MAY PEN, Clarendon — Held under the apt theme of 'Dare to Make an Impact: Fully Bright' Glenmuir High School's First Form Development Luncheon was once again a hit this year.
Scores of grade seven students assembled in the school's auditorium for the event on Tuesday afternoon. The initiative, which was launched in 2018 when the school celebrated its 60 anniversary, resumed this year after being interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was an opportunity for students to dress formally, outside of their regular uniform, and demonstrate different skills and talents through moderating, singing, doing dub poetry and, of course, dining etiquette.
"We have an active etiquette club at Glenmuir High School where we teach social graces, etiquette (of course), and as a part of our curriculum we try to invest in the personal development of our students and so, from September onwards, we have been teaching some of these skills. So today, we are just culminating it all to see the extent to which they are able to demonstrate in real life all of these habits and skills that we have been teaching them," explained Dr Marsha Smalling, the institution's principal.
Smalling added that the yearly luncheon is an event that is highly anticipated by both students and staff.
"They get a chance to dress up and to be exposed in this kind of setting, and we are just pleased with the outcome. I am grateful for the support of our outstanding coordinators, form teachers, subject teachers, and the administrators for making this event possible. The decorator has outdone herself, once again, and we are just pleased about everything that is happening here today," she told the Jamaica Observer.
The principal strongly believes it is important to highlight the positive actions being taken in local schools, as these are often overshadowed by negative news of crime and violence, deaths and rape.
Janiece Corniffe-Williams, one of the coordinators of Tuesday's luncheon, also spoke of the significance of the event.
"The overall aim of the programme is to help to prepare our students to develop certain skill sets that will allow them to be able to function in wider society, so we teach them how to dress and the different things that go with this kind of a function… the behaviour and all of those things," she said.
First-formers are the focus, she added, to ensure that Glenmuir students start off on the right footing.
"We want to ensure that as soon as they come into the system, we culture them into the rich tradition of excellence," she said.
"That's one of the reasons we are the number one high school in the island. At the end of their tenure here we recognise that they don't only achieve academic success but also much value would have been added to who they are — such as their deportment — as a result of our activities here," she continued.
Students are expected to cultivate and demonstrate the core values of the institution: responsibility, citizenship, care, trustworthiness, fairness, and respect.
Charmaine Holmes, another first-form coordinator, said the timing of the event is strategic as it is organised right after the mid-term examinations.
"Exams are over… so it's a time for them to sit with their friends and chat and mingle and get rid of the exam blues," she said.
Both coordinators agreed that the event required a lot of planning and organisation. They are grateful to parents and teachers who provided support.
Students spoke glowingly of the initiative.
"The event is wonderful. I must say it is festive. I really enjoy seeing my classmates and schoolmates dress up… It is wonderful; a very eventful event. The meal was wonderful; it was well-cooked," said Jaymonie Hill of 1H.
Kaimi McDonald of 1R was just as complimentary.
"Today's function was very good. The food was very delicious; the drinks — I needed more. The tables were nicely decorated; the setting very good as well. I think the school should continue doing this for first-formers. I think elegance was mostly demonstrated, but the knife and fork was very difficult," she said.