To a tower of strength

Daily Observer (Jamaica) - - NEWS -

de­feat­ing them at least once in com­pe­ti­tion. The school choir also placed sec­ond in the 2015 stag­ing of the All To­gether Sing com­pe­ti­tion, and was the first high school to make it to the fi­nals of the Danc­ing Dy­na­mite com­pe­ti­tion plac­ing third. All this and more, de­spite the lack of struc­tural sup­port, said Humes-john­son.

“This is against the fact that the school does not have a theatre arts teacher. In the last set of JCDC com­pe­ti­tion we were very out­stand­ing in the dance that we sub­mit­ted, and went through to na­tion­als. We also en­tered Boys’ and Girls Champs, and East­ern Champs where we split the 22 schools that par­tic­i­pated, plac­ing 11th, and we don’t have an on-the­ground coach. We also en­tered vol­ley­ball for the first time and we were called upon to be in the tour­na­ment and we went right up to semi-fi­nals. So we know that we have tal­ents here, where if we put cer­tain things in place and if we get the help that we need, we would go very far,” said Humes-john­son.

As part of the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion’s thrust to ex­tend school­ing by two years, the school also of­fers exit ex­am­i­na­tion cer­ti­fi­ca­tion through the Cen­tre of Oc­cu­pa­tional Stud­ies, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with The Moneague Col­lege, as well as the CAP (Ca­reer Ad­vance­ment Pro­gramme).

Vice-prin­ci­pal, Joan Peart-arm­strong told the Sun­day Ob­server that the school has it fair share of chal­lenges, but that the close to 60 staff mem­bers, com­pris­ing aca­demic, ad­min­is­tra­tive and an­cil­lary, along with the stu­dents and par­ents, all work as a fam­ily.

“We re­fer to our­selves as the Iona fam­ily, so we have that type of at­mos­phere here. Whether it’s the par­ents or stu­dents, we see them as part of the fam­ily and we treat them ac­cord­ingly.

“We have our stu­dents who are chal­leng­ing, and where you

find in some other schools they are quick to get rid of them, we work with them to find ways to find out what is hap­pen­ing at home, work­ing with the par­ents, in­volv­ing the guid­ance coun­sel­lor and so on to see what we can do to help those stu­dents to set­tle down and do well.

“Some of our stu­dents do bet­ter at the prac­ti­cal sub­jects, but be­cause so­cial is­sues and fi­nan­cial prob­lems at home we from time to time, put our hands in our own pock­ets. We are in the tourism belt, so there­fore, we try to guide them in that area so they can find jobs,” Peart-Arm­strong said.

Phys­i­cally, the Vice Prin­ci­pal also ad­mit­ted that the stu­dent pop­u­la­tion has ex­ceeded the school’s ca­pac­ity, re­quir­ing at least six ad­di­tional class­rooms. But per­haps an in­ter­est­ing twist to this dilemma is the scenic beauty of the im­mac­u­late school cam­pus. Perched on a slope over­look­ing the Caribbean Sea, hav­ing to some­times host classes out­side for want of class­rooms of­fers much con­so­la­tion.

“The en­vi­ron­ment in which we work, it is very pleas­ing to the eye and it cre­ates that at­mos­phere of calm, re­lax­ation. No mat­ter how chal­leng­ing things be­come, and we do have our chal­lenges at this school, I can al­ways step out­side after deal­ing with a dis­ci­plinary mat­ter. or just hav­ing work on my desk, I can step out­side and I look out at the sea and I look around at the green­ery and it brings some amount of calm,” said Peart-arm­strong

Stu­dent and mem­ber of the Key Club, De­journ Lawrence shared that her school en­vi­ron­ment was some­thing she and her peers were most proud of.

“We love our school grounds most of all. It’s al­ways clean and dur­ing exam time or when we don’t have a class­room, we can just sit out­side and en­joy the breeze.”

Long-stand­ing groundsman, Lin­ford Davis or “Mr Steppa” as he is called by the school com­mu­nity, has been awarded Most out­stand­ing Worker at least three times by the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, and con­tin­ues to serve the in­sti­tu­tion al­though he re­tired in 2016.

“From you come and see how the school look, you know that I love my job,” Davis said.

The school’s cel­e­bra­tion kicks off to­day with a church ser­vice. There will also be a home­com­ing week in June, when a wall of fame in hon­our of those who have con­trib­uted to the growth of the school, will be erected. As part of the cel­e­bra­tion, there will also be a pil­grim­age to Lucky Hill.

“What we are go­ing to do is place a plaque in Goshen in the church, which will state that the school was founded there and that con­tin­ues in Tower Isle as the Iona High School,” Wil­liams told the Sun­day Ob­server.

The cel­e­bra­tions will end in Novem­ber with a Founders’ Lec­ture.

Par­tial rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Iona High School’s aca­demic, ad­min­is­tra­tive and an­cil­lary staff.

Founders of Iona High and Prepara­tory schools, Dr Her­bert Swaby and Gwen­dolyn Swaby.

Stu­dents stroll along the front lawn of the Iona High School.

(Pho­tos: Garfield Robin­son)

Grade 11 Iona High School stu­dents (from left), Kim­berly Gran­di­son; Jalissa By­grave, wear­ing her pre­fect vest, and Dashanae John­son

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