JIS: Students and staff at the Runaway Bay All-Age School in St. Ann started the new school year on Monday (September 3) in more spacious surroundings.
Food For the Poor, through partnership with 13-year\-old donor Rafe Cochran, constructed two new blocks at the school, comprising six classrooms, bathrooms and an office area.
The youngster, who hails from South Florida, contributed the proceeds from his annual Rafe Cochran Golf Classic for the school expansion project.
School Principal, Lambert Pearson, in expressing gratitude, said the new buildings have provided improved accommodation for the institution’s 400 students.
“This, most certainly, will improve our conditions for learning, and I’m sure that our performance will continue to grow,” Mr. Pearson said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 31.
For her part, Director of Recipient Services at Food For the Poor Jamaica, Susan Moore, noted that the modern facilities provided will not only improve the school’s physical environment, but also enhance learning.
“At Food For the Poor, we are certainly aware of the interaction between the physical spaces and the learning environment,” she outlined.
“The building alone cannot infuse the passion and vision that guides the school’s development; it’s the human spirit and interaction between the teachers and the students that will make the difference and ensure the new building supports a higher level of learning,” she pointed out.
Ms. Moore thanked Rafe for partnering with Food For the Poor Jamaica on this “well-needed project”.
Rafe has been supporting the work of Food For the Poor in Jamaica through his annual golf classic, which he organised with the help of his parents, Jay and Diahann Cochran.
He told JIS News that his philanthropic efforts stemmed from a visit his grade-three class made to the Food For the Poor headquarters in Florida a few years ago. Since then, he has been working with the charity to erect schools and homes.
He said he selected Runaway Bay All-Age this year “because I truly felt the need to help. I felt if these students and teachers had a better building to provide the opportunity of education, it would motivate and help the students achieve their goals”.
Teacher, Nicolette Fisher expressed pleasure about the new additions to the school’s infrastructure. “I think it’s a great initiative, and we have more space; it’s more comfortable, so I am really looking forward to working in the space,” she said.
Ms. Fisher noted that with the new classrooms, which will accommodate grades four, five and six students, she expects that the school will continue to excel.
Parent Marlene Edwards, shared similar sentiments.
“We are very excited about getting these buildings. As a parent, I’m sure that my (two) children will benefit, so we are thankful to Rafe and his family, as well as Food For the Poor (Jamaica), for donating same,” she said.
Also expressing gratitude was 11-year-old student, Janelle Spencer, who said she was “so thrilled and thankful to Food For the Poor Jamaica for doing this for Runaway Bay All-Age School. I have been inspired today because a child (Rafe Cochran) really did this. He made this school his project, so I am really inspired”.
The 60-year-old Runaway Bay All-Age transitioned from the shift system in 2014, and over the years, has seen steady improvement in the Grade Four Literacy and Numeracy examination and the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).
The school principal informed that in the first year after the shift system ended, there was a 20 per cent increase in the Grade Four Literacy and Numeracy Test passes and the scores have been trending up for GSAT as well, with passes up 11 per cent. Students are involved in the 4-H movement, reading and math clubs, Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) festival competitions, and they do well in football, cricket and athletics.
CAPTION: Students from the Runaway Bay All-Age School line up to view the two new classrooms blocks that were constructed by Food For the Poor in collaboration with 13-year old-donor Rafe Cochran. The new classroom blocks were officially handed over to the school’s administration on August 31.