MONTEGO BAY, St James — NIKOLEA Woolery had little doubts where she wanted to attend 12th grade the minute she heard that Cornwall College would be accepting a limited number of females into the previously all-boys' institution this September.
In addition to being lured by the high standards that has been established at the Montego Bay school, the former Montego Bay High student wanted to follow in her father's (Canute) footsteps and attend the 117 year-old institution.
For Mickylia Smith who attended Porus High in Manchester, she wanted to pursue law and when she heard about Cornwall College's pre-law programme she packed her bags and headed west.
On Monday the two young ladies were among 10 who created history by being the first set of females to 'officially' don the 'red and gold' and attend Cornwall College. The others are: Priya Bassaragh, Tanice Williams, Kori Richards, Karlisa Black, Shanelle Grizzle, Suedan Love, Shanice Thompson and Mauricia Whyte.
The female students had to compete against nearly 200 other applicants for the 60 available 12th grade places at Cornwall College.
The institution became the third former all-boys' school to admit girls, following St George's College several years ago and Munro College last week.
As the school's administration has pointed out on several occasions since the announcement earlier this year that the school would be admitting girls to its sixth form, it was not the first time that females would be attending classes at Cornwall College, but it was the first time they were registered to the school and would be official students there.
"In the 1970s and again as late as on a few occasions in the 1990s, female students from the nearby Mount Alvernia High and Montego Bay High schools had attended classes there, but were not in fact 'bona fide' students there," said Gerald Chambers, the chairman of the school's Board of Management.
After attending general assembly and being welcomed at a special meeting inside the school's auditorium where they were ceremonially presented with school tie pins by Head Boy Kirk Jones, then led through a guard of honour into the Carlton Chin Sixth Form block on Monday, Nikolea told the Jamaica Observer West that she was proud to continue her father's tradition.
Shanice, who gained 10 distinctions in the CXC and who spoke on behalf of the girls during a reception held in the school's auditorium, appeared to be well at home, quoting the Cornwall College phrase "red for honour, gold for fame," while promising they would "shine like diamonds, make our mark and will stand out".
Lorna Rampasard, vice-principal in charge of the Upper School said in a special reception held in the school's auditorium that the young ladies were "not there for decorations but had come through a very strict interview process".
She added that the school's administration took a decision to increase the number of students in the 12th grade to 71, in a bid to accommodate "the usual 60 boys plus the 10 females".
The vice-principal added that the girls were excited and were waiting to challenge the boys.