Bellefield High at 50

Bellefield High at 50

Monday, October 21, 2019

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Bellefield High School wasn't only celebrating its 50th anniversary it also embraced the sacrifice and legacy of Jamaica's national heroes during a special function at the school last Wednesday.

To the beat of the drum, Pastor Shantol Davy set the tone for the Bellefield High School 50th anniversary celebrations by chanting the dub poem Freedom! - “'s not a joke thing, it's not a light thing, Freedom!”

During her opening devotional exercise, Davy in conveying her message that “freedom from bondage only exists in God”, also dazzled her audience of students, teachers, staff members, past staff members, and visitors by reading in Patois the Biblical story of Saul's revelation on the Road to Damascus.

And to cap two-and-a-half hours of speeches, tributes, cultural items and other activities, cultural researcher and change agent, Sandra Hamilton using drum-based music as a backdrop reminded Bellefield students of their rich heritage and culture, inextricably bound to Africa and the enslavement of Africans in Jamaica.

Music she told her audience, “is what makes Jamaicans different” - the music of their ancestors, using whatever instruments available, to lift the spirit even in the most difficult times and to convey messages one to another.

The Jamaican experience, Hamilton said, had thrown up people including the recognised National Heroes who were never afraid to take risks even endangering, and in some instances, sacrificing their own lives.

“To be a hero” said Hamilton, “you have to act differently,” never contented with the norm, while always caring for others.

In-between the inspirational messages of culture and history, Bellefield High's principal Paul Grant spoke of academic excellence. Three years after launching its sixth form programme, Bellefield High students had performed outstandingly in the CAPE exams with high pass rates including “100 per cent” in a range of subjects such as communication studies, environmental science, physics, biology, chemistry, sociology, Grant said.

At the CSEC level 54 of more than 200 students who sat those exams gained distinctions, he disclosed. Councillor for the Bellefield Division, Mario Mitchell brought news of plans to take the school off the shift system. The government was being actively lobbied for lands “next door” to be made available and for Bellefield High to be expanded in order to remove the two-shift arrangement, said Mitchell.

Joan O'Connor, a former teacher and member of the very first batch of students at Bellefield High, 50 years ago, spoke of her pride in the school and also shared colourful memories. “For a month, at the start of the school, students didn't even have any uniform,” said O'Connor.

She urged the students to wear their uniform “with pride”.

Custos of Manchester Garfield Green hailed the leadership of Bellefield High for producing “well-rounded students”. Jamaica needs “bright minds and young leadership”, he said.

Twenty-eight former school leaders, teachers and staff members, including founding principal Rev Caswell Burto,n were honoured for their services to Bellefield High.

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