OCHO RIOS, St Ann — A new high school, positioned as an institution which will deliver quality leaders from its cadre of students, officially opened its doors at White River in the parish last week, with its first batch of 16.
Northgate High (NHS), a private, Christian-based institution, is an initiative owned and operated by the charity organisation Northgate Youth and Family Development Foundation.
Chairman of the school, Pastor Wesley Boyne, told the Jamaica Observer North East that the focus of the institution is to provide an educational context in which potential leaders are trained and developed in the correct manner.
"This is our response to the current leadership crisis which exists in the world today," he said, explaining that outside of the establishment of Northgate High, the Foundation actively interfaces with over 40 non-tertiary schools.
Some of the services provided, he explained, include character development initiatives, family life seminars and gender-specific empowerment initiatives.
Boyne said that except for grade 11, students are already enrolled in grades seven to 13.
He explained further that each grade has a specific theme which represents key words at the institution.
These are: grade 7 - vision; grade 8 - discipline; grade 9 - consistency; grade 10 - commitment; grade 11 - excellence; grade 12 - integrity and the 13th grade is themed servanthood.
"NHS is significant and different because of the strong emphasis of education within a values-based context," Boyne said.
He added further, "The NHS leadership team is totally convinced that the educational process, outside of a focus on the internal application of pristine values and morals, is not helping, but will in fact worsen the social breakdowns which are currently being experienced by nations everywhere."
Boyne said education should not just be about preparing children to pass an exam with a high grade, but should prepare individuals for life and inform them, beforehand, how they must respond to the issues of life.
In addition to using the Ministry of Education's secondary school curriculum, NHS students will also be exposed to a character development programme and other specific innovations geared towards character and internal development of the students.
Boyne said the institution will also use technological tools to connect with teachers and other resources outside of Jamaica so that the Northgate High experience is not only limited to Jamaica. French classes will also be held via video link from Guadeloupe.
"At the end of the process at NHS, all of our students will not only be excelling academically, but they will be able to clearly define what they stand for, the values and principles which are dear to them and the issues of life which they will never compromise," he said.
Boyne said the school is open to all students once they agree to conduct themselves according to the rules, guidelines and regulations, and who can afford the tuition which ranges, from between $55,000 to $60,000 per school term.
He, however, explained that a scholarship fund (Future Leaders Scholarship Fund) will be set up to assist students whose parents cannot afford the fee.
"In the case where the fund is not enough to help students, then all we can do is advise parents and students to look elsewhere that is more affordable. Teachers and staff have to be paid so it makes no sense taking on children who cannot pay unless funding becomes available," he explained.
NHS is a member of the Jamaica Independent Schools Association (JISA) and its president, Reverend Sylvester O'Gilvie, said the establishment of the school should change the landscape of education, not only in the parish, but worldwide.
O'Gilvie said the school was a welcomed addition to JISA and he encouraged the school community to uphold the very high standards of the institution, especially its Christian principles.