Aug. 1, 2006 – Although there was still some debris on the lawn Tuesday at Addelita Cancryn Junior High School, the buildings had a new coat of paint, roofs were being repaired, walkways were being hosed off and the buildings were being cleaned.
Cancryn was last on the list of three schools inspected Tuesday by Education Commissioner Noreen Michael, Deputy Superintendent Yahaya Bellu and other department officials.
Earlier, the group had inspected Gladys Abraham (formerly Kirwan Terrace) and Ulla Muller elementary schools.
Michael said she was pleased by what she had seen so far at both schools, and that the work was progressing on schedule. She had words of praise for the "Clean and Preen" youngsters working under the Waste Management Authority, who have done work this summer at all three schools.
"You always know when the kids have been there," Michael said, "The jobs are so well done."
As to the summer maintenance program progress, "We respond to that question by saying 'Yes,' the major work is being done," she said. "As to all of what the individual principals wanted done, the answer is no. But the schools are in better condition than when they closed in June."
The commissioner said that work that cannot be done during the school year is being done now.
"We have a continuing maintenance program throughout the year, but much of the maintenance cannot be done while the students are in school," she said. "The cafeteria roof has been replaced, the art room at Cancryn has a new roof, new tiling on the floors. We have a 10-ton air conditioner for the computer lab."
Bellu said lots of improvements had been made, or were underway at Cancryn. "We're doing work that can't be done during the school year. New painting, the leaking roofs repaired, electrical work, fire extinguishers replaced, water fountains installed and termites exterminated."
The doors leading into the main building, once poorly painted plywood, are being replaced with storm-proof glass doors, Louis Hughes, Education Department director of maintenance, pointed out. He conducted a brief tour of the art room, pointing out the new cabinets, paint and ceiling. Hughes said the schools each submit a list of what they need done, and he works out a timeline for the work.
"Some of the work is done by our own maintenance department," he said, "the minor repairs. We contract out the major repairs, replacing or repairing the roofs, electrical work, air conditioning."
Contractor Garfield Lewis accompanied the group on its inspection. He said his repairs would be ready in time for the school year.
Students coming back to school at Cancryn will be greeted with a jolt of color in the bright new artwork adorning outside wall panels. The fanciful murals lend added spirit to the school's new maroon-like paint job. "They're the work of the students, said Bellu. "And it looks like Leba Ola-Niyi, the art department chair, must have had a hand in them."
Michael smiled when the inevitable question came up: What's the future of Cancryn? Asked about the school's lack of a gymnasium, Michael looked patient as she explained that talks were ongoing about relocating the school. She has a team in place to talk with Keith Richards, the governor's assistant for special projects (See "Bournefield Evictions Unlikely to Happen Any Time Soon").
For years the government has said it would relocate Cancryn to an area more appropriate for the school. Earlier this year, an area in Bournefield was designated as the school's new site, however, plans bogged down when residents of that area objected to an eviction notice which they said did not give them enough time to relocate. Both sites are owned by the V. I. Port Authority.
Michael said she inspected Jane E. Tuitt, Dober and Evelyn Marcelli elementary schools, and Charlotte Amalie High School last month. "There are still more schools to do, and I want to get to St. John," she said. "The grand finale, the main event, the final inspection of all the schools should take place between Aug. 21 and the 26," she said.
Relaxing for a brief lunch Tuesday at Muller, Sonia Malone, the supervisor of the Clean and Preen youngsters, said she is pleased with the job the students are doing this summer. "They really work hard," she said. "When they are not on the road, they are in the schools."
She said there are four, 10-person teams of students working on the schools this summer. Malone pointed out the planting the youngsters had finished. "They did a nice job. The plants are so pretty, and the yard is now so clean."
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