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Principal appeals for funds

The principal of St John’s Academy, a private Catholic secondary school in Portsmouth, Dominica is appealing to individuals and sponsors for funding to rebuild the structure before the reopening of the school term in September.

The school suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Maria.

Sr Rose Leon SJC is also seeking committed persons to sponsor a student’s school fees for one year of TT$5,000; pay the salary of one teacher for one year; and offer financial/in-kind contributions of building materials.

In an interview with Catholic News April 13, the St Lucian-born Sr Rose said that the fundraiser which started January will run “as long as need be”.

She revealed that although members of the public have been showing an interest in the initiatives, “not much” has been received thus far.

According to Sr Rose, the school, which was opened in 2012 was “not very structurally sound” and Maria “added to the damage”. She mentioned that the school’s roof came off, furniture damaged, windows broken and walls, electricals and plumbing affected.

Luckily, she revealed, the school’s files remain unaffected.

With a school population of 87 students, St John’s Academy—a co-ed school— offers a sound academic, technical and moral education to young people that will provide them with the knowledge and skills required to be successful in their personal lives. St John’s Academy also aims to build good Christian families and assume sound leadership in their communities and beyond.

The January intake was 75 students. Some, she said, have expressed interest in returning while others have migrated.

She told Catholic News that the school was one of the first schools post-Maria to contact students and teachers to return.

“…And the reason being is that I just felt that the students needed to focus on something else rather than just look at their damaged homes and the destruction. I felt that just bringing them together, the support of each other would have helped. And so from there we started thinking the way forward. So rather than focus on the damage I started thinking of the possibilities.”

Sr Rose shared that classes resumed with debriefing sessions and some psychological support from counsellor Sr Hazel Alphonse SJC.

To date, students are now housed at the “cramped” administrative building and two classes under a tent received from UNICEF.

“It was also another opportunity to educate them spiritually, [and] to really understand how important it is to appreciate things, to appreciate what they have, to be able to appreciate each other…and I really did not want to miss that opportunity,” she said.

Financial contributions in any currency (cash or cheques) can be delivered to SJC Superior, Sr Mary Patrice Simmons at Emmaus Retreat Centre, Torrecilla, Arima.

For more information, please call 667 3576/ 5365 or email