JIS News

Minister of Industry and Tourism, Aloun Ndombet-Assamba, has challenged the Merl Grove High School alumni to assist in the development of a mentoring programme for the current batch of students.
“We send money, scholarships and other things, but what is needed also is the presence of those who have gone through the school, just to give a couple of hours every month,” she stated, noting that the school’s principal, Amy Allen, supported the idea.
Mrs. Ndombet Assamba, who was addressing a banquet put on by the Merl Grove Alumni Association’s Toronto Chapter recently in Canada, pointed that there were many schoolgirls with problems, who had no adults to talk to, and would benefit from a mentoring programme. She said that while it would be difficult for the overseas alumni to participate in such a programme, they could encourage their friends at home to get involved in the school and offer support for the students.
Minister Ndombet Assamba, who is a past student of Merl Grove, shared with the audience the “great lessons” she learnt during her years at the institution. “One of the things I learnt is that your mind is the most powerful thing that you have and you must learn to use it. You have to control it and once you do that, you can do anything,” she stated, noting that she also found inspiration in the life lessons of the school’s founder Miriam Speid, who started the school 80 years ago.
“Merl Grove might not have been one of those traditional high schools that people want to go to, but certainly, those of us who went to Merl Grove learnt everything that we needed to learn to be successful women,” she stated.
Minister Assamba also had words of praise for the late Joyce Barbara Martin, who “touched so many lives.” Mrs. Martin not only attended Merl Grove as a student, but returned to teach physics and eventually served as vice principal and then principal from 1993 to 1998. Three past students – Suzette Lawrence, Althea Hamilton-Nosworthy and Michelle Blackwood, paid tribute in song to Mrs. Martin, who died last year.
Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto, Vivia Betton, lauded the past students for maintaining links and cooperation with the school. “The resources you have committed in financial, material and human areas have made a positive contribution to the development of the students at Merl Grove High School.
It is also noteworthy that the goals of your association to do more, will augur well for the future of the school and of the wider educational sector in our country,” she stated.
President of the alumni association, Claudette Cameron-Stewart, thanked the attendees and entreated them to work to make a “difference in the life of a child who would otherwise not have the means to achieve.”
The Merl Grove Past Students Association has planned a reunion from November 13-19 as part of activities to mark the school’s 80th anniversary. Among the events to take place will be a church service and a prize giving ceremony, which will see the presentation of the annual Miriam Speid scholarship by the Jamaican chapter, the J. Barbara Martin Scholarship by the Canadian chapter and the first Shakara Harris Scholarship by the Northeastern United States chapter.
Shakara Harris is the 13-year-old first form student, who was killed in a traffic accident in front of the school in January 2004.

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