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New Hope for Airy Castle Primary as Digicel Foundation steps in

Published:Thursday | August 31, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Fitzroy Clarke engages students in his classrooms with fractions display, one of the classroom manipulatives purchased with donations from The Digicel Foundation. 
Principal of Airy Castle Primary School Dawn Graham, demonstrates the use of manipulatives provided by The Digicel Foundation.

Getting the fire-damaged Airy Castle Primary School in St Thomas back to normal took another big step recently with a donation of $200,000 from the Digicel Foundation through its Mek-A-Muckle grant-funding programme.

The funds will go towards restoration efforts since a major fire damaged the school's computer lab, resource room, library and canteen in February.

"Nothing is more important to us than supporting Airy Castle in its time of need. The school serves more than just students on roll; it supports members of the surrounding farming community who also depend on the facilities that were affected by the fire. That's why we've stepped in to help restore hope," said Dane Richardson, chief education officer of the Digicel Foundation.

Over 2,000 books, 21 computers, three refrigerators, pots, plates, and other valuables were lost as a result of the blaze.

In response to the crisis, the Airy Castle Primary School Resource Equipping Project was launched to gather funds to renovate damaged areas of the institution.

Through its contribution to the fund, the Digicel Foundation will support a plan to modernise the school with teaching-and-learning material that will enrich the education process. This includes acquiring tools to enhance the learning process and providing hands-on experience for the school's tactile, auditory and visual learners.

These goals are part of a three-month restoration and improvement plan that the school's principal, Dawn Graham, shared when applying for the grant. Her aim is to also improve numeracy and literacy skills within a year for the 218 students on roll.

In expressing thanks to the Digicel Foundation, Graham stated that the renovation project would provide alternative methods of enhancing the learning experience, while reducing the emphasis on students simply memorising facts.

"The new building will [also] serve as the library/resource room. Selected community members, who sometimes volunteer their service to the school, will be trained alongside teachers and students on the proper use of the resources. This will foster a feeling of ownership, restored hope and responsibility among community members for the new and restored resource materials," she said.