July 1, 2005
GHS still leading with excellence

The St. Vincent Girls’ High School (GHS) has been maintaining its position as the leading secondary school in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This was made clear at the school’s annual graduation and prize giving ceremony held on Tuesday June 28 at the St. George’s Cathedral, Kingstown.{{more}}

In her address, the school’s Headmistress Andrea Bowman, giving her first report since being appointed in July 2004, recited a series of successes recorded by the students of the 94-year-old institution. The school, she said, was awarded the Caribbean Examinations Council’s (CXC) award for the school with the best national results in 2004. The 114 students who wrote the CXC Certificate of Secondary Education Exams (CSEC) last year, attained an overall pass rate of 96.1% which included 100% passes in 11 of the 21 subjects written. This far surpassed the national average pass rate of 73%, and the school’s 2003 pass rate of 93.1%.

Bowman said that the current graduating class had a 95% pass rate in the first and second term exams, yet she remains “optimistic” about their CSEC results, quipping “they may not surpass the 96.1% of the 2004 class, but they may equal it.”

Her address was punctuated by loud cheers from the students as they reflected on their many successes over the past year, including being judged winners of the 2005 RBTT Young Leaders Competition.

Bowman noted that while the vast majority of the students were performing at a consistently high level, “a few of our girls are struggling with a literacy level which ill prepares them for an academic secondary education.” In some of these cases, the school has been able to source remedial and financial assistance for the students. The process of remediation she said, “is slow and painstaking, not to mention expensive,” and would only work if the girls involved took “ownership of their remediation process.” No easy task she opined, especially “in the setting of the Girls’ High School. It is easy for them to pretend that they do not need remediation.”

She called on parents and guardians to be “tenacious in ensuring that their daughters and wards are exposed to the requisite remediation processes,” and said there was no point in lamenting the fact that their child or ward needed help, or pointing blame. The school she said would provide the necessary direction.

The Headmistress described the level of discipline at the school as satisfactory. Out of a student body of 844, there are 10 students whom she referred to as “repeat offenders.” These students she said are “not responding positively to the disciplinary measures at the school’s disposal.” She described these students as being at risk, and said that although they only represented 1.2% of the school’s population, the school cannot be complacent, and a support system needs to be developed to deal with students like these.

In closing, Bowman thanked the Ministry of Education for their support and the school for welcoming her back after an absence of 27 years, having been a member of the graduating class of 1977.

GHS graduating class of 1955

The feature speaker was educator Jeannette France, a member of the GHS graduating class of 1955, which is in the middle of its 50th anniversary celebrations. Six of the 40 students who graduated in 1955 were present at Tuesday’s ceremony.

In her address, France called on the young ladies to “think outside the box” and choose a career that will help to build St. Vincent and the Grenadines. She joined the Headmistress in her earlier call for the graduands to consider teaching as a career. She added that today’s youth have been labeled as being “obsessed with entertainment” and “culturally impoverished”. They, as young people would therefore have to “work hard to remove this label and show (themselves) worthy of being called a proud Vincentian.”

As the graduating class sweetly rendered the school song for the final time as students, there was hardly a dry eye among them as they got to the final verse of the song penned by past student, Yvonne Gaynes. “And when we leave her portals, we often will return; With love and eager longing, our loyal hearts will burn; And oft in thought we’ll wander, along the pathways cool, of our dear Alma Mater, St. Vincent Girls’ High School.”