The playfield at Morningside Primary and Infant School in Junction, St Elizabeth, is being rehabilitated by members of the Parent-Teachers Association (PTA) in an effort to advance the institution’s sports programme.
The field is used to train students for athletic meets, football and cricket competitions, and to host annual sports day activities.
Work began in May with the assistance of businessman Katon Newel, who donated topsoil from his quarry to level the area. The estimated cost of the rehabilitation is $250,000.
Immediate Past President of the PTA and one of the co-ordinators of the project, Sherene Blake, said the rocky state of the playfield had been impeding the performance of students during sporting activities, with some suffering minor injuries over the years.
“This project came out of our mantra ‘safety for our students’. I am one of those teachers who train the students each year for our athletic games, and each year sometimes the students suffer various injuries. We saw this as a hindrance to their performance, so this year the PTA, in collaboration with a businessman, decided to undertake this project as our contribution towards the improvement of the school,” she explained.
Blake, who underscored the importance of public-private partnership in the education sector, said the PTA is seeking additional sponsorship to erect a seating area for students watching sporting performances.
Principal of the school, Nahalia Lynch, expressed gratitude to the PTA for undertaking the project, noting that it will enable future athletes to realise their full potential.
“The playfield was very stony and it has sharp curves [and so, when the students run, it can be challenging. We do very well in athletics, and our children go on to participate in the district association sporting meet and the Essex Valley sporting meet – and they do very well,” she noted.
The institution has been producing a number of promising athletes. One of its famous past students is Dennis Blake, who won a relay bronze medal at the 1996 Olympics in the United States, and silver at the 1995 World Championships in Sweden.
The principal noted that, following the school’s annual sports day in February, parents were pained by the condition of the playfield and committed to resolving the situation.
“When we had our last sports day, the turnout was tremendous. We had so many parents here. They said ‘No, Miss Lynch, we have to do something about the field’. By the next day, Mr. Newel called and said he would provide the topsoil for the field, and by the next week members of the PTA met to put plans in place,” she further explained.
The principal stated that, although the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has hampered the project, parents are making an effort to have the playfield ready in time for the reopening of school in September.
The school’s coach, Dennis Lawrence, hailed the rehabilitation work, which he said will help to enhance the sporting performance of student athletes.
“I feel very good for, when we have a good surface, the students will learn the techniques properly. So, when they go on further in their high school and colleges, they will have the basic foundation already to build on,” he said.
Lawrence, who is also a parent and is assisting in the restoration effort, stated that the community stands to benefit from the upgraded playfield through sporting competitions.
“After the field is fixed, we have some night football that we want to play that will take in the community, and the school will generate some funds as well,” he noted.
In the meantime, the principal stated that the PTA has been a driving force, championing the development of Morningside Primary and Infant since her appointment as principal in 2015.
“I am overwhelmed by the tremendous support that the parents have given to this institution since I started. When they say parents make the school, I totally understand now what that means,” she added.
Editorial note: The information for this story is provided by the state-owed JIS
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