St. Catherine’s Academy is the latest Belize City school to benefit from a relationship with the Belize City Council. On Wednesday the school unveiled its newly refurbished science lab, the first renovations done anywhere on the newest building on campus – which happens to be 50 years old. But according to school principal, Salome Tillett, a lot of history has come out of the space. Salome Tillett – Principal of St. Catherine’s Academy: Our Labs here produced this countries first female pilot, first female environmentalist, first female neurosurgeon (doesn’t practice in Belize), first female geologist, environmentalist, doctors, biologist, engineers, and more recent alumna, and our student body right here. So it is a pleasure for us to welcome you to SCA, which is a school of excellence. A school like SCA is a gift to our nation, because we help to build this nation by empowering the young women that come to us. Today, we are very grateful that you have chosen to give a gift to us. After opening the renovated laboratory, which cost about $13,000 in mostly material, the Mayor of Belize City Darrell Bradley spoke to PLUS News about how the project was completed. Darrell Bradley – Mayor of Belize City: This is the culmination of a lot of work that has been going on over the Summer. What the City Council did is that we identified several projects that we want to undertake with schools. We are accelerated on a works at Excelsior High School, and also here at St. Catherine’s. We gifted St. Catherine’s with two fully renovated science labs. When I mean renovated, I mean from ground to ceiling. We did the floors in terms of the tiling. We painted ceilings, painted the walls. We put in windows. We put in lights, fans. We resurfaced the counter-tops, and renovated the benches and everything like that. We painted over a lot of the equipment, the cabinets, everything. All of this work has been done by the City Council employees, about 30 of them, who are doing our social outreach projects. They go around and they paint homes for people. They have been doing a lot of street work, in terms of renovating parks, drainage, that kind of thing. But we really want to make sure that we have a presence in the area of education. The Council previously established a relationship with Southside School Excelsior and works have proceeded apace there. But the difference between the two could not be more obvious – that is, until you look more closely, as the Mayor says he did, when we asked why the Council chose these particular schools to partner with. Darrell Bradley – Mayor of Belize City: Schools like St. Catherine’s, people always look at them and they think ‘Oh, you have a lot of money.’ That is not the case. Church-managed schools are schools which are often under a lot financial pressure. I know this for a fact because I have worked with St. John’s. When you think that it’s a church-managed school, you think that the church has a lot of money. That’s not the case. When we spoke with the Administrators here at St. Catherine’s, while they do invest heavily in the education of their students, and they do a tremendous job, a lot of cutting of the budget has to come in terms of the infrastructure. They tend not to spend a lot of money in terms of the space and the area. When we discussed with them, one of the areas that we could assist, particularly in this community, was to assist with the gifting of the Labs. City Administrator Candice Burke, whom Principal Tillett recognized in her address, is a former graduate and teacher at SCA, which is the third oldest high school in Belize after Wesley College and St. John’s College. According to the Mayor, more work will be done at both campuses and others during the course of the remainder of this year.