Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen says that as Jamaica celebrates fifty years of independence it is time to reflect on the achievements of the past and plan with prudence for the next fifty years. The Governor-General was speaking on Thursday (Apr. 25) at McGrath High School in St. Catherine while on the second leg of his island wide parish tours.
In an address to students and staff at the institution, the Governor-General said he was impressed by the achievements of the school in its 42 year history, as well as the creativity demonstrated by the students. He said that while they will face great challenges, it is their ability to surmount those challenges that will enable them to emerge victorious. “This is a critical part of your development as it is through this crucible that you will emerge as successful as those who have walked these halls before you,” Sir Patrick Allen told the gathering.
He also urged students to remain steadfast and focus on achieving their goals while believing that there is nothing about them that cannot be made better by what is great about them. “I urge you students to make the best of every moment spent in this learning community as you will only walk this way once,” the Governor-General said.
Located in Treadway, St. Catherine, McGrath High School was established in 1970 with 590 students and today has an enrollment of 1200. Unlike many high schools in the parish, McGrath has a sixth form which was added in 2005 and has achieved 100% CSEC passes in areas such as Food and Nutrition, Integrated Science, Principles of Accounts and Principles of Business. The school also received the Marcus Garvey Award for “Best Male vocal” in the JCDC competition and emerged third in the I-3 Computer Competition.
The Governor-General and Lady Allen were taken on a tour of the school to view its Coconut Water Processing Plant, Learning and Resource Centre, Science Laboratory, and Technical Drawing Classroom. The Governor-General also planted a breadfruit tree on the school’s farm to commemorate the visit.
During his tour of the parish, the Governor Genera and Lady Allen also visited Ewarton and Spring Village where they were greeted by members of the Ewarton Community Action Development Committee and the Spring Village Development Foundation respectively. Among those who turned out to meet the Governor-General in Ewarton where centenarians Sylvia Leslie, Ezekiel Marshall and Cladius Jonalson as well as wife of former Custos Gladstone Lewars.
Sir Patrick Allen commended the stakeholders of both communities and said that the most important thing that communities can do is to create a stable environment where young people can grow and have values inculcated and reinforced in them. He noted that communities which have structured development programmes are more likely to be stable and have higher rates of achievement among young people. He said the successes achieved by both communities were based on a shared vision of success and evidence of belief in oneself, community and ultimately one’s country.
In Ewarton the Governor-General and Lady Allen met with Peace Corps representatives and toured the ECODAC Skills Training Centre; Garment Factory and Water Harvesting and Bio-Sand Filtration System. Over in Spring Village Sir Patrick Allen was met by the Eagles Star Drum Corps and received an overwhelming welcome from residents of the community. He also visited Old Harbour Bay for a tour of the Doctor Bird Power Station where he was introduced to interns employed to the station as well as scholarship recipients.
The parish tours began in St. James in March and form part of King’s House celebration of Jamaica 50. Sir Patrick Allen said that one of the best ways to celebrate Jamaica’s 50th anniversary is for him to meet with nation builders; teachers and students of our schools, members of our communities and workers in industries who are the engine of this great nation.