Last weeks of school were action-packed

Sir John A. Cumber students got together for an impressive talent show to display their appreciation to the school’s many dedicated volunteers.

Students at West Bay’s Sir John A. Cumber Primary School enjoyed a variety of activities and events over the past few weeks in the lead-up to the end of the school year, including a careers fair, the school leaving ceremony and a volunteer appreciation event.

The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman hosted the careers day for the Year 6 classes on June 20. It was jointly organized by The Ritz-Carlton’s human resources manager Kristen Ford and Sir John A. Cumber teacher Annette Vaughan, who is the school’s library resources and buddy reading coordinator.

“We took advantage of the opportunity to channel the students’ thinking and create that early career awareness as they prepare to move on to high school,” said Ms. Vaughan.

“Some research indicates students are more focused, settled and directed when they have had early exposure to careers days, such as the one hosted by The Ritz-Carlton,” she added. “It widens their career spectrum and interests and intrinsically motivates them.”

The SOY Awards winners with, from left, Guidance Counsellor Elysia Murray, Year 6 teacher Shakeina Bush, Year 6 teacher and head of mathematics Rhuel Smith, George Roper, and Sir John A. Cumber head of Juniors Courtney Perrin.
The SOY Awards winners with, from left, Guidance Counsellor Elysia Murray, Year 6 teacher Shakeina Bush, Year 6 teacher and head of mathematics Rhuel Smith, George Roper, and Sir John A. Cumber head of Juniors Courtney Perrin.

An example of a student who has already developed an interest in a specific career is K’Neal Ebanks, who at 11 years old and with the encouragement of mentors like Ritz-Carlton pastry chef Crystal Marshall, has decided he wants to be a pastry chef. He has even made his own promotional video of him baking a cake in his mother’s kitchen at home.

The hotel’s hospitality, banquets, food and beverage, culinary, engineering, finance and Ambassadors of the Environment departments were also represented at the careers day, offering some unique experiences.

The students learned how to mix drinks from mixologist Carlos Cortes, and then got to mix and then drink their very own non-alcoholic drinks. At the hospitality booth, the students tested their skills and creativity at making various animals out of towels, while at the engineering booth Jonathan Reyna taught the students how to work safely with nuts and bolts, screwdrivers and wrenches.

Lune Vermeire from the Ambassadors of the Environment talked to the students about preserving the environment and about careers within that field, like scuba diving. They also learned about the department’s efforts to reuse, reduce and recycle.

A few days later, the whole school came together for the end-of-year prize giving and award ceremony which was held on June 27. Students throughout the school were awarded or given special recognition for consistent effort, improvement, good citizenship and good behavior. Selected students were also given Save Our Youth Achievement Medallion Awards, which were presented by award founder George Roper.

“The SOY Achievement Medallion Award seeks to recognize hard-working, well-behaved and community minded students,” explained Ms. Vaughan.

“It offers an opportunity to publicly praise those students who deserve to be rewarded for their efforts.”

Lune Vermeire from Ambassadors of the Environment chats with Year 6 students at the careers day.
Lune Vermeire from Ambassadors of the Environment chats with Year 6 students at the careers day.

The award is aimed at students who have demonstrated either the ability to lead and inspire others by example, significant academic improvement, an exemplary attitude and behavior, love for the learning process, and/or community spirit for the school and the Cayman Islands.

“Overall, the recipients should have demonstrated effort above and beyond classroom expectations,” said Ms. Vaughan.

“Those recipients were also recognized for improvement in their Diagnostic Reading Assessment.”

On Wednesday, June 29, the school held a special event honoring the many volunteers who have given their time to the students over the year. Students put on an impressive Hollywood-themed talent show, headed by music teacher Rebekah Jefferson, for the many volunteers, school staff and parents in attendance, as well as Minister of Education Tara Rivers.

Among the volunteers who were recognized were individuals from the various paired and buddy reading programs, including The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, and Literacy is for Everyone (LIFE) in conjunction with Rotary Club of Grand Cayman Sunrise and Cayman Islands Trust Company. Mention was also made of other consistent volunteers, including Dr. Wilmoth Shillingford from the West Bay clinic who presents to the Year 4 students every year, staff from the Department of the Environment and Department of Environmental Health, Catherine Childs from the National Trust, members of the Cayman Islands Association of Professional Accountants who assist Years 5 and 6 with mathematics, and Camila Costa and her team from Barjack at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, as well as the many parents.

Lloyd Barker, a “Proud of Them” honoree and Barbados’s 2014 Man of the Year recipient, served as Master of Ceremonies.

Students recited an acrostic poem spelling out “thanks” and presented cards with personal notes to their reading buddies. Deputy Principal Steve Coles and Acting Principal Lorna Lumsden both expressed appreciation to the volunteers for their time and contributions to the school and students throughout the year.

Certificates of appreciation were presented by Ms. Rivers to Woody Foster, representing Rotary and LIFE, Ritz-Carlton human resources manager Laura McCauley on behalf of the buddy reading team, and Barjack food and beverage supervisor Camila Costa on behalf of her team. They had assisted with reorganizing the library and other tasks at the school.

Among other volunteers in attendance were LIFE program executive director Marilyn Conolly, The Ritz-Carlton’s Tonya Adams, Matthew Volkwyn and Desiree Kelly from Advantage Insurance, assistant vice president of Marsh Insurance and Risk Advisory Services Sehli Dube, and Beth Henry from the same company.

The audience enjoyed the “Soul Sisters” – Rebekah Jefferson, Xhailecia Grayson and Mickayla Dickens – who sang “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Other performances included a drum solo by Michail Michelin, a song by Esabela Medina, and dances by Tavez Varona and Brooklyn Ebanks.

Another highlight of the morning was a fashion show.