Two years after it started online classes, the Monsignor Gladstone Wilson College, Montego Bay’s second boys’ high school, opened its doors for face-to-face classes September 4.
The Roman Catholic Church-operated school is neighbour to Cornwall College, the city’s 127-year-old government-owned boys’ school, and Mount Alvernia High, another Catholic school.
It has been twinned with Campion College in St Andrew, which will also offer virtual lessons, and Mount Alvernia High, which will allow classroom accessibility where necessary.
Roughly 30 boys are enrolled in the school’s seventh, eighth and 11th grades.
“The curriculum mirrors that of the best Catholic high schools, while emphasising discipline and Christian living,” Catholic deacon and former Education Minister Rev Ronald Thwaites told The Gleaner.
“What we do say is that the spirit of generosity, the living for others, the care of the vulnerable, the respect for God’s creation, this is the essence of the Christian message in the Beatitudes, and that’s what we’re going to inculcate for them, and they must agree to that and they must participate with this,” said Rev Thwaites, who has responsibility for Catholic education in Jamaica.
Rev Thwaites credited National Security Minister and St James North Western Member of Parliament Dr Horace Chang, who is a former Cornwall College head boy, and his wife, Paulette, an educator, who both felt there was a need for such an institution.
Boys, he noted, learn at a different pace than girls and, for that and other reasons, they sometimes see no merit in education and get deflected. “And we know what kind of social problem … that causes,” he said.
Thwaites admitted that they had hoped that the Government would join with the Church at the outset and sent students there for sixth form as well as some grant-in-aid students for the seventh grade, but that did not materialise.
He is, however, not disillusioned, reasoning that the churches in Jamaica own or sponsor almost half of all the public education institutions. The Catholic Church has about 120 schools at all levels from early childhood to tertiary, and the Anglicans and the United Church have even more.
At the helm of the Monsignor Gladstone Wilson College is former Cornwall College and St George’s College vice-principal, Dave Soares, as headmaster, and Deacon Dr Selbourne Hemmings, as chairman.
Soares told The Gleaner on Monday (September 4) that what they are trying to replicate is a learning environment not only about academics, but also about social education, to mould the students into better citizens.
The students pay a minimum fee of Ja$81,000 per year, with the rest subsidised by the Catholic diocese in Toronto, Soares told The Gleaner.