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JIS News

A new basic school is to be constructed in Bellas Gate, St. Catherine, on a piece of land, worth over $1 million, donated by playwright, Trevor Rhone, a former resident of the community.
The land will be leased to the community for 49 years at $10 per year, with an option to renew.
A contract signing ceremony for the donation of the land was held on Wednesday (May 21), at the Bellas Gate Basic School. Financing for the construction of the school will be provided by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), as soon as it is approved by the JSIF Board.
Currently, the school is being housed at the manse of the Bellas Gate Baptist Church. However, the building is in a state of disrepair and the rooms are too small to accommodate the 74 students and three teachers.
“I am feeling very happy now that we have reached a point where we can have a comfortable place for the children,” Principal Loveada Hancel told JIS News.
She said an application for a new school building was made to JSIF some six years ago, but was stalled because the land on which the old school building was constructed is unsuitable.
The Principal said Mr. Rhone readily agreed to donate the land for the building of the school, when he was approached to assist.
“I think it would be a better environment for the children,” she said, noting that the present condition was not conducive for learning.
Mr. Rhone told JIS News that he was happy to assist the school and the community, since they were in “dire distress.” He noted that the manse, which is on a slope, posed a danger to the children.
He said that when he was a child, Bellas Gate produced the most amazing students. “Most of them did well in the world. Some went on to universities from Bellas Gate Primary,” he added.
“Bellas Gate has served my life well. It was an amazing place to grow up as a child. One remembers Christmas which was so special. You met in the square, and had horse racing, goat racing .dressing up in my fancy clothes, and hat made from crepe paper,” he said.
Bringing greetings at the ceremony, Grace Ann Miller, Human Resource Manager at JSIF, commended Mr. Rhone for not only recognizing the needs of the basic school, but also for providing a solution to the problem.
“There are still persons who not only believe in the community development process, but through their own actions reaffirm their commitment to ensuring that the process continues,” she said.
She said that JSIF was looking forward to working with the Bellas Gate Community Development Committee to construct a new fully equipped early childhood institution.