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Students of the St. Andrew High School (SAHS) for girls are benefiting from the renovation and refurbishing of their school's science laboratory and the Fay Saunders Counselling Centre, valued at over $7.8 million.

Education Minister, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, was on hand to officially rededicate the lab and the counselling centre, during a blessing and rededication service at the school on Friday (September 21).

The biology and integrated science laboratory, dubbed 'LAB35', was renovated and refurbished at a cost of $6 million, through the hard work and contributions of the

St. Andrew High School Foundation, the Jamaica National Building Society, and the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica as well as members of the school's Parent Teachers Association (PTA) and past students.

The facility has been upgraded with new benches, which have been covered with durable chemical-resistant surfaces, and supplied with sinks, water, gas and electrical outlets. Additionally, gas lines have been replaced and a new teacher’s demonstration desk has been installed.

There is also new secured storage for apparatus, equipment, chemicals and specimens. The staff offices adjacent to the lab have also been equipped with cabinets, durable shelves and sinks.    

Director of the St. Andrew High School  Foundation, Professor Elsa Leo Rhynie, noted that the renovation and refurbishing of the lab was quite timely, as some of the labs at the school are almost 70 years old.                                                                   

"The Foundation saw the urgent need for their rehabilitation and refurbishing for use in a 21st Century school like St. Andrew," she said, and pointed out that the organisation hopes to continue its efforts with the refurbishing of at least one of the other three science labs in the summer of 2013.

President of the school's PTA, Professor Dale Webber, informed that the counselling centre was refurbished at a cost of more than $1.8 million. The centre, which is named in honour of former principal, Fay Saunders, was extended to accommodate additional students and storage space.

In the meantime, Rev. Thwaites encouraged the students to make good use of the opportunities offered by the school and to take care of the resources.

He further encouraged the students to appreciate the gift of being educated at St. Andrew High School, "because here you’re not only going to be offered a good academic education, but you're also going to receive a complete social orientation to adult life…and a spiritual grounding as well," he said.

Principal, Sharon Reid, said the school was committed to providing the students with a well-rounded education experience.

"Secondary education must be about the total development of the child. Therefore, while academic excellence should be the hallmark of any successful educational institution, the social and emotional health of our students is equally important," she said.

The school, which is celebrating its 87th anniversary under the theme, 'Jamaica 50/SAHS 87 – A Nation on a Mission, a School with a Vision', was also presented with a cheque for $250,000 by the St. Andrew High School Old Girls' Association. The donation will go towards the purchasing of electronic white boards and the acquisition of the Fay Simpson property located next door.