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Potential and hope taken away

Potential and hope taken away


When passenger van HL636 plunged into the raging seas off the coast of Rock Gutter last Monday, it took with it a significant portion of the potential and hope of the village of Fancy.

Three of the students who died, and one who is still missing, but presumed dead,{{more}} were students of the North Union Secondary School (NUSS).

Jamal Edwards (12) and Annique Alexander (12) were first formers, Jamalie Edwards (14) was a third former and 15-year-old Chanstacia Stay, who is still missing, was a fourth former.

Principal of the NUSS St Clair DosSantos told SEARCHLIGHT that as recently as the Friday before the accident, he complimented the students from Fancy for their deportment at school.

“I was commending them on how they dressed and their behaviour and their academic performance. Up to now, it is still difficult for me to eat. I can only drink. When I reflect on them it is really difficult. These were the students to exemplified a positive school spirit.”

DosSantos said he knew all of the students involved in the accident well.

“I interacted with all of them. Those who died and those were injured. Jamalie was a brilliant Science student and all of them had so much potential,” the principal said.

“… On a daily basis when I came to school on a morning, I would meet them there because they were the first group to arrive. They are normally here around 6:30 a.m., and if I had a lot of books or bags, they would help me carry them to the office.”

DosSantos said the students in the first and third forms were the ones most affected by the tragedy.

“Most of the students came from those forms. They were good academic students. They were among the top forms…. Their friends really are not coping well. We have the counselors here and some persons from the community giving us assistance,” he added.

Nine other students from the school — Shemroy Yorke, Ruth-Ann Bowens, Odesia Stay, Israel Roberts, Terril Thomas, Orlando Lewis, Cristie Bowens, Onique Michael and Maxroy Michael — were injured in the accident.

At press time, four of them were still hospitalized, while the others are recovering at home.

Ronald Clarke, principal of the Georgetown Secondary School (GSS) says when he thinks about the two students from his school who were lost in the accident, he becomes emotional.

Racquel Ashton, an 18-year-old fifth former died in the crash, while 13-year-old second former, Simonique Ballantyne is still missing.

“Both of them were good students. They were well-behaved and normal students who you never heard complaints about from teachers. They were just good students,” Clarke said.

Sixteen-year-old Glenroy Michael, who also perished in the crash, was a fifth form student at the nation’s premier boys’ secondary school, the St Vincent Grammar School.

Up to press time yesterday, we were unable to reach Headmaster of the St Vincent Grammar School Curtis King for a comment.