C'bar apologises

School tells KC sorry for 'vulgar, distasteful' chants, moves to repair damage

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

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The board and administrators of Calabar High moved swiftly yesterday to heal a nasty wound inflicted on the Red Hills Road school by some students who were recorded on video chanting what has been described as “vulgar and distasteful” comments about their long-time sporting rivals Kingston College (KC).

Stating that the content of the video was “deeply abhorrent and not in keeping with the values, ethos and principles” that Calabar has upheld as a church school for over a century, the board said it has spoken with KC Principal Dave Myrie; sent a written apology to the staff and students of KC; and will lead a delegation of Calabar teachers and students to KC today to participate in their devotion and to publicly offer the apology to staff and students.

“The school's leadership has met with the entire school population and conveyed its strong condemnation of the utterances which can only be described as disturbing, distasteful, vulgar and not in keeping with the positive values and attitudes that we try to instil in our young men at Calabar,” the statement over the signature of board Chairman Rev Karl Johnson added.

In addition, the board said an investigation was immediately launched into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

On Saturday, KC completed the five-day ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys' Championship at the National Stadium in St Andrew with a comprehensive victory, ending a 10-year drought to claim their 32nd hold on the Mortimer Geddes Trophy and scuttling Calabar's hope of an eighth successive win.

Despite the strong rivalry between both schools, commendable efforts have been made over many years to maintain good relations among students, leading to a 'Peace for Champs' initiative that has helped to reduce conflict among rival schools and their fans in the Corporate Area.

Monday's actions by the Calabar students at their morning assembly shocked many Jamaicans, especially because adults, who were assumed to be teachers, were seen in the hall. The result was that the school came under heavy flak on social media as the video went viral.

Yesterday, officials from the education ministry, led by Minister without Portfolio Karl Samuda, and junior minister Alando Terrelonge, as well as Acting Permanent Secretary Dr Grace McLean met with Calabar administrators.

In addition to the apology to KC, the meeting also agreed that Calabar would provide Samuda with the result of its investigation by Friday.

A news release from the ministry said that Samuda condemned the behaviour in the video, labelling it as disturbing and distasteful and said it was “not in keeping with the positive actions and values that our education system instils in students”.

He also urged students to demonstrate respect and good sportsmanship, notwithstanding any disappointments.

The school board said that “preliminary reports so far indicate that the teachers present were not party to the unfortunate utterances, which took place during the regular chanting of school cheers. In fact, the acting principal, who was also present, took immediate action and stopped the offensive chant once he became aware of the content”.


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