The playfield at the Morningside Primary and Infant School in Junction, St Elizabeth, is being rehabilitated by members of the Parent-Teacher 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 as well as host the school’s 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 coordinators for the project, Sherene Blake, tells JIS News that 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 explains.
Ms. Blake says the PTA is pleased to continuously respond to the needs of the students and staff of the institution, noting that the public-private partnership is critical to the transformation of he education sector.
“I believe that all stakeholders have to work together for the improvement of our school. We believe that by upgrading our school, the students will be exposed to better safety and security measures and a comfortable environment all together,” she adds.
Ms. Blake says the PTA is seeking additional sponsorship to erect a seating area for students “to view sporting performances”.
The refurbishing work being done has been well received by the school, which has an exceptional track record in developing young talent in athletics, football and other sporting disciplines.
The institution has produced a number of top athletes, including two-time Olympian, Dennis Blake, who won a relay bronze medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, and silver at the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Principal of the school, Nahalia Lynch, has 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, 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 notes.
She points out 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 tells JIS News.
She says that while the coronavirus (COVID-19) has hampered the project, efforts are being made by parents to have the field ready for the reopening of school in September.
For his part, School Coach, Dennis Lawrence, hailed the rehabilitation work, which he says will help to enhance the sporting performance of the 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 tells JIS News.
Mr. Lawrence, who is also a parent and is assisting in the restoration effort, says 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 notes.
Meanwhile, Ms. Lynch says 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, because my parents have supported me so much in all different endeavours, and this is just the latest contribution to the development and growth of the school, and I am so grateful to them,” she adds.