Principal of Mona High School Keven Jones says he will not be handing out severe punishment to the students who stormed Jamaica College (JC) during the school’s Manning Cup victory parade recently.
After winning their first-ever urban area title last week, Mona conducted a celebratory motorcade through the Kingston 6 area, but things turned sour when students were seen in a viral video running towards JC’s gate on Old Hope Road while blowing vuvuzelas, mimicking gunfire sounds and shouting offensive slurs towards the school’s security guard.
The actions received strong condemnation from the public, including Minister of Education and Youth Fayval Williams, who attended the school’s devotion prior to the motorcade.
Despite his disappointment with the students, Jones told the Jamaica Observer that this presents an opportunity to enhance their students’ social skills.
“We’re not going to lay down the hammer. What we want to do is to find the students involved and it’s going to be a teaching moment. We have to run a programme, it means we have work to do,” he said.
“Young ladies, young men, this is not how you represent yourself or represent your school when you go out in the public space. You need to have some manners. Use of expletives, gun finger especially in your uniform is unbecoming, you don’t do that. But the idea to punish? No, it’s not to punish but you reprimand and hold them accountable for their actions. They won’t get away scotch free but to teach these students social skills.”
Jones also believes that they should be given grace and not be looked down upon by the public.
“I realise that as a nation, we are very forgetful. For example, we had a victory parade. It was lovely, we marched through Liguanea, went to Papine and went back to Mona. We were excited. For a couple of seconds, we stopped at JC gate, some students ran in, blew vuvuzelas, made some noise and came back out.”
“On the video footage, I saw where there was a gun finger and a student using expletives. That was anywhere between 15-20 seconds. Those seconds don’t define us as a school, that’s just a stain on a white shirt. We can’t allow that kind of thing to overshadow the achievements of 2023. We apologise to JC, it shouldn’t have happened and it’s unfortunate,” he said.
The incident followed the scenes at the National Stadium where the presentation ceremony was cancelled due to the unrest among supporters and security personnel as well an instance where members of the team took the trophy before the official ceremony.
Jones says the school’s reputation shouldn’t be tarnished and pointed out a situation with other high schools involved in sporting competitions.
“In 1992, Calabar won Boys’ champs by 1.5 points more than Jamaica College. When they did their recalculations, it came out that JC was the actual winner. What did the JC students do? They marched to Red Hills Road and took the trophy, it wasn’t formally handed over to them,” he stated.
“We took it up over excitement and they said, ‘no, put it back, you’re being rude’. It was just youthful exuberance, euphoria and everybody caught up in it and it’s just one of those things. I don’t think the knee-jerk reflex was to punish, it was a teachable moment. This is not what you do and let’s do it properly,” Jones added.
On Wednesday at the National Stadium, Mona were finally presented with the Manning Cup trophy at the ISSA Olivier Shield final and despite going down 4-0 to Clarendon College, the principal says having the physical title meant the world to him and the school.
“I feel a deep sense of satisfaction. I told the boys regardless of the outcome of [the Olivier Shield], just make sure we have the Manning Cup on hand and at the end of the final whistle, we take it and celebrate because we are the champions. CC is there lifting the Olivier Shield and we’ll be lifting the Manning Cup. It will stay at Mona Road, right at Mona High School in my office for the next academic year,” Jones said.