Immaculate Conception High School, Jamaica’s top-performing all girls Catholic school, is not waiting for the Government to make good on a previously promised school-bus system that would assist in providing safety and convenience of its girls and educators, as reported by The Gleaner.
With that in mind, the school’s administrators launched a ‘165 in 165’ campaign on Friday, October 27, aimed at raising US$165,000 for the purchase, insurance, and registration of the institution’s own school bus for its 165th anniversary, October 1.
The local news source reported that five years ago, then Minister of Education and Youth Ruel Reid, during the signing of an JA$8million Japan Grassroots Human Security Grant agreement with the ambassador of Japan to Jamaica, for the purchase of rural school buses, said the ministry wanted to develop a comprehensive national school-bus system for a number of reasons, not only for safety, but to get students to school on time and in a managed and regulated way.
“For that year, in 2018, he said more than JA$204 million was committed at the start of the academic year towards this particular rural-bus system, and the Ministry of Education and Youth was looking at an overarching plan to provide transportation for all students,” said the news report.
Fast-forward to 2023 – five years later – with that comprehensive national school bus system yet to be achieved, schools such as Immaculate “have brushed those promises aside” and are conducting their fundraisers to have their own school bus made available for use.
Within minutes of the launch, the administrators had already collected more than US$1,000 from students, parents, teachers, old girls, and donors.
Stacey Reynolds, principal of Immaculate, told The Gleaner she was confident that the US$165,000 would be raised in the 165 days.
“This is our big fundraiser for this year. This is one of the initiatives that we [have] to celebrate our anniversary, and I’m 100 per cent certain that we’ll get it,” Reynolds said. “We need at least US$120,000 to purchase the bus, but our aim is to get US$165,000 to cover insurance and everything else that we might need,” she said.
She said the students have led the way in starting the fundraising with Sarai Watson, Miss Immaculate Conception 2023, handing over the first US$1,200 at the launch with a coin drive with classes donating coins as part of a competition.
“We also have a sixth-form group who have a play called Alice in Wonderland to raise funds for the bus,” she said.
At the launch, Sharon Wolfe handed over US$1,000 from the New York Chapter of Old Girls as a first installment. Other donors included The Jamaica Public Service and Couples Resorts. Archbishop Kenneth Richards of Kingston gave US$300.