Scores of students of the Grants Pen Primary and Infant School in Yallahs, St. Thomas watched on Wednesday (Feb. 22) as grade 6 students Celine Davis and Dwayne Ives got “married” in a ceremony held on the school grounds.
It was an elaborate occasion, with the bride looking resplendent in a white gown with tiara and trail, while the groom was handsome in a black suit. With teacher Norman Grant as “officiating minister,” the 11year-olds said their vows and exchanged rings before signing their names in a register.
There were squeals of delight from the students, when the couple kissed on the cheeks and fed each other cake and juice at the reception that followed. There were also toasts from the “parents” of the couple.
Of course, the wedding was not real. It was a grade 6 Religious Education project where the students were given the assignment to act out a religious celebration, under the guidance of their teachers.
This is part of the revised primary schools curriculum implemented in 2000 by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, which aims to teach students about some of the religious practices and traditional belief systems in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. In the process, students acquire and develop skills, which help them to appreciate a range of religious ideas, beliefs and practices. The events are held during the second term of each school year and are evaluated and graded by the teachers.
“We have done the funeral, the wake and the burial. For this event (a wedding), we included the engagement, the shower and the stag party,” grade 6 teacher Sonia Martin told JIS News.
She said that there were students at the school, who might not have witnessed these events and acting them out gave them an idea of the preparation needed and the appropriate wear and rituals.
According to Mrs. Martin, fund-raising activities for the project were carried out by the students with the support of parents and friends of the school. “The students with previous knowledge of the ceremonies brought their own costumes and set up things themselves,” she said, noting that eight wedding planners spearheaded the purchase of decorations, rings and snacks for the shower, engagement and stag parties.
Wedding planner and grade 6 student Keshane Royal, told JIS that preparing for the event was “not easy”. She said that $20 was collected from each student to purchase snacks and other items for the bridal shower and engagement.
“The engagement party was nice but because there was no ring to put on the bride’s finger, we had to lend the groom a ring to put on her finger. But it was good and the shower was nice because we brought presents for the bride and she loved it,” she said. Keshane said the experience has taught her how to prepare and deliver a toast well as to plan a wedding.
Grade 6 teacher, Norman Grant, who was chosen by the students to be the officiating minister for the wedding, said organizing the religious events help the students to be well-rounded, to function outside of the classroom and to take their rightful place in society. “We have found good leadership qualities in some of the students – the ability to take charge and to manage an event,” he said.
He noted that the students worked together to ensure the success of the event, despite a few “clashes” among persons with “strong leadership qualities.”Zola Campbell, proprietor of Zola’s Catering Service, who provided the meal of baked and fried chicken, potato salad, vegetables and juice for the reception said, “this is my gift to them.and to say thanks to all the students who supported me when I just started my business.”