Wed | Jun 19, 2024

‘Violence doesn’t belong in schools’

Mona, Calabar host joint assembly to defuse tensions

Published:Wednesday | April 24, 2024 | 12:10 AMSashana Small/Staff Reporter
Sian Wilson (right), acting principal of Calabar High School, shakes hands with female students of Mona High School when she and several boys from the Red Hills Road-based institution visited the school to participate in the devotion on Tuesday.
Sian Wilson (right), acting principal of Calabar High School, shakes hands with female students of Mona High School when she and several boys from the Red Hills Road-based institution visited the school to participate in the devotion on Tuesday.
Nicholas Lumley (left), head boy of Mona High, and Zachary Walker, president of Calabar High’s Students’ Council, discussing ways to keep the communication going between both schools after an incident between students from both schools ignited a brawl
Nicholas Lumley (left), head boy of Mona High, and Zachary Walker, president of Calabar High’s Students’ Council, discussing ways to keep the communication going between both schools after an incident between students from both schools ignited a brawl last week.
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Messages of peace reverberated through the walls of Mona High School, St Andrew on Monday, as the institution teamed up with Calabar High School for a joint assembly in an effort to defuse tensions amid a recent flare-up of violence among several Corporate Area schools.

“It has marred our reputation to an extent, it is not what we stand for as schools – Calabar and Mona High schools, we don’t believe in that sort of thing, we don’t want any form of violence amongst students, it is wrong,” declared Principal of Mona High School, Keven Jones.

The tension, triggered by an alleged love triangle involving a student of The Queen’s School, resulted in two public brawls at the Transport Centre in Half Way Tree, St Andrew, last week, where at least three students sustained minor injuries.

Several other Corporate Area schools were also drawn into the conflict.

But in the devotional assembly, led by a delegation of students from Calabar High, students of both schools committed to moving past the dispute and striving to attain harmony.

President of the student council body of Red Hills Road-based institution Calabar High, Zachary Walker, and head boy of Mona High, Nicholas Lumley read a joint peace speech in which both schools pledged their commitment to harmony, peace, respect and cooperation among all students.

“In the event of disagreement or conflicts which will arise, we will seek peaceful and constructive solutions, mediation and compromise with the goal of preserving and well-being of all students,” they said.

The institutions also indicated their intention to explore the potential of organising further joint activities that will promote friendship, cultural exchange and mutual understanding between the student bodies and contribute to nation building.

Jones further reinforced their message.

‘BURY THE HATCHET’

“We want this to be a thing of the past, we don’t want to make reference to it after this, we have to bury the hatchet and move on, and we just have to do everything in our power to ensure that this sort of incident does not happen again,” he said.

Acting Principal of Calabar High School, Sian Wilson, emphasised the “tremendous respect” that both institutions have for each other, and that the conflict is as a result of “few boys who have taken it upon themselves to resort to violence because of whatever misunderstanding they may be having”.

Meanwhile, Richard Troupe, director for safety and security in schools at the Ministry of Education, noted that the ministry, in collaboration with principals of the Corporate Area schools that were involved in the violent altercations last week, has devised an eight-point plan to resolve the issue.

He shared that this includes yesterday’s joint assembly at Mona High and indicated that a similar activity will be hosted at Calabar High School on Friday.

Additionally, he stated that Campion College will be facilitating a restorative justice session with students involved in the incidents. This will be done in partnership with the Ministry of Justice.

“The children must recognise that beyond the sanctions that are already applied, they need the support to heal. What has transpired must not define their future, they have a responsibility,” he told The Gleaner.

Further, he said St George’s College will accommodate student leaders from the different schools in a forum to develop plans on how they will help to maintain peace in schools through their various student-led organisations.

Important too, he stressed, is the dialogue that the schools are having with the parents of students involved in the incident.

“These interventions are to signal to our schools and students and to the general public that beyond the shock and awe and disappointment and frustration, we have a responsibility to support and to guide and to mould our nation’s children to become their true selves,” he said.

At the same time, Troupe defended the effectiveness of the education ministry’s various initiatives aimed at ending violence in schools.

“The interventions that would have been pursued and we continue to pursue as a Ministry of Education to treat with school violence, they have been making a profound impact on our education system and our students,” he said.

sashana.small@gleanerjm.com