ISLINGTON, St Mary — Hillside Primary School was abuzz with activity on Friday and yesterday, as residents of the Islington community turned out in large numbers to support a venture by past students to give the school a facelift.
Among the activities undertaken were painting, cutting lawns and cleaning drains.
Acting principal of the institution Phyllis Williams-Miller was excited about the support that the school got, ahead of the start of the new school year.
"The initiative is great. I am totally in for it and appreciative of the services. Hillside Primary School has many, many past students. For the past students to come in and to assist, it is a great move, a grand initiative. I am excited about it because it means that something is happening at Hillside," Miller told the Jamaica Observer.
Miller said students at the school have excelled over the years and so the much-needed assistance is expected to boost the students' performance even more.
"We aim to improve our literacy rates in keeping with the ministry's standards. We always aim for 100 per cent," she stated, adding that all her teachers held degrees, as the school tries to give the students the best.
While the teachers are all highly-trained, Miller said that a facelift to the property will serve to enhance the learning experience.
"I think it will enhance the whole ethos of the school, the morale, students will tend to feel better seeing the school bright, and we hope that it will go over to them; it will have that spillover effect and they, too, will feel that resilience come September morning," she said.
Miller explained that the past students were working assiduously to enhance the learning experience of the students at the school.
"They are stepping up and pulling in, truly," she stated.
The Hillside Primary Alumni Association, United States of America Chapter, led the activities over the weekend.
President of the association Glenford Nugent said that it was a pleasure for the members of the association to be giving back to the school, which will enhance the development of the community.
"We did a fund-raiser in New York and so most of the funding comes from past students," he stated.
"We don't do this to get praise but because we see it worth doing. We intend to get this bigger. What we are doing is to adopt the school," he added.
"This endeavour makes my heart feel good because this is where we all started out," Nugent said.
But it is not only about giving the school a facelift.
Past student Cedric Davis, who is the initiator of the formation of the alumni association, piloted a project which saw the school receiving several computers last year.
Davis, who operates the K and J diner in Pennsylvania, USA, said that the association was formed in the US after several past students came to a picnic that he hosts yearly and the decision was made to give back to the school, which has produced many outstanding members of the society.
He explained that the past students intend to do even more for the institution and the wider community and there are now plans in place to host a fun day in the community next year.
Davis, who has been living overseas for 26 years, said: "I just feel that I should come back and give back something to my school and my community so that's what I am working on."
"The Government should be doing some things, but we can't sit and wait on them. The ministry has many schools and so if we can do something, then let us do it for the people," he stated.
Davis said that he is now hoping that other past students will come on board to develop the community and the school.
"We want to get in some of the past students who can help. So the people out there who can help, we would like to see them come so we can get this thing to another level," Davis said.
Williams-Miller said that several past students were working to have the computer lab fully functional with Internet access, and for the computers to be used in the learning process.
"The only thing missing now is a multimedia projector," Miller, who is also a past student, told the Sunday Observer.
Miller said that the institution intends to "have a rigorous literacy programme using the computers".
"I am really happy that the past students' association has taken on the challenge to fix the school for back-to-school," senior teacher at Hillside Primary, Sylvette Williams-Hinds, said.