Monkeying around at school

St. Ignatius students in Year 1A welcomed a very special visitor to the Cayman Islands this past month – ‘Junior’ the Monkey

Junior began his travels in Belfast, in Northern Ireland, and he is so important that he was personally escorted to the Cayman Islands by a member of the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism’s London Office – who happened to be escorting a travel agent familiarisation trip as well, said a DoT press release.

Junior, at approximately four inches long, soft and definitely well-loved, is not exactly a ‘VIP’ – but rather a ‘VIM’, or a Very Important Monkey – and this little monkey began his third major overseas trip from Downey House School in Belfast, and his first stop was Grand Cayman. ‘Once he arrived in the Cayman Islands Junior spent his time with students from Year 1A exploring the islands and reporting his findings back to his friends in Belfast,’ said the release.

Carole Colhoun, teacher of Primary 2, Downey House Prep School, in Belfast, Northern Ireland came up with the idea. She says: ‘We were looking for ways to make Geography more of a stimulating subject for our pupils, and although taking the entire class around the world would be the best way to do it overseas field trips are not a feasible option for obvious reasons. That’s when we came up with the idea of sending the class’s favourite cuddly mascot instead, and it has worked brilliantly. Junior has a travel schedule that would faze even the most seasoned traveller – but he takes it all in his stride and the kids back at home are hanging on his every email and photo.’

Jennifer Abels, teacher of Year 1A, at St. Ignatius commented: ‘We were delighted to host Junior while he was here in the Cayman Islands. He went home with several of the students, attended birthday parties, joined in our Pirates Week and our Reading Week activities, and was able to see our beautiful reefs and fish when he went on the Nautilus.

‘Students wrote in his log book about their adventures with Junior, and as a class we added in information about the history and culture of all three Cayman Islands, and some of our more famous attractions such as Stingray City and our rare Blue Iguanas. This was a fun project and we would like to thank the Department of Tourism for bringing this opportunity to our school,’ she finished.

After Junior completed his schoolwork in Grand Cayman in early December, he continued on to California where his lessons will continue. Junior’s travels will take him to the US, Canada, Australia, Czechoslovakia, England and Wales before he heads home – perhaps a little travel weary and jet lagged – to Northern Ireland.

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