Clinton Pickering – Freelance Writer
On the way to fulfilling its vision of being becoming “the best in the Caribbean delivering technical education,” Herbert Morrison Technical High is, arguably, the leading and most sought-after high school in Western Jamaica.
In tribute to the school’s 40th anniversary, which it is currently celebrating, the Western Mirror highlights some of the achievements for the anniversary year as presented by Principal Paul Adams at last week Wednesday’s Graduation 2017 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.
But first, a glance at where Herbert Morrison Technical is coming from. It was built as part of a comprehensive plan to significantly increase educational institutions in Western Jamaica. Originally it was named the Catherine Hall High School, and subsequently renamed in honour of philanthropist and former Custos of St James, Dr. Herbert Morrison. Even then, the name was Herbert Morrison Comprehensive High School, from which the popular “Compre” was derived. It was after another decision was taken to give Montego Bay a dedicated technical school that it became Herbert Morrison Technical High School.
The outstanding contribution of Lloyd Whinstanley as pioneer principal set the school on a path of excellence that Mr. Adams has built upon and he currently wears the crown of top high school principal nationally.
In its continued development, Herbert Morrison Technical is to open a Call Centre in September. This was made possible with $4 million allocated under S.T.E.M by the Ministry of Education.
An additional $3 million from the Ministry will enable the labs to be fully equipped and refurbished for the next school year.
Also by September, the school’s gym will be upgraded through a contribution of $4.25 million by the Tourism Enhancement Fund.
Against the longstanding debate over the pros and cons of co-ed schools in Jamaica at this time, Herbert Morrison has defied the odds and continues to lift standards with remarkable achievements recorded among staff and the 1200 students, both academically and in extra-curricular activities.
Among the outstanding achievers are Head Boy, Daniel Davis, and Dominique Ramsingh, who mastered 10 and 11 CSEC subjects respectively in external examinations, while Ashari Service in Food and Nutrition and Devontee Steele in Mechanical Technology, outperformed everyone else in the Caribbean.
Herbert Morrison also topped the Caribbean in a number of CAPE subjects, Xavier Plunkett in Logistics and Supply Chain, Asha Lee Kelly, Shantal Artwell, Chevelle Fullerton, and Kerry-Ann James in Tourism and Dejaun Stewart in Electrical and Electronics, justifying Principal Adams declaration: “Herbert Morrison Technical High School remains an Ivy League school.”
From internal exams, 11 students made the Principal’s Honour Roll while 87 made the Credit List.
ACHIEVEMENT IN SPORTS
Achievements in sports were highlighted by Richard Thompson making the National U17 squad and Raheem Heaven, Conroy Allen and Mathew Graham invited to the National U15.
In basketball, Herbert Morrison’s Under-19 Team won the ISSA Western High School Championship and placed 3rd in the National Championship while Dave Black was named U-19 Coach of the Year and Tafari Vassell and Ralique Grant offered scholarships at University of the West Indies, Mico University and GC Foster College.
The school also emerged victorious in the Under-16 and Under-14 ISSA Western High School Championships. Two players, Ryheem Barrett and David Gordon, were selected for National U-17 Team while Dave Black was also named Coach of the Year.
In track and field, Coach Claude Grant was honoured at the ISSA Boys & Girls Championship as a top coach and Bonanza Cummings offered a scholarship to the Kennesaw State University, while Daniel Clarke got an offer to South Dakota University and Debra Wallace to Linden Wood University
Herbert Morrison excelled in 4-H in various categories at both regional and national levels, emerging parish champion for the fourth consecutive year.
Successes were achieved in several other areas of school and community involvement, among them the Social Development Commission Product Development Competition and Jamaica Cultural Development Commission Festival of the Performing Arts, for which the school had the highest medal haul in the parish’s history and went on to make its mark in the national finals as well as the St James Evening of Excellence, the National Awards of Excellence.
Musically, Herbert Morrison has assembled one of, if not the best school bands in the island and pianist Louis Li, and bass player Jevaughn Brown, both won gold medals from the JCDC.
In the St. James Municipal Corporation Disaster Awareness Quiz & Poster Competition, Tiasha Reid entered more than one piece and copped both 1st and 2nd prizes in her age group and as testimony to their technical skills, the Engineering Club installed a 3000 wart grid tie solar system on the Industrial Technology staffroom as its entry in the PCJ Science Competition.
Staff too have been making their mark with 29 teachers being selected as examiners or assistant examiners for CXC and 10 teachers as NCTVET Assessors.
Impressed by the technical school’s record of achievement, guest speaker at this year’s graduation, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett lauded Mr. Adams for “taking on an institution that has only grown and has only blossomed into being today, in my mind, and I say it without equivocation and I’m sure without much contradiction, that Herbert Morrison Technical High is one of the finest schools anywhere in the Caribbean today.”
He went on to congratulate the graduates for their performances in the various areas of school work and sports, as well as civic and community activities. “That is the alexia in my mind, to create a new and solid generation a future that will make us feel comfortable that tomorrow will bring a better day,” said Mr. Bartlett.
He had the graduates join him in quoting Nelson Mandela who declared that “Education is the most powerful weapon on earth.”
Noting that his greatest passion in public life was education, Mr. Bartlett said Herbert Morrison had the second largest number of students who benefit from his annual scholarship programme of the past 20 years.
He announced that four students, Asha Lee Kelly, Shantal Artwell, Chevelle Fullerton and Kerry-Ann James, who have an interest in tourism, would each receive a scholarship valued at $100,000 to commence tertiary training as of next October.
Additionally, Mr. Bartlett said he was so impressed with valedictorians Kadish Nelson and John Kerr-Bryan, they were being given special awards.