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Holy Name Convent attains dream wing after 20 years

By Klysha Best

It was a dream and a journey that started 20 years ago, and on Tuesday, July 2, it all came to fruition with the commissioning of a new sixth-form wing at Holy Name Convent secondary school in Port of Spain.

The new wing is named after former principal Sr Bernadette de la Bastide OP and houses an auditorium named after former prioress Sr Helen Gomes OP.

The three-storey facility, built under a government loan arrangement, includes eight multifunctional, state-of-the-art learning spaces, and a  ground floor multi-purpose/performance centre.

Among those present for the commissioning were the Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, Finance Minister Colm Imbert and MP for Port of Spain North/St Ann’s West, Stuart Young SC.

Principal of Holy Name Convent, Lisette Khan, expressed gratitude to everyone involved in making the wing a reality, especially those who supported their dream from the beginning. She said, “They have made our work here a lot more comfortable…”

Khan noted that when they identified the need for eight classrooms and a multi-purpose space some 20 years ago, the Holy Name Convent team pooled their resources, initially expecting to fund the project entirely on their own.

“Past students of Holy Name Convent – architects, structural engineers, quality surveyors, project managers – came together with a group of inexperienced leaders – Sr Renée Hall and myself and the then principal, to dream that we could raise funds to build this. What a dream, but now it is a reality.”

Addressing the government ministers, Khan said “You all saw our need and you had confidence in the work that we do. Because I know that when you have limited resources, you are required to think about how you are going to allocate those resources for the best output.”

She continued, “I daresay that you have trusted in our legacy of excellence here at Holy Name Convent. I daresay that you have believed us when we said to you that investing in us, is an investment in the nation. That we are committed to the work of shaping and forming young women who will take up their roles as leaders in this society and who will lead well. That they will be women of worth and of integrity. That they will be people that we can be proud of, who will be exemplars to all of us, of justice, of honesty, of fairness. Women who value hard work.”

Khan acknowledged the Ministers of Finance, Education and Planning, the National Maintenance Training and Security Company Limited (MTS) and construction and property development company Flags TC International, for their support throughout the project.

She said, “They listened to us at every stage and prioritised our needs.”

Construction began late March 2023 and was completed April 2024. Khan praised the dedication of the workers “who laboured in the hot sun and in the rain. And I believe they understood that it was not just a building that was being put up, but they had their hands, their feet, their strength, and energy involved in something greater,” she said.

The Education Minister  expressed her satisfaction with seeing this project come to fruition after two decades of discussions. She commented that it is a constant work to keep upgrading schools, some over 100 years old, to modern standards to provide students with the best opportunities. She said, “Today is a win. We celebrate that.”

Earlier that morning, Fr Gregory Augustine CSSp presided over the blessing of the Sister Bernadette de la Bastide Wing before the commissioning ceremony.

He emphasised the role of faith and perseverance in bringing this project to fruition, particularly noting the significance of celebrating amidst the recent passage of Hurricane Beryl. “It is faith that brought you through,” he said.