceted extra-curricular activities encouraging leadership, character and community service, and embracing cultural diversity, the chairman said.
Through the SPJF partnership, the students will have access to the Real Madrid Football Academy which was implemented in 2010. This will become a feature of the schools' non-academic offerings.
Lauding the project, Michele Rollins said that after 50 years in Jamaica her family does not often get to partner with people that really care about the most important aspect of the country.
"And that's our children, the children who are Jamaica's future," she said, noting that such a project has been a dream she always had, but never had the energy and the courage to get started.
Minister Without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, Dr Horace Chang, in his endorsement of the project, said the dearth of educational infrastructure academy has been a long-standing challenge for some of the investors who relocate to the in the rapidly growing tourism capital.
"Many have had to send their 11-year-olds to schools miles away from home and nobody likes this," said Chang.
The Rose Hall Academy, which is a registered organisation with charitable status, will accommodate 60 to 80 students initially.