Mon | Nov 29, 2021

New lab igniting spirit of excellence, says St Catherine High principal

Published:Thursday | April 11, 2019 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Tavar Harriott (right), a science student at St Catherine High School, explains a bit of chemistry to Digicel Jamaica CEO Justin Morin (left) and Karl Samuda (second left), minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Eduation, Youth and Information, following the opening ceremony of the Digicel Foundation-renovated science lab at the Spanish Town-based school yesterday.

The more than 30-year wait for a new science lab at the St Catherine High School is over after the Digicel Foundation handed over a fully equipped, state-of-the-art facility and prep room, described by the principal, Marlon Campbell, as an “awesome gesture”.

He said that new laboratory has ignited a spirit of excellence, and the psychology of learning is being shifted into the right gear.

“New facilities with modern equipment set the tone that the interest in education is unpretentious and genuine. There is now an enthusiasm of readiness to enter the new space as the children prepare themselves for class,” said Campbell.

The cost of the renovation at St Catherine High comes in at $10.5 million and is the 11th such project undertaken by the Digicel Foundation.

Speaking at yesterday’s opening ceremony, East Rural St Andrew Member of Parliament Juliet Holness lauded the foundation, the Ministry of Education, and the school, noting that the future “is really science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)”.

Holness, the wife of Prime Minister Andrew Holiness – both St Catherine High School alumni – added: “If we are to be the people of the future, not only using the telephones and using computers and playing the games, but the innovators and creators of the future technology, then we have to start by training our students to be able to function in a world where the Chinese and the Koreans and the Americans are all into the STEM areas,” Holness said.

She said that as developing and First World countries increase their focus on STEM, Jamaica will not be left behind, noting that “the best place to start is right here at the St Catherine High School”.

In step with emerging economies

Jean Lowrie-Chin, who chairs the Digicel Foundation, said that that STEM subjects are critical for workforce development in Jamaica and are a worldwide trend in emerging economies.

“Indeed, St Catherine High is in step with the times, boasting an active science club with over 70 members,” she noted.

Lowrie-Chin also noted the significance of the handover for the foundation, now in its 15th year. To date, Digicel Foundation has partnered with 11 high schools islandwide to renovate and equip them with science labs at a cost of $34 million, while donating 44 mobile science labs to those schools with inadequate space for full science labs to offer quality education to thousands of students.

Final-year student Tavar Harriott expressed gratitude, noting that beyond the handover, many students would enjoy the facility and use it to boost performance in the sciences.

“This is amazing, and even though I won’t be here much longer, I am sure the other students will benefit tremendously. So I must say a big thanks to the Digicel Foundation for this gift. As part of the student body here, I am very excited about it as a science major student myself,” Harriott stated.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com