A bus for Mt Alvernia High
MoBay school gets $16.7-m luxury coach from alumnaeThursday, September 26, 2019
BY ANTHONY LEWIS
MONTEGO BAY, St James — It was a joyous moment for the young ladies of the Catholic-run Mt Alvernia High School here last week Friday when, for the first time in the institution's 90 years of existence, its own bus drove through the gates of the premises onto the school compound.
The purchase of the $16.7 million vehicle from Jamaica Coach Sales and Service Ltd was made possible through the efforts of the Central Florida International Alumnae Association chapter and supported by the Kingston and Montego Bay chapters. The school and the Parent Teachers' Association (PTA) also contributed.
Even though the Central Florida International Alumnae Association is headquartered in Tampa, Florida, its members currently live in other US states, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Caribbean.
The handing-over ceremony started out with a marching band leading the 35-seater luxury bus from Orange Street in Montego Bay onto the school's compound.
However, it wasn't until the bus was in sight of teachers, students, past students, auxiliary staff and guests that one got the feeling that maybe Christ was coming as there was an outburst of joyous screams from the gathering that awaited the arrival of the vehicle. Some tried unsuccessfully to hold back the tears of joy.
“It means a lot to the school's population in general because they have never seen or heard of a bus that is owned by the school. So, this is history for us, it was emotional for some of us who were crying today. But, we really, really appreciate the effort,” expressed Stacey Reynolds, principal of the school.
It was a similar sentiment expressed by deputy head girl, Kyra Simpson, shortly before the blessing of the vehicle and the handing-over of the keys to the school.
“It is my joy and honour to accept the most exquisite comfortable state-of-the-art school bus from our big sisters from the Mt Alvernia Alumnae Central Florida chapter. We accept what has been a long-awaited resource for the school. We accept the mode by which Mt Alvernia High School young ladies will now arrive at their destinations in style,” stated Simpson.
President of Central Florida International Alumnae Association, Dawn Chin Jones, who reflected on the struggles of past students, said the presentation of the school's first bus brings tears of joy.
“Imagine, Mt Alvernia has never owned a school bus in all its 90 years of existence. Yet, this set-back has never deterred up or stopped us. We the stars who persevere through difficulties always found a way to participate in numerous activities around the island each year, wherever our talents and aspirations would take us,” stated Chin Jones, adding that “without the benefit of a bus we have participated successfully in various events, science fairs, fine arts competitions, academic competitions, athletic events and the list goes on.”
“Today the presentation of this school bus to my Alma Mater is very sentimental to me and it brings tears of joy to my eyes. We are so proud that you our little sisters will not have to struggle in the area of transportation as past students did. This gift to the school was done out of love and respect for Mt Alvernia, and it is our hope that it will play a part in upholding the rich legacy of the school,” added Chin Jones.
Reynolds cited some of the challenges that the school has faced because it did not own a bus.
“In most cases, for example, a lot of the competitions like the School Challenge Quiz, the All Together Sing….. we could not participate in some of them. We had to let them go because we didn't have the money to pay for transportation,” she noted.
“I can't express how this bus will help us financially. We won't have to be calling and trying to get busses booked, because sometimes there were last minute things that we were informed of, and we could not participate in it,” stated Reynolds.
Added Reynolds: “For example, the school had to pay over $200,000 to charter a bus to take the school to and from Boys and Girls Champs in Kingston. And, because the sport lasts over a number of days, the school had to pay another$100,000 for a separate bus in Kingston to do transportation to and from the hotel and the National Stadium daily. In addition, there is also a hotel fee. But, we tried as much as possible because my belief is that I need to expose the girls and to give them experiences. So, I try as much as possible to find the funds.”
She added however, that, Jamaica Tours Ltd “helped us out a lot last year with transportation.” “They provided us with free transportation wherever we were going, once we gave them adequate notice. But, sometimes we couldn't get them, especially in their peak tourist season,” Reynolds noted.
The luxurious coach, which has the school's logo embossed, features plush seats with headrest, a refrigerator, USB ports at each seat, LCD monitors and is Wi-fi enabled.