At its height in the 1990’s it was regarded as an athletic, if not academic, powerhouse on Belize City’s Southside. But thereafter it declined to the point where it was a junior high school and then a candidate to be taken over by the Ministry of Education for a Skills Training Program. Since then, Excelsior High School located on Fabers’ Road has rebounded, and today it received some much needed assistance from the City of Belize. Chair of Excelsior’s Board of Directors Marshall Nunez and Principal Gayle Thompson today signed a memorandum of understanding with Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley and Administrator Candice Burke to formalize the relationship between the City and the school which is already producing dividends. School principal Gayle Thompson outlines why this relationship is a good thing.
Gayle Thompson – School principal:
We are very proud to be in this partnership and we are firmly committed to maintaining this relationship well into the future. This partnership falls well within the scope of the school’s improvement plan which The Quality, Child friendly school Initiative endorses. The improvement in the infrastructure, the acquisition of resources, the involvement of the community are some key areas of focus and this initial undertaking by the Belize City Council fits snuggly into the improvement plan.
Already, there have been major infrastructural upgrades to the school’s compound and five computers donated for the redone computer lab, with a further 10 expected in the summer. Marshall Nunez describes how the school has benefited since the Mayor’s first visit several months ago.
Marshall Nunez – Chair of Excelsior’s Board of Directors:
He had committed when he came the day and after he visited the classroom, I met with him, me and the Principal and we have our wish list, then the invitation was unfolded – wanting to come and familiarize him with our school, but we also had some things that we wanted. At the time, we were in the process of crediting some computers for the computer lab and they committed to assist with the computer lab and today, we will unveil that computer lab that he has so graciously furnished for us and has promised to double the number of computers that have been donated.
According to Mayor Bradley, City Hall recognizes the importance of the school to the surrounding community. Several employees of Excelsior now work for the City, and through the establishment of three summer internships and a regular job training program the Council expects to interact with more. And according to the Mayor, this is only the start of good things for the school and the area in general.
Darrell Bradley – Mayor of Belize City:
Going forward into this MOU, we have actually discussed specific ways that we will partner. One of the ways that we have already committed and I am pleased to announced that the City Council is creating the Marshall Nunez scholarship and we will be donating one complete full scholarship to the valedictorian of Excelsior to attend the University of Belize. Mr. Nunez had expressed to us that students who graduated from this institution this year, had difficulty in accessing tertiary education because of the funding and we immediately said that we should assist by at least ensuing that the valedictorian from this institution gets access t tertiary education and we will commit to paying for that fully. Our staff is already working with that person so that we can facilitate the registration, the books, the tuition and things like that and that is a scholarship that we feel we will be able to continue every single year.
Earlier this year the Council announced the start of the “Storm In” program for Port Loyola and other areas of the City in which “major interventions”, both infrastructural and cultural will be implemented with the assistance of community assets. In the case of the area surrounding Excelsior this means jobs for youth who would otherwise be involved in gang activity and upgrades to Fabers’ Road, the Wilton Cumberbatch Field, Gill Street and Nurse Findley Crescent. Following the signing of the MOU the school’s upgraded computer lab was formally inaugurated.