Persons who have visited Barbuda and have had the chance to visit Sir McChesney George Secondary School, have been so captivated, charmed, fascinated or impressed by it, that they – Minister of Education Dr Jacqui Quinn-Leandro and all, come back with glowing reports, some of which we couldn’t do otherwise but feature in Tales Out Of School.
The gardens are claimed to be the best-kept in the nation. They grow peppers, tomatoes, peas, melons, cassava, okras and sweet potatoes. They have a nursery or greenhouse for seedlings and they also have plans for an orchard, where they hope to grow guavas, citrus fruits, mangoes, avocados, cashews and golden apples.
In the vegetable section, pupils have their own plots that they work, under supervision of the principal, John Mussington, and the two teachers who are in charge of the programme – Meride Keizer and Sasha Henry. The landscaping is done by a ground staff, and includes, palms, yellow ibis, crotons, hibiscus, and roses of varying colours.
The drought never bothers them. They have cisterns that supply water for garden, toilet, home economics and laboratory. They do heavy mulching. In other words, they use the grass that is cut or dug up, to cover the garden beds; and this helps to reduce water loss from the beds, thus preventing the need for watering.
They are in the poultry business also – broilers and layers. The pupils do everything – slaughtering, cleaning and packaging eggs. They can hardly produce them fast enough to meet the needs of the community.
More than 75 per cent of the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate pupils take the subject. As a rule, most of them pass with not more than one failure.
The minister of education, visited Barbuda with a team of ministry officials, and they were taken on a tour by MP Trevor Walker. They were very impressed with the gardens as compared with many schools in Antigua, and consider it one of the best, or most likely, the best.
According to the minister, “The principal Mr John Mussington, the two teachers who are in charge of the programme and other workers are to be highly commended for the pride they have brought to the sister island’s secondary institutions. When one visits the school, one is immediately taken by the well-kept, immaculately manicured gardens. The lawns and open fields are well cut, and the yards are clean and in pristine condition. The children of Barbuda have demonstrated much pride in their environs and we ought to be proud of them and encourage them to continue taking special care of the land. There is also at the entrance of the school, a display of plants with medicinal value. Indeed, Sir McChesney George would have been proud to know that the school which honours his name is a reason of hope for his fellow Barbudans.”