Career & Education

Hope for Airy Castle

School's rebuilding effort gets $200,000 boost

Sunday, August 27, 2017



With just weeks to go before the 2017-2018 school year begins, Airy Castle Primary School in St Thomas is working hard to have things returned to normal.

Structural repairs to the block that housed its library, computer lab/resource room, and canteen, which had been razed back in February, are to begin this week. Principal Dawn Graham told the Jamaica Observer on Friday.

Work is expected to be completed in 12 weeks.

The school lost over 2,000 books, 21 computers, three refrigerators, pots, plates, and other valuables in the blaze.

In response to the crisis, the school launched the Airy Castle Primary School Resource Equipping Project to raise funds and other contributions for rebuilding. Among the injections was a $200,000 grant from Digicel Foundation through its Mek-A-Muckle programme.

The school has purchased teaching and learning materials that will enrich the process by providing hands-on experience for the tactile, auditory, and visual learners. They include a mobile projector, compact disc player as well as maths and literacy manipulatives. The aim, Graham said, is to improve numeracy and literacy skills for the 218 students on roll.

“The renovation project will provide alternative methods of enhancing the learning experience, while reducing the emphasis on students simply memorising facts,” the principal said.

“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 added.

Digicel Foundation explained why it got involved.

“Nothing is more important to us than supporting Airy Castle in its time of need,” said CEO Dane Richardson. “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.”

Other contributions have come from the Sugar Transformation Unit of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries — which has donated 14 computers along with furniture needed for the computer lab — and the Terrence Foster Foundation, which donated some kitchen supplies and staged a back-to-school treat at which over 200 students received backpacks with school supplies.

Graham also indicated that several more entities, including the Ministry of Education and Guardian General, have committed to donating specific things once the building is restored.

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