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Talent galore at Alexandra

Ricky Jordan

Talent galore at Alexandra

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FROM SEEING the amount of talent that exists among the staff at The Alexandra School during the just ended Commission of Inquiry, I could only conclude that this school will one day be so great that all that has befallen it will be a distant and contrasting memory.
If one was able to briefly put aside the experiences of those who testified, the immense talent at the St Peter institution shone through in the last two months; from principal Jeff Broomes, a longstanding athlete, successful cricket administrator and outstanding teacher of English, to educators who have spent a half-century within Alexandra’s walls and multi skilled young teachers who have a great contribution to make to local education.
As teacher after teacher took the witness stand, versatility and talent flowed into the room at the Gymnasium; so much so that I marvelled  at this gem in the north whose problems are no more grievous than those of other schools but whose destiny it is to be the sacrificial lamb for the good of education in Barbados.
It’s a bittersweet reality, but I have heard it spoken across the length and breadth of this country that as a result of the inquiry which started at the beginning of July and ended last Wednesday, educators and other interested people are keenly looking forward to radical changes in the Education Act.
Short of romanticizing  the issue, I must note that, on reflection, the commission was a wise move on the part of the Prime Minister who set it up in April, despite the belief by many right-thinking Barbadians that the best way of handling the matter was to rush in, fire somebody or curse people in order to “get things done”.
Instead, the contentious and delicate matter was handled in a dignified and orderly way, even though circumstances surrounding The Alexandra’s industrial dispute in January were explosive and, for the students, potentially catastrophic.
Beyond that, the recent hearings gave an insight into the school’s potential, and I will always remember the description of the ambience at Alexandra by Chief Education Officer Laurie King.
As he recalled some of his visits and mentioned the school’s dynamism and the sense that it was highly conducive to learning, I thought at one point he had become confused with a visit to Combermere.
Seriously, I see the pain for Alexandra as being only temporary and, like any sacrifice, it should be a catalyst for the greater good.
I therefore look forward to the findings of the commission.
GEORGE JONES is a sad man today but he’s also a fortunate man, having highlighted, like few before him, a potential medical crisis among dialysis patients in Barbados.
His desire to get the best treatment here for others who are similarly ill has been met with ire from those who don’t agree with his publishing on Facebook his harrowing experience of an electrical power outage followed by a nurse’s panic during a dialysis treatment.
The fact that it is widely but wrongly believed that his experience took place at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital is another matter.
What is important is that, since being diagnosed with colon cancer three years ago, Jones, a former keyboardist with Square One, has been trying to come home each Crop Over to make a contribution and renew old ties with relatives, friends, schoolmates.
He was given certain promises at the highest level of the health sector which were not kept and, as a result, his response and revelations on Facebook have simply gone viral, with most sympathizing while a few saw his action as selfish.
Particularly alarming in all this has been the implication that his illness could have been self-induced as a result of bad lifestyle choices.
It’s a view that was, however, exploded by Jones himself, as he spoke to me, amid tears, of his healthy routine of regular walking, exercise and correct food choices. But being genetically predisposed to hypertension and kidney problems, it was probably only a matter of time before he reached his current point.
In fact, it was his battle with colon cancer that would have taken such a toll on his body that subsequent efforts to maintain proper functioning kidneys would not have been enough.
George writes well and is an inspiration, and unlike some who wilt at the average one-day trial that tests our faith, he says: “In the aftermath of my cancer diagnosis and throughout my subsequent recovery, I had faith to move a mountain, but recently, given new developments, my faith has started to wane and I have ventured tremendously close to giving up.”
But following a message relayed by his pastor, Jones affirmed: “One day soon, I will be well again. My pride, dignity and independence will be restored. I will not be blatantly discriminated against based on the status of my health.
“I will not have to negotiate, be interviewed or be interrogated to prove why I should receive mandatory treatment. Health care will once again be a service and not a business. I will not be put in a position which denies me access or be confronted by situations where the charges are so ridiculously exorbitant, that it’s cheaper to die . . . . One day soon, I will be well again.”
• Ricky Jordan is an Associate Editor of THE NATION.