Wed | Feb 8, 2023

Aberdeen High ready for classes as storm repairs continue

Published:Monday | September 5, 2022 | 12:09 AMOlivia Brown/Gleaner Writer
Workmen undertake roof repairs to a building at Aberdeen High School in St Elizabeth that was badly damaged by a freak storm in July.
Workmen undertake roof repairs to a building at Aberdeen High School in St Elizabeth that was badly damaged by a freak storm in July.
Geogia Dehany-Stewart, principal of Aberdeen High, and Anthony Foster, chairman of the school board, discuss plans for the reopening of school on September 5. Sections of the school were damaged during a freak storm on Saturday, July 2.
Geogia Dehany-Stewart, principal of Aberdeen High, and Anthony Foster, chairman of the school board, discuss plans for the reopening of school on September 5. Sections of the school were damaged during a freak storm on Saturday, July 2.
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Two months after a freak storm ravaged sections of Aberdeen High in St Elizabeth, administrators say they are ready for the new school year though rehabilitation works are yet to be completed.

On Thursday, work was still under way to repair a section that accommodated two classrooms, the library, and the principal’s office – an area constructed four years ago.

Given the scope of repairs, administrators theorise that completion might linger into October.

Renovation of the sick bay and teachers’ quarters is finished, but work is yet to start on the tuck shop. However, stakeholders anticipate that the facility will be ready for Monday.

The roof of the tuck shop was ripped off by the gusty winds, and a fallen coconut tree damaged the structure.

Furniture, documents, computers, projectors, and beds were among the items destroyed during the freak storm that unleashed its wrath on the 32-year-old institution on July 2.

Damage to the school is estimated at approximately $10 million, but the final bill could rise to $15 million.

According to acting principal Georgia Dehaney-Stewart, the setback caused emotional distress for the school community.

She has described the period as “a roller coaster”, but said staff were managing the challenge well.

“We would have had plans to improve on what we had, and now, we had to divert some of those funds into repairs,” Dehaney-Stewart said in a Gleaner interview.

“Along with the fact that our school is a small school ... it’s a newly transitioned school, and so the competition to have students select this school as a school of choice would have been affected more when it was out there that our school was damaged.”

The two damaged classrooms accommodated grade 11 students.

With the building not yet completed, the principal told The Gleaner that alternative plans are in place to accommodate them elsewhere.

“In terms of the rooming for classes, we would have been housing the grade 11 in the new building, and so they have been displaced, so we are accommodating them in the classrooms from the old building by merging some of the classes to facilitate the grade 11,” said Dehaney-Stewart.

She lauded Ministry of Education representatives and the member of parliament for turning up two days after the storm and coordinating a timely and efficent response.

Anthony Foster, the school’s chairman, shared similar sentiments.

“Through communication with the member of parliament, I know that the minister herself also keeps up-to-date with everything that’s happening here,” he said of Education Minister Fayval Williams.

Foster said that he, too, was pleased with the pace of restoration.

The chairman also lauded members of staff and community folk who he said have been integral to the progress of rehabilitation.

olivia.brown@gleanerjm.com