Cornwall College alumni donate $5.8m to renovate science lab

Western News

Cornwall College alumni donate $5.8m to renovate science lab

Observer West reporter

Thursday, January 14, 2021

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — A number of local and overseas chapters of the Cornwall College Alumni Association have pooled resources to undertake the renovation of a science laboratory at their alma mater, at a cost of $5.8 million.

“It's a collaboration amongst various chapters: the Montego Bay chapter, our Florida chapter, the Kingston chapter and old boys were the ones who did all the planning, all the drawings, who are part of the project team, who will be doing the project management. Old boys will be doing the renovation and so it's all in the family. And we have a vested interest to ensure that quality work will be done and that is what will happen,” argued Dr Meghoo, president of the Montego Bay chapter of the Cornwall College Alumni Association.

He was speaking on Tuesday at the signing of the contract between the alumni association and contractors Marken Construction Limited, headed by Richard Downer, a Cornwall College past student, for the project.

Principal of the all-boys' school, Michael Ellis, who “extended commendations” and “profound thanks” to the past students, noted that the laboratory will go a far way in preparing the students for the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum.

“A science lab in this day and age is extremely important. A science lab with 21st-century features is critical to helping us at Cornwall College, to one, deliver what is known as the national standard curriculum which is designed to engage students to provide them with opportunities for project-based learning...those kinds of things. It is very critical that we have a good science lab or I should say good science labs,” Ellis declared.

“It also helps us to a great extent to deliver what we call the STEM curriculum — the science, technology, engineering and mathematical approach to teaching and learning. So a renovated science lab is extremely critical for that purpose.

“Last but not least, to help our boys to meet international standards as well as to reach the standards where they not just get ones, but good quality ones in their science endeavour. So my job basically is to ensure that the refurbished science lab serves as the vehicle to continue the rich tradition, the rich history and culture in science education, not only for our boys to reach standards in Jamaica, but that they will also meet global standards.”

Janet Silvera, director in charge of communication for the South Florida chapter of the alumni, noted that the laboratory will allow the school to continue its rich tradition of providing science education in Jamaica.

“It was the first government school in Jamaica, and also the first high school in the West Indies to offer chemistry and physics as subjects in its curriculum. It also was the high school which had the first chemistry laboratory in Jamaica. This was established in the 1920s, so we are coming from very far,” Silvera noted.

“For many years the majority of doctors and pharmacists in Jamaica were graduates of the school... that remains true up to today. Many notable scientists, architects, engineers, medical doctors and other science-related fields would have benefited from the high quality of science education at the school over the years.”

Dr Meghoo, who said “I surely benefited from the rich history, the rich educational experience that was afforded here”, pointed out that annually a number of science students matriculate to university from Cornwall College.

“We continue every year to provide multiple students to the faculty of medicine, multiple students to the faculty of engineering, multiple students to the faculty of pure and applied sciences, multiple students to the agricultural field,” he noted.

Meanwhile, the Marken Construction boss promised to complete the renovation work within six months.

“This project would last over the period of six months which I intend to finish far before that. At the end of the six months, that is, at the end of the contract period, I am sure that this chemistry lab will be up and running in that time or maybe before that,” Downer said.

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