By Theresa Goodwin
St Mary’s Secondary School now has the capacity to accommodate an additional 130 students with the completion of a new block that will serve as the administration and science departments.
The school has a current enrollment of 220 students and 51 faculty members.
The new block, that was dedicated on Tuesday, was constructed under the second basic education programme, following the signing of an agreement between the government of Antigua and Barbuda and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
Education Minister Daryll Matthew said the expansion at St Mary’s along with other schools across Antigua is part of ongoing efforts to drive improvements within the education sector.
“A few weeks ago, we opened a new wing at the Sir Novelle Richards Academy, and now we are dedicating this new facility,” he said.
“In a few weeks, we will be opening an Early Childhood Centre in Buckley’s and there is no reason why we cannot have one on the southern side of the island.”
School Principal Casey Phillip said the commissioning of the new block addresses the issue of space, which had long been of major concern to staff.
He recalled that there were days in the past when teachers were forced to hold classes outdoors on benches in the scorching sun.
Another struggle that he pointed to was severe flooding which caused disruptions to classes on numerous occasions.
“Thanks to the government of Antigua and Barbuda for seeing the need to expand and upgrade the facilities here at St Mary’s.
“The school is indeed most appreciative of this much-needed gesture. Thanks also to the Ministry of Education and the CDB, our students and teachers now work in more conducive facilities,” Phillip said.
The principal was supported by Member of Parliament for St Mary’s South, Samantha Marshall, who said the new wing was a remarkable achievement.
“This is a positive transformation. There are people in the community who are grateful and who are thankful, but this is just the beginning,” she said.
The MP added that the educational facility has come a long way, alluding to the stigma that was once attached to schools in the countryside and the perception by many that they do not stack up well against schools in the city.
The educational institution was originally built by MP Marshall’s father, former long-serving MP Hugh Marshall Snr, several years ago.