The secondary modern high school opened 50 years ago this year on The Brac and boldly boasts of students excelling in CXC, IGCSE and in other extracurricular activities.
“What so ever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might” was the motto when we attended the school. Students have won countless inter-island school debates, excelled in mathematics and science fairs and in sports.
There was a time if a female student became impregnated, the lass would have been expelled and not allowed to graduate. Today, a young student discovered pregnant is still allowed to walk the aisle and receive her diploma in certain instances. In the past, if a student did not possess the correct uniform, one could also be expelled and not allowed to graduate. Times have changed.
Today’s faculty will no doubt have issues with lack of discipline and lack of self-control on the part of some scholars; yet there is no comparison of the physical altercations of years gone by where a student would angrily assault a teacher. Once a male student injured another male with a baseball bat for flirting with his girlfriend. We hear of no such bad news these days. Bus wardens didn’t ride on buses and once an off duty police officer had to board the bus at a bus stop to separate a serious student fight.
Many good teachers have served and given of their best to the education of Brac high schoolers over the many years. An often thankless profession, many Brackers and Caymanians are not choosing a vocation in education as teachers. Those who are trained usually leave after becoming frustrated with the system that they perceive is working against them. As a result, the high school is staffed with teachers from Jamaica and other Caribbean islands, North America and the U.K. There’s a lack of Caymanian history, though general Caribbean history and world history form part of the school’s curriculum.
There is but one female security officer to protect property, staff and students. The security officer is unarmed. A few students (not normally allowed the wifi passcode) have been reported for texting inappropriately and “sexting” on a campus where smartphones are not allowed in classrooms. This does not make headlines in local newspapers, instead bullets found on campus makes the news. What is next? A gun brought into school by a troubled teenage student? God forbid.
During break and lunchtimes there needs to be more staff on duty to monitor students from getting into unbecoming behavior. At an age where older teens will naturally start dating someone of the opposite sex their age (or same-sex), fondling and inappropriate sexual experimentations should not be tolerated, yet continues to happen. A parent once entered the school compound at the close of the school day only to discover her daughter in the changing room with an older male who had already graduated. The parent was not impressed with what was discovered.
The high school on The Brac has a referral policy and misbehavior is not tolerated, but rather dealt with. Students are encouraged to be punctual. As soon as a student arrives for class after the second bell, which is sounded 3 minutes after the first bell to signal the end of class, that student is considered late and a referral is given. Students are made aware that by the second bell they should be in line outside the classroom in preparation to enter for their next session.
Obscene language is not tolerated on campus. If any staff member hears a student using expletives a referral is given immediately. Cursing a teacher has more severe consequences. The high school has a No Bullying Policy and all staff and students must show respect to each other. If a teacher witnesses a student bullying another student while in class, that student is removed, given a referral and reported to the head of department.
Students are required to attend classes in neatly pressed uniforms, failing to do so will require a letter from the parent stating why the teenager is not in correct attire. Hair must be groomed and no student should have visible tattoos or body piercings, except for female students with studded earrings — not hanging elaborate earrings.
To keep the campus safe, should all students be searched regularly or on a daily basis? Some on the PTA disagreed. The media and police have received reports of marijuana being found on campus in the past and occasionally HM Customs have been called in with a trained search dog.
Still, the good of the school far outweighs the negatives. Cayman Brac High School, now called Layman E. Scott Sr. High School, is one of the leading secondary schools in the Cayman Islands.
Yes, school is in!