George Town facilities to be expanded, district centres planned
Instructors and students of the Community Vocational Training Centre celebrated their first awards ceremony on 22 November, when participants earned certificates for course work in air conditioning, customer service and electrical apprenticeship.
The programme listed 44 certificates presented, but only 37 names were called – for a good reason. Master of ceremonies Lorna Bush, who is the centre’s administrator and a tutor, said several students took advantage of the training opportunities and completed work in more than one course. Classes began immediately after the centre opened in July.
During the ceremony in the attractively decorated George Town Primary School Hall, district Member of the Legislative Assembly Ellio Solomon presented eight certificates for the air conditioning course, 15 for the “Optimum Customer Care” course and 21 for the electrical programme. Allan Moore, founder of the training centre, announced nine students had been placed in the workforce.
Many students will be coming back in January for more study, Ms Bush told the audience of graduates’ relatives and friends, along with neighbourhood residents. She also said students will be receiving practical experience because of grants to the centre. It has already outgrown its first home in the C&M Building on School Road in George Town, near the annex football field. Not far away, another site originally proposed for the primary school expansion was no longer needed for that purpose and will be the new location for the Community Vocational Training Centre. Three portable classrooms decommissioned from school use have been turned over to the training centre, she said.
“Our own students will get their practical experience building their own school over the next two months,” Ms Bush exulted.
James Adrian Nixon, recipient of the Premier’s Award, delivered the students’ address. He thanked Mr. Moore and course instructors for their commitment to the programme. On behalf of his classmates, he promised, “We will not let you down. We will do our part in the community.” He pointed out that the graduation ceremony was not the end: “There’s a lot in store for us,” Mr. Nixon declared.
Guest speaker for the evening was Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush. Mr. Bush said, “All of you – students and instructors – are sitting here today because you committed yourselves to achieving this goal, and together you have reached this first milestone. I am most pleased to be part of this celebration of a true community achievement.”
Mr. Bush said the award ceremony was especially welcome in a time with a lot of bad news. But, noting the full hall, he could add, “Good things still happen in these Islands.” He commended the instructors and supporters for their vision and their willingness to lift up others.
The premier referred to an announcement Mr. Moore had made in his opening remarks – that organisers of the centre were in discussion for a similar training programme in West Bay, while their dreams were also for the eastern districts and Cayman Brac.
“I’m right there with him,” Mr. Bush pledged, adding that this was what the Nation Building Fund was all about. “It is meant to help the Allan Moores of the Cayman Islands. His passion is helping others. Government must boost him,” he asserted.
The premier revealed to the younger generation that he had attended school at that same compound, when it was the Secondary Modern School. After he left for Christmas break, school officials sent a message to his mother: “He can’t come back in January. We don’t have space.” That was why he didn’t get to go to high school, he explained. He had wanted to be a lawyer or a teacher, but there were no scholarships and his mother, who worked as a maid, couldn’t afford tuition fees.
There were teachers who railed against the system and things have improved over the years, Mr. Bush said. But more than air-conditioned classrooms, what was needed were more teachers – more Allan Moores of the world, he urged.
One highlight of the evening was the presentation of special awards to students whose level of achievement had been outstanding in the different courses.
In addition to the Premier’s Award, presented by Mr. Bush himself to James Nixon, there were five others. On behalf of his father, Kent Rankin, Kenny Rankin presented the Paramount Award top electrical apprentice Emmanuel Brown. Mr. Moore asked pioneer electrician Everton Bell to present the Frank Scotland Award to Demesio Frederick, a graduate in both the electrical and customer services courses. Instructor Carl Hudson presented the air-conditioning achievement award to Chully Chambers, who also earned the electrical apprenticeship certificate.
The Allan R. Moore Award went to Hardie Welcome, another double-certificate achiever, for what Mr. Moore called his everyday determination and will to consistently improve. Having paid tribute earlier to senior residents in the area for their role as “neighbourhood policemen” during his childhood, Mr. Moore invited Miss Alviney Watson to present the award in his name.
Also taking part in the programme were student Earle Hills, who led the opening prayer, and Melanie Moore, who gave the vote of thanks. Refreshments followed for the graduates and their guests.