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Are ‘demons’ taking over students at Bequia school?

Are ‘demons’ taking over students at Bequia school?

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The Ministry of Education (MOE) was expected to dispatch a psychologist and a psychiatrist to the Bequia Community High School yesterday, after a teacher and 13 students — all females — began displaying “strange behaviour” Wednesday.{{more}}

Up to Wednesday night, some of the affected persons had not recovered from the episode, which saw them pointing at a cemetery and saying they have to go there, a source who asked for anonymity, told SEARCHLIGHT.

The situation persisted even after the affected individuals met with a pastor.

“They were telling the pastor to shut up. They were saying to him ‘You cannot touch us’,’’ the source said, adding that it was “strange” that the students “were speaking in perfect Standard English.

“They don’t normally speak in Standard English. I mean as perfect as being born in England.”

Classes at the Bequia Community High School were suspended and parents summoned to a meeting Wednesday evening, as a result of the development.

But Chief Education Officer Lou-Anne Gilchrist said by email Wednesday afternoon that the information reaching the MOE was “sketchy at this point.

“As we prefer to be in possession of first-hand, factual information, an official visit to the schools will be made shortly to ascertain which events may have occurred.

“Subsequent to this fact-finding visit, the Ministry of Education will determine precisely which interventions are to be made to address any issues which may exist,” Gilchrist further wrote in response to an email.

But the official in Bequia, who requested anonymity, said the affected persons displayed “loud screaming, talking in [tones of] voice that they are not accustomed [to] and pointed to a place that they should go, like the cemetery …

“For the safety of the children, we decided to send them home, after consultation with the Ministry of Education,” the official further said by telephone.

At a meeting of the school’s parent-teacher association, parents agreed that school and MOE officials had made the right choice in suspending classes.

The affected students were of different ages and came from Forms 1 through 5.

“… it’s the first time I have seen students behave like that,” the official said, when asked what had happened to the students.

“I saw it with two students before, but I notice that day before yesterday (Monday) and yesterday (Tuesday), in particular, they came down with that,” the official told SEARCHLIGHT.

SEARCHLIGHT understands that two students, who are related to each other and live in the same yard, exhibited similar behaviour two months ago.

But the official said relatives of a student were asked to take her home Tuesday when she began behaving strangely.

Soon after returning to school on Wednesday, the student, who was said to appear “tired”, began displaying the same behaviour, the official said.

“And then it just spread like wildfire … Yesterday (Tuesday), we saw one student and then today (Wednesday) we saw the 13,” the official said.

“You can imagine the panic that set in.”

Members of the Christian community on Bequia were called in and they prayed for the students and took them to a church, the official further said.

A caller to at least one radio talk show programme Wednesday said there were comments that the students were being affected by demons.

“I heard comments to that effect … but I don’t think I am in the position to make a judgement … A number of parents came to pick up their children … I think they are in sympathy with the students,” the official said.

Asked if there were any recent occurrences in the Northern Grenadine island that might have disturbed the affected persons, the official said:

“One thing strange though was that one of the girls was pointing towards two of the vans that transport students to school … And the music that they play, one of the most famous one was something uncle demon. I don’t know what it was. She was calm for a while and as soon as she see one of the vans, she pointed at the van and said, ‘That is the van I got this thing from.’”

SEARCHLIGHT understands that four students at the Bequia Seventh Day Adventist Secondary School, the other secondary school on the island, displayed the same “symptoms”.

SEARCHLIGHT, however, was unable to independently verify this, as repeated telephone calls to the school went unanswered Wednesday. (kentonchance@searchlight.vc)

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