John Gray holds open house

The John Gray High School swing band performs Tuesday at the school’s open house. - Photos: Mark Muckenfuss

Leah Robinson, head girl at John Gray High School, had an idea for sharing her school experience with everyone on Cayman. When the opportunity arose, she grabbed it.

That idea came to life on Tuesday, as parents and family members of students dropped in to visit classrooms, see educational project demonstrations and watch volleyball and basketball teams compete in tournaments. It was the first event of its kind in recent memory for the school. By 1 p.m., a little over 40 parents had visited the school. The event ran until 4 p.m.

Mark Plowright, 16, the school’s head boy, said Leah made her suggestion last fall during a discussion about John Gray’s public reputation with members of the legislative assembly. The consensus was that the school had an image problem.

“Leah said, ‘We should have an open house,’” Mark said.

Leah, 15, said she thinks her school often gets a bad rap.

People think, she said, “that we don’t do anything, or that we have fights every day, or it’s chaos.”

That is contrary to her own experience, she said. And she thinks the same is true of most John Gray students. Showcasing what she and other organizers called a “normal” day at the high school was an effort to combat that perception.

Principal Jon Clark said Leah, Mark and other student leaders took charge of the event from its inception to its execution. While student projects were featured in various areas, along with sports and music performances, Mr. Clark said students were attending their regular classes.

Nathaniel Antunez, second from left, controls an underwater robot as a demonstration during John Gray High School’s open house Tuesday.

“The parents see us in a regular working day,” Mr. Clark said. “We want to be honest and genuine and show them some of the highlights and some of the things we’re proud about.”

Nena Brown, 47, has a daughter in Year 10 and a son who graduated from John Gray last year. She said she did not need to be convinced that the school had good things to offer.

“I’ve always had a good impression of the school,” Ms. Brown said. “Even though there’s some negative things, I try to be positive.”

She came to the event, she said, out of curiosity and “just to browse around.”

“The first piece of work I looked at was my son’s,” she said, surprised by the coincidence. “It must have been from last year.”

That impressed her the most, she said. Second was the underwater robot students built for the Sea Perch project. The robot was temporarily housed in a tank of water, where students were able to remotely maneuver it around to pick things up off the bottom.

Retired George Town Primary principal Marie Martin was pleased with what she saw while touring the school.

“This is great stuff,” Ms. Martin said. “For some [parents], I’m sure it was their first time here and that’s a really good thing. It can only grow from here.”