As Carmelo Dorsett prepares to move on to the next stage of his academic life, the St. Cecilia’s Primary School sixth grade student said he will carry with him fond memories of the seven years he spent at the institution – but the one thing that he said stands out the most, is the dedication of the teachers.
“They pushed me to my limits, and I thought at first that it was because they did not like me, but then I realized it was because they saw potential in me and wanted me to become a highly educated student,” said Carmelo as he participated in the school’s Grade Six Retreat and Reflection Day.
“I will forever be grateful and thankful for what they did. So, I say to the teachers, thank you very much.”
Claudette Rolle, Catholic Board of Education (CBE) director, felt it was imperative that CBE primary schools sixth grade students engage in a retreat day this year, after having dealt with the gamut of emotions due to the pandemic and virtual learning.
The past 14 months have been a challenge for our grade six students, and ending their primary school experience with an event that is meaningful is important. The day of reflection gives them an opportunity to retreat from the pressures of schooling and think about how they have developed spiritually, mentally, and physically during their seven-year journey,” said Rolle.
The CBE director wanted the retreat day to encompass a spiritual aspect as well as a high school preparation aspect to help the primary school students as they make their transition to secondary school.
“During the course of the day, the activities bring them to the realization that they are closing one chapter of their lives and preparing to begin another. In a year that was atypical, it is important to bring closure to their experiences and give them hope that there is much to look forward to.”
Fellow graduating peer, Ahmaad Higgs, who, too, had been a student at the school for seven years, said the teachers made him feel like he could do anything.
“Our teachers always make sure that we had our work done,” said Ahmaad.
While Joseph Roberts said he most enjoyed the “loving teachers” whom he said made him feel safe and welcome, he also said he liked the fact that they would come together to help others in need.
McKayla Hall also expressed love for her teachers whom she said were all amazing.
“The past six years at St. Cecilia’s School have been extraordinary,” said De’Shawn Stubbs.
“I really enjoyed how every day we would learn new facts in school that would help us in life. Also, I enjoy going on field trips. During these precious times, I’ve gone through a lot, but I didn’t let that stop me from doing what I was supposed to do. And being at St. Cecilia’s School was like being at my home away from home.”
In advice given to assist them with transitioning to secondary school, Inspector Leonardo Burrows spoke to the students about conflict resolution, cyber bullying and the responsible use of media.
Coljean Butler, St. Cecilia’s School religion coordinator, said it was important for them to hold the in-person retreat this year as she said too many of the children feel isolated.
“For the past year, these students, when school closed in March 2020, have dealt with a lot of changes and this has affected their self-esteem, and some do not feel capable. Under the theme ‘Fearfully and Wonderfully Made’, we affirmed the students, assuring them that they are all wonderfully made and that they all have something to share. And that this gift is not just for them, but for them to share with the community.”
Monsignor Simeon Roberts, who also spoke to the sixth-grade students, reminded them that their lives should always reflect that they are connected to Jesus, which is manifested through their thoughts, words and deeds.
“As the theme fearfully and wonderfully made states, we are to stand up for righteousness, even in times when we have to stand alone,” said Roberts.
The priest at St. Cecilia Catholic Church told the children that even if others demean their character or try to pull them down with condescending statements, such as – “you will never amount to anything” or “you are just like your pa”, that they are to remember their purpose in life, which he said entails using the gifts and talents given to them by God, to encourage and uplift others.
“Remaining connected to God ensures that we can and will pursue our dreams, fulfill our purpose, be successful in our endeavors, and build up the family of God,” said Roberts.
St. Cecilia’s graduating sixth-grade students will participate in their Exodus Mass on Thursday, June 10 at 10 a.m. Only students and some teachers from the school will be allowed to participate, in keeping with COVID-19 restrictions. The service will be live-streamed.
A prize-giving ceremony for the students will be held as a drive-through event on Thursday, June 17, at the school.