At the St. Maarten Academy (Academic section), school manager Roberto Arrindell called on the students to get their acts together and be prepared to work harder this year. Arrindell specifically called on the new fifth formers to focus and study so that they can perform well at the Caribbean Examinations next year. "We are the number one on the island and you need to keep us there by working hard and playing less. With hard work we will maintain our standards and remain the number one high school on St. Maarten." The St. Maarten Academy added four new teachers to their staff this school year.
At the Asha Stevens Christian Hillside School in Cay Hill, controllers kept the flow moving as parents and students headed towards the makeshift parking lot to join the shuttles that took the students and their parents to the school. One of the inconveniences parents had to endure is that while they were taken up to the school by shuttle to meet their children's teachers and visit the new state of the art school, they were forced to walk back down the hill to retrieve their vehicles that were parked at the makeshift parking lot.
Controllers on the scene said the contractors that are building the roadway to the school do not seem to know what they are doing. One of the controllers pointed out the sharp and deep "S" curb at the entrance of the access road to the school that is not necessary. The government controllers told SMN News that the contractor does not seem to realize that Welgelegen Road is a busy road and it's a road that is often used by the fire department (fire trucks) and the ambulances. These vehicles have right of way and they would not need a school bus filled with children blocking their way as they rush through that street. "The school bus drivers must be able to turn quickly and get off Welgelegen Road leaving it free for emergency vehicles."
Teachers, students, and the staff of the Marie Genevieve de Weever School were extremely happy when they returned to school on Monday. Principal of the school Rita Bourne said that it felt like a huge weight was lifted off the school now that one section of the school is fully completed. She said at the moment the upper floor of the new wing is not yet in use because the staff needs to take their time and move their classrooms from the lower floor to the upper floor to create space in the new wing for the students that are in the old section of the school. Bourne said that the students will be fully moved by the end of the week.
Principal Rita Bourne gave Cloyd Marlin lots of credit for his hard work this past week. She said a week ago it seemed impossible that the school would look the way it is today but the younger Marlin stayed on the site almost 24/7 to make sure the school was fully ready for Monday August 13th.
At the Prins Willem Alexander School (John Larmonie) in St. Peters, teachers and students were not so happy because several of the classrooms were without electricity. Students had to be relocated from one classroom to the next because of the hazardous electrical situation.
In an invited comment, Minister of Education Silveria Jacobs said that she visited most of the schools on the island Monday morning to make sure everything was in order. The Education Minister said that she also visited the Prins Willem Alexander School and saw that there was maintenance that still had to be done.
Minister Jacobs said that the maintenance at the Prins Willem Alexander School was delayed due to the lack of manpower and material. The Education Minister said that certain businesses on the island have been refusing government purchase orders because it takes a few weeks for them to be paid while government will make deductions from the payments for those businesses that are delinquent in their tax payments.
The Minister assured that despite the minor set-backs classes will not be disturbed and the repairs and or maintenance that has to take place will be done after school hours and it should be completed within a few days.
Overcrowding and Lack of Space.
On Monday there were several parents who showed up at certain schools to have their children registered but could not because of the lack of space. At the St. Maarten Academy (Academic) section, there were a few parents who sat there waiting to see if their children would be accepted.
Principal of the St. Maarten Academy Shareed Hussein said registration is still ongoing at his school. He said just recently some 30 students wrote the entrance examination to enter the St. Maarten Academy and a decision is yet to be taken on how much of those students qualified for the academic section. Hussein said the St. Maarten Academy is supposed to have 500 students and they are already close to their allotted amount. Hussein assured that if a child is qualified to enter the St. Maarten Academy he will do all in his power to accommodate that child because they do not want to deny any child an education.
In the meantime, the Minister of Education is calling on all parents whose children did not get into school to register their children at the Department of Education. Minister Jacobs said government cannot force any government subsidized school to take more students than they are receiving subsidy for. However, if the children are registered at the Department of Education they will be placed in one of the government schools that have space.
Click here to view more photos of Back to School for the School year 2012- 2013.