~ Seeking public’s help ~
PHILIPSBURG–Charlotte Brookson Academy (CBA) of the Performance Arts is hoping to relocate its 117 students and staff members from their current location at University of St. Martin (USM) to the old Government Administration Building on Pond Island by November 30.
CBA has been located at USM for the past five years and has been searching for a new location for the past three. “It was never the intention of CBA to remain at USM this long. However, [there was – Ed.] the challenge of not being able to obtain financing from a bank in order to be able to afford a suitable location for the school (had one been available),” CBA Manager Claudette Forsythe-Labega told The Daily Herald.
Some of the challenges the school is encountering with its plans to move are the need for materials such as desks and chairs, whiteboards, manpower, funds for the purchase of materials such as a tent for outdoors, refrigerator for canteen and storage cabinets. Also, the old Government Administration Building needs to be re-partitioned into classrooms and it needs to be thoroughly cleaned.
“We also need a properly functioning multi-tasking copy machine, daily cleaning service and meals for the less fortunate,” Forsythe-Labega said. CBA has approached other school boards to request a donation of any unused desks and chairs they may have. “We have been pricing white boards – we need at least 12. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
“We are also in the process of approaching the private sector for donations. We are in close contact with the Prime Minister [William Marlin – Ed.] as well as the civil servants responsible for Facility Services, VROMI [Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure – Ed.] and Ministry of Education to get the process started. We are mobilising the parents/guardians of the students to assist in whatever way they can e.g. fathers who are handy can assist with setting up the recreational area in the back parking lot, helping with the moving of furniture and books etc.,” she explained.
She said the public can assist by offering any assistance possible, whether it is financial or assistance with moving, the set-up of classrooms and donation of items needed.
CBA Board member May-Ling Chun encourages the public to come out and support the school. “As member of the board, I congratulate the school’s management and staff for the hard work it has been doing in bringing out the talent of our kids regardless of the several challenges that the school has been facing,” Chun said.
“We will have a Christmas showcase during the month of December. It will be an opportunity for the students to showcase what they have learned comprising visual arts, performing arts and spoken word, etc. We have a lot of talent in the school that we will show and tell. It will be a fundraiser and the members of the community including the service clubs, corporate sector and philanthropists are being called upon to assist these efforts.
“Dates for the showcase will be announced soon. Please come out and help us strengthen,” she added.
Forsythe-Labega said the institution is grateful to Marlin for his “support and for following up on his commitment to CBA students and parents.”
“The search for a new location has been long. For the past three years, we have searched and asked for suitable locations and practically checked out all available options on the island. However, the prices were prohibitive.”
She said Marlin responded to CBA’s plea for assistance and personally took it upon himself to make it happen. “We thank him for this as we continue to work closely with him and our supporters in setting up the place.”
She said as CBA gears itself for the next phase of its development, it is happy to have a location that provides a space that is conducive for developing students’ skills in the arts as well as the academics. “Our first cohorts of students will be writing their first Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) criteria during this academic school year 2016-2017. It is therefore critical that we have the space properly set up soon.”
CBA students are, in the meantime, high in praises for the education they receive at the institution. Student Lian Chun said arts and academic integration is “really good” and CBA has given her a chance to integrate these two.
“Having dance helps me to focus on my academic courses because of the discipline that we learn through the arts. Managing my time, being able to plan and focus are some of the skills learned that assist me to stay on track. It has also helped me to become more expressive,” she said.
“The challenge is that I had to move out of the school in order to take online courses to prepare me for admission into a prestigious dance academy. I now attend the Key Stone High School which offers online virtual programme. This is because at the time I wanted to start to specialise in the arts and do more dance as a performing arts student, the school was advised by the Inspectorate to focus more on the academic classes,” Lian Chun said.
Another student said CBA is a safe, secure and friendly place to learn. “There is no bullying here at our school; not like other schools. I felt welcomed in my first year at CBA and my second year has been wonderful. I have never felt any bad things here at the school. I like the behaviour of everyone because there is no violence like in other schools for instance stabbing, fighting and bullying. The challenge has been space for us. Moving to a new place will be different for us, but I know that Mrs. Forsythe-Labega will make sure our school is in good hands.”
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/61581-cba-plans-to-relocate-to-govt-building-by-nov-30