It’s a Love Affair with Woodford!

Written by: Dyhann Buddoo-Fletcher | Thursday, July 18, 2019

You know when the love affair continues when the person is willing to go the extra mile with you and hill nor valley will not stop them from caring. That’s just how a group of ten, from the United States of America felt as they made their journey on July 17, 2019 up through the winding thoroughfare into the cool St. Andrew hills where lies the Woodford Seventh-day Adventist Preparatory School.

The group came into the island bearing gifts and back-to-school items for the school and its children that they have fallen in love with three years ago and they just keep on giving.

“It began when Education Director, at the East Jamaica Conference, Dr. Donna Brown  who approached me while on a trip to New York,” explained the group leader, Keith “Chappy” Taylor, a Jamaican living in the United States.  “She told me that there are two Seventh-day Adventist Schools that needed help back home.  So, when I came to Jamaica I visited Woodford SDA Preparatory School first, and I fell in love with the School and with the children. They fed and sang for me. I simply fell in love with them.”

The fire kindled in Keith’s heart propelled him into action. So he talked with the principal at the school where he was a teacher back in the

States. Together they formulated a plan, bought gifts and sent them back to Jamaica for the School.

“We decided to continue with this.  I told my brother and with the help of some friends: Julie, Annette, Eric, Racquel, Harronald, Tanya, Carmen, Christopher and Denise; they all chipped in and they are of big help. Some have decided to assist parents with their children’s tuition,” informed Keith.

Carmen a member of the group couldn’t contain her joy to help: “I had a little boy who I would support with school fees, but Julie gave him to someone else. So when I came and I saw Shacquine, I immediately fell in love with her because she resembles my grand-daughter. So I will be paying her school fees.”

The programme grew and was extended to Mirimar Seventh-day Adventist Preparatory school with a breakfast programme and also with tangible items for the school and its children. “We packed barrels and shipped them,” Keith informed.

Taylor also told that last year, the group was able to give seven scholarships. Kingsway High School benefitted as well.  “This year we gave the graduates at Woodford SDA Prep., twelve scholarships and each child received a little gift card with a small token.”

Taking the time during their vacation, the Woodford friends returned once again. Their coming to the school was quickly publicized.  At the afternoon gathering, in the little school that hosts 83 students and seven teachers, the excitement from the children was deafening. The kids couldn’t wait for what was to come.

“Be quiet” said Principal Dave McNeish, “We have some friends here who has come a far way to share with you today. They have gifts for everybody. No one will leave without a gift.”

Keith Taylor was introduced and he quieted the kids too asking them to clap if they could hear him. The rhythmic claps silenced them.  Keith talked with them, introduced the team, and sent them off to collect their   ice-cream, popcorn, small gift packages and back-to-school items consisting of bags, books, pens, pencils and a whole lot more.

“The gifts today is needed,” said Nordia Green a parent of two children attending the school. “It is really rough and it is an ease for the parents because back-to-school financing isn’t easy.”

Lyscheniel Charlton who was successful in her Primary Exit Profile (PEP) exams and passed for Merl Grove High School praised the team, “Our Woodford friends are helping students to get a good education. What they are doing today is very important and I would like to thank every one of them for helping us.”

Pastor Sheldon Schooler who has been in the community for over one year was indeed grateful for the help, “I am indeed grateful for the assistance we have gotten. We have seen where the contributions, the gifts, the giving back to Christian education have really gone a long way in helping the students.  I must say that the students are looking forward to this. Not just the current student body, but also the past students who have heard about today’s outreach and are here. A few community member have asked if their children could come by and I said yes.”

The 75 year-old Seventh-day Adventist operated school, nestled in the cool hills with giant mango trees in close proximity, has had its share of challenges, confessed McNeish, the Principal. “We are currently improving on our infrastructure as we need more space. The student population has a potential for growth and we want to facilitate that.”

Despite it all, the eight year leader said the school is doing quite well academically, “We are having all our students passing their PEP exams for traditional schools such as Merl Grove, Queens, Excelsior and Dunoon High just to name a few. But what we are doing is to give our children the best education, which is a Christian one. ”

Wendy-Kay Clarke-Richardson a mother of one graduate from Woodford and has a second child who is in grade one, she said she has no problems with the school.  “Any problem we have, we can talk with the teachers and the principal and they quickly sort it out. I really appreciate this school very much.”

Woodford SDA Preparatory School is one of five Preparatory Schools and one High School that is owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in East Jamaica Conference.

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