Rainforest Caribbean, on Wednesday, November 15, rolled out the red carpet for 15 Iris Gelly Primary School students, acting vice-principal Michell Ward, and grade two teacher Sharnette Thompson.
The happy bunch made the trip from Arnett Gardens to the company's Slipe Road headquarters for the annual Jamaica Observer 2023 Applaud It! series.
"We've adopted Iris Gelly almost 20 years, [and I] we're so proud of the relationship. We've been there with you guys, and you have made us proud... Our association with the Applaud It! brand spans almost 10 years, and we've seen it grow from strength to strength. We welcome the opportunity to give back. We have chosen Iris Gelly for a number of reasons. We have seen the school evolve, the teachers are doing tremendous work, the students are getting good grades and are being consistent with their academic endeavours. So, today is your day. We're in the festive season and we ask you guys to open up. Don't be shy; speak to our team. You can learn so much; we can learn from you as well. We're happy you're here... We want you to have a great day," Roger Lyn, director of marketing and corporate affairs.
On hand to make the day great was Chef Kara Pessoa. "Today, it was my pleasure to come in and create a menu for you guys... All the products used are carried by Rainforest Caribbean... I hope you enjoy. Bon appetit!" said Pessoa.
Not so fast! Before diving into the first course — callaloo fish chowder — Jamaica Observer Senior Associate Editor - Lifestyle & Social Content and Applaud It! conceptualiser Novia McDonald-Whyte, with the help of grade three student A'drianna Spence and grade one student Jourdain Pinnock, led a lesson in soup eating. With everyone ready to "scoop away" the first course was under way! The sweet and sour fish with garden rice pilaf and sauteéd vegetables was followed by a tutorial of how to correctly use a knife and fork.
In between bites the students shared their favourite subjects (kudos to the teachers, because they seem to all love mathematics) and quizzed brothers Ben Jardim, business development manager, and Zak Jardim, inventory & logistics manager about their roles in the company and new products. Acting Vice-Principal Michell Ward, who has been with the school for almost 30 years, discussed how parenting has changed over the years. "It's almost like they want us to do everything; it wasn't like that before," explained Ward. She explained that, in response to the growing concern, the school has implemented a parenting workshop that "helps equip parents with the necessary skills they need to be able to help their children with homework and other tasks".
The meal wrapped on a sweet note, with chocolate chip brownies and Devon House vanilla ice cream.
"For those of you who don't know, the Jamaica Observer is very close by, on Beechwood Avenue, which is just around the corner from where your school is, and from where we [Rainforest] are. And Miss Novia has pioneered, with the Observer, this wonderful initiative. And what it is essentially, is exposing and opening the C-suite, the boardrooms of various businesses across Jamaica for youngsters of your age to be able to come and experience what is like in the corporate life, the business life in Jamaica. It's a bit of each one, teach one. If you take this lesson back to school, you share it with friends. There'll be video footage, there'll be pictures in the newspaper. It's wonderful exposure for all of us here," Brian Jardim, Rainforest Caribbean CEO, said.
Iris Gelly, after whom the school is named when it was established in 1977, was a councillor for the Trench Town division. She died in 2008.
"This was a beautiful afternoon, and we always enjoy having Iris Gelly, particularly the young ones... And Novia, you have an excellent thing here. Keep it going," said Rainforest Caribbean General Manager Jerome Miles.
Applaud It!, a week-long initiative that provides a unique opportunity for industry leaders to meet the next generation exactly where they are at and guide them through an awesome dining experience, continues today around the Wisynco boardroom table with students from Jonathan Grant High School.