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Student ‘marriage’ at school said to be far-fetched

BY LUKE DOUGLAS Senior staff reporter douglasl@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, February 06, 2012    

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KEY education stakeholders are throwing cold water on reports that two students got married in an unprecedented ceremony, said to be witnessed by teachers, at the Bog Walk High School, St Catherine.

Two high school principals and the president of the National Parent Teachers' Association of Jamaica (NPTAJ) said they needed more information about the event at the school in which a third-form boy and a fourth-form girl reportedly exchanged vows and gold rings before a security guard, kissed openly, drank champagne and posed for video and still pictures in a 'ceremony' under a tent at the school.

Teachers were present at the "wedding" and students eagerly enjoyed the wedding cake, the Star newspaper story said last week. It said the students were known to be a "couple" at the school.

Observer efforts to get a comment from the Ministry of Education and the president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) were unsuccessful yesterday. But former JTA president, Nadine Molloy-Young, expressed doubt about the story.

"It sounds far-fetched to me. I don't see it happening as how it was reported," Molloy-Young said, adding a rider that she would like to hear from the school's principal before commenting further.

The story said the principal was not at the school when the event took place and was investigating the matter.

Asked what she would do if such an occurrence took place at the Buff Bay High where she is principal, Molloy-Young stated flatly: "It couldn't happen at my school."

Showing disbelief, another former JTA president, Ray Howell, suggested that it could have been part of a school project such as a cultural, drama, literature, social studies or home management presentation.

"You have to know the context in which it took place. It could be a teaching-learning programme in which you create a real-life situation. Perhaps it was non-alcoholic drink that was served instead of real champagne," he added. "Remember, when you are acting you have to play a role consistent with the part you are playing. Anything is possible," said Howell, who is principal of Edith Dalton James High in St Andrew.

He suggested that exposing students to real-life situations could be beneficial, such as holding mock job interviews, filling out forms and preparing resumés to seek employment.

NPTAJ president, Marcia McCausland-Wilson, also wanted to hear more information before commenting in detail.

"It doesn't sound real to me," she said, "but I do know that when they are doing religion in schools they have mock weddings, so I don't know."

Under the Marriage Act, persons under the age of 18 can only get married with the consent of a parent or guardian.

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