Roger Bacon students fit chairs headed to Jamaica into the truck.
Thanks to some creative friar thinking and the generosity of Roger Bacon High School, students in Jamaica will soon have their own work space to spread out as they learn. More than 500 desks, shipped from Cincinnati after the holidays, have just arrived for use in Catholic schools supported by SJB friars through the province’s mission work in the Caribbean island nation.
Colin King, who serves as vicar of education for the Diocese of Montego Bay, has been involved in the “one student/one desk” initiative, geared toward providing an individual desk for every student to facilitate learning.
“What we basically have in many schools now is yard benches, built for only two students, but often being used by three or four students, with no table top to work or write,” Colin explained. “We want to get away from that so the students have their own learning stations. This has become even more important because of COVID, and it really is a desperate need.”
Colin shared the need with Bill Farris, former president of Roger Bacon, who planned to send out an appeal to schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in hopes they would have desks to share, along with requesting that the high school be used as a central collection point for donations. Recognizing that Roger Bacon would soon be purchasing new desks for each of its 515 students, Principal Steve Schad proposed shipping the gently used desks they would be replacing to Jamaica.
Beginning the first day of Christmas break, Roger Bacon staff and 65 student volunteers spent the next seven days removing every desk from the school, moving them to Bron Bacevich Memorial Stadium, and then loading them onto two, 40-foot sea-land containers bound for Jamaica. The weight of both containers equaled 16,747 pounds.
Colin said their schools are excited to have this dramatic upgrade for the students. “The ‘yard’ benches have been used for upwards of 10 years. As you can imagine, these old benches caused problems with students essentially sitting on top of each other. Many of the principals exclaimed with great joy when I said the desks were on their way. There were a lot of ‘whoo-hoos’ and thumbs up emojis.”
“We’re so incredibly grateful to Roger Bacon for this,” he added. “This kind of creative partnership means so much to our students here and will help them stay as comfortable and safe as possible.”
Visit the website of Roger Bacon High School.