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Principal: Parents, community members must lead by example

Saturday, May 17, 2014    

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Principal of the Cross Keys High School Ralph Nelson has made an appeal to parents and other adults to demonstrate positive behaviours which the children can emulate.

Nelson spoke with the Jamaica Observer after administrators at the rural school averted a 'reprisal attack' by community members following the stabbing and injuring of a male student by a schoolmate. The injured fourth-former, who was said to be stable in hospital, was allegedly stabbed by a third-former during an altercation at the lunch break.

Nelson said that subsequent to the attack there was a "community invasion" when a student used a mobile phone, which he said is against school rules, to call members from the community of the injured boy.

"They (community members) were trying to come in so we had to be on the ground preventing them and the police came in to assist us. We dismissed school early because we weren't comfortable with the security of students," the principal told the Observer. He said he received information that there was a planned attack on students from the same community as the attacker and his relatives attend the school.

Cross Keys High School, in May 2011, suffered a setback when 16-year-old Haig Williams was stabbed to death at the institution.

Nelson said that the school has found several ways to engage the numerous "low- performing" students that come to the institution annually, and now has a dean of discipline and another guidance counsellor.

Earlier this year, Cross Keys High School was commended by Education Minister Ronald Thwaites when he attended the formal launch of a scholarship fund at the school to assist the growing number of graduates who have done well but were missing out on tertiary education because they couldn't afford it.

Dean of Discipline Samuel Smalling told the Observer that he has been taking a "zero tolerance approach" to indiscipline

at the school.

He said that he was aware that by changing the culture they could be a better school and so he wanted to ensure that discipline was maintained, starting with the small things like wearing the correct socks and belt.

Nelson added that despite the numerous efforts of the school, parents and members of the communities from which students come should also take up some of the responsibility. He noted that the school always had to be on the alert to prevent disorder on the school grounds caused by parents or community members.

"Just a few weeks ago a parent came in to attack a student. When they don't behave appropriately it is hard to convince the students. The strong message I have (is) lead by example and be good examples for the students," said Nelson.

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