Merriment and gratitude filled the atmosphere at Bermaddy Primary School as the public institution received 40 pairs of desks and chairs from its Parent Teachers Association (PTA).
During the handing-over ceremony on April 11 at the school, which is located in the Treadways area of Linstead in St Catherine, PTA President Amoy Levers noted that the task of raising $540,000 to purchase the furniture at first seemed daunting.
“But my parents [in the PTA] know me quite well that, if I say we must get it done, I am serious…” she said. “We went head-on rallying every parent, past students locally and internationally, the board of governors, companies, and just about anyone we came in contact with… We knew we had to get there; we knew we had to go the last mile of the way and so we kept pressing on… These desks and chairs, we are hoping, will benefit many many generations.”
Reflecting on the genesis of the project, Levers recalled that, on January 19, Principal Melbourne Thompson informed her “of the crisis” that was being faced regarding seating especially for Grade Five students. The situation was particularly unsettling because, at that time, face-to-face classes were about to resume conditionally after being suspended for nearly two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The $540,000 really seemed like a [mammoth] task at the initial stage, but Miss Levers pushed and she begged and today we are really grateful for the furniture,” the principal said while applauding the other people who contributed to the effort.
“Even in the midst of the crisis that we call COVID-19, motivation and unity of purpose bring great reward,” he added.
The principal also noted that, in ensuring that the furniture that the school was getting were of high standard, the PTA ended up turning down the initial batch that was being delivered to the school. The supplier got it right on the second attempt.
Some of the parents, elated that their effort has borne fruit, showed up at the school to witness the handing over of the furniture.
“I feel good to know that the school get the chairs and desks,” one of them told The Beacon, adding that her daughter and son-in-law who live abroad were among persons who chipped in and donated.
Howard Williams expressed hope that the furniture, which eventually were placed in the Grade Five classroom, will last long enough to benefit younger students, including his daughter who is enrolled at the school. “This project means everything to me because I have a daughter who don’t reach Grade Five yet. I don’t want to hear that she doesn’t have desk or chair to use. So when the PTA president mentioned this project, mi jump in. Thank God it work out and everybody feel good.”
Not leaving the students out of the handing-over ceremony, the organizers allowed the prefect for Grade Five, Titania Raymond, to symbolically cut a ribbon attached to the furniture. She, like other students, is elated for the gift.
One student, Rashee Chambers, expressed hope that his peers will use the furniture with care. “I feel very happy that we got the chairs and desks; it is very exciting. I hope the children of Grade Five will cherish them,” he said.
Monique Williams, another student, told The Beacon that “it feels great” to see her school get new desks and chairs.
The students did not only receive new furniture. They also got sage advice from Dr Beverly Johnson, chairman of the school’s board of governors. She urged the children to live by what she deemed the ‘seven ups’ – stand up for what is right, speak up, listen up, rise up, ‘wait up’ and avoid destructive rush, live up, and look up to God.
“Live up to Jamaica’s expectation of you because Jamaica is depending on you; you are the future,” Dr Johnson further told the students. “If you cannot be the sun, be a star, but be the brightest star in the sky.”
While basking in the completion of one task, the PTA, through Levers, made it clear that there are more projects in the offing that will redound to the good of Bermaddy Primary and its students.
“Even as we close this chapter and look forward to new beginnings, it is my ultimate dream to have the school-yard paved, as when it rains the students have difficulty in maneuvering the mud,” she said. “Remember that we are trailblazers and we will continue to blaze the trail of success in whatever we do for it is action and vision that determine the future.”
The PTA, with sponsorship from different stakeholders, has, over the years, undertaken a number of projects at Bermaddy Primary. They include the installation of hand-wash stations in 2020, the pavement of he roadway leading to the school in 2017, and the acquisition of a public address system in 2016.
Not leaving the corporate sponsors out, Levers lauded them for helping to make a positive difference. Kaban Hardware and Jamaica Biscuit Company contributed towards acquisition of the desks and chairs. Carib Cement, Councillor for the Treadways Division Sydney Rose, and North South Highway Company Limited helped to pave the entrance to the school.
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