MONTEGO BAY, St James — The official arrival of 10 young women to start grade 12 on Monday morning signalled a new chapter in the history of the 117-year-old Cornwall College.
The Montego Bay institution was admitting females as part of its student population for the first time, and is the third former all-boys' school to admit girls after St George's College several years ago and Munro College last week.
It was not the first time that females were attending classes at Cornwall College, but it was the first time they were being registered officially as students of the school.
The girls came from Montego Bay High, Mt Alvernia High, and all the way from William Knibb Memorial in Trelawny, Knox College in Clarendon, and Porus High in Manchester. Of these schools, only Montego Bay High does not have a sixth form programme.
The history-makers are Priya Bassaragh, Karlisa Black, Shanelle Grizzle, Suedan Love, Kori Richards, Mickaylia Smith, Shanice Thompson, Tanice Williams, Nikolea Woolery, and Mauricia Whyte.
In the past, female students from the nearby Mt Alvernia High and Montego Bay High attended classes at the institution, but were not in fact bona fide students, chairman of the school's board of management Gerald Chambers told the Observer.
Lorna Rampasard, vice-principal in charge of the upper school, said the young ladies had been through a very strict interview process after "nearly 200 students applied for the 60 places we had in 12th grade."
Rampasard said the school's administration took a decision to increase the numbers to 71, the biggest 12th grade ever at the school, to accommodate the usual 60 boys plus the 10 girls.
The minimum standard for entry into Cornwall's programme is six passes with a minimum of three grade ones.
The vice-principal said the girls were "waiting to challenge the boys on their own turf".
Shanice Thompson, who spoke on behalf of the girls, said she and her fellow history-makers intended to "shine like diamonds".
The girls were each presented with tie pins by Head Boy Kirk Jones after being given a rousing reception at the general assembly and then escorted to their classrooms through a guard of honour formed by male members of the 12th and 13th grades.