Pastors go to Cayman high schools

For the last several weeks, members
of the Cayman Ministers Association have been making impromptu visits to John Gray
High School and speaking
to students in an informal, outside the classroom setting.

Education Minister Rolston Anglin
said he likes the idea and intends to meet with the minister’s group sometime
this week to discuss plans for the visits to continue into the next school
year.

“What we’re talking about here is
voluntary,” Mr. Anglin said during an interview last week. “This isn’t
something that’s mandated and infused in the curriculum.”

The education minister acknowledged
that he was a bit unclear about how many pastors had visited the schools and at
what times. He understood that most of the previous visits had occurred at John
Gray, and wanted to make sure Grand Cayman’s
other high school – George Hicks – got as much attention.

Mr. Anglin said he envisions the
pastors’ visits to occur in a more relaxed setting which gives the students the
option to interact with them on a personal level. He said he’d like to see
voluntary religious services made available for those students who want to
attend.

“I certainly hope we can get
volunteers from the association to go in, especially during lunchtimes, and
simply be on campus…(to) listen, see and respond to young people,” he said.
“One of the outcomes that…I’m hoping to hear has already started would be – for
example – offering a ‘sermon’, having that option during say a lunchtime.

“It will be announced across the
school campus that (a pastor) will be on campus on Thursday at lunchtime and if
you want to attend, feel free to come.”

Cayman’s public schools will face a
number of challenges during the 2010/11 school year, which starts in September.
Not least among those, Mr. Anglin said, is that encroaching construction from
the expansion of the new John
Gray High
School campus has limited, to some extent, the
number of activities students can participate in.

“We’ve already lost the basketball
and volleyball courts (to) construction of the new high school campus,” he
said.

Moreover, the Royal Cayman Islands
Police Service has become increasingly concerned, since the latter half of last
year, about the apparent gang and drug activity occurring around the public
high schools.

“There have been a series of
incidents at schools that have been drug-related, possession of, use of, that
started to raise concerns,” Mr. Baines said during a December interview.
“There’s going to be an increase in searches and when necessary…body searches,
in appropriate circumstances.”  

The commissioner said police were
alarmed at the ease with which drugs appear to be available at school campuses.
 

Mr. Baines met with Ministry and
Education and Education Department officials late last year to discuss the new
security plans. The commissioner said at the time that he realised there may be
some apprehension about the measures, but indicated schools officials seemed
supportive.

While admitting the increased police
activity was necessary, Mr. Anglin said the visits from the pastors to the high
schools had the potential to impact students in a more positive way.

“It starts to get students closer
to personal relationships that can assist them,” he said. “(It’s) a more organised
way in which students can have access to religious instruction.”

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