On Wednesday, the outstanding students of Holy Trinity Secondary School are celebrated at the Courtyard by Marriott in New Kingston in St Andrew. (Karl McClarty)
In 2020, when Father Carl Clarke was appointed headmaster of Kingston-based Holy Trinity Secondary School, he promised students that those who made it to the school’s “Gold Club” by achieving an 80% average or more each term, would be rewarded in luxury.
With this promise from the new principal, several students, many of whom live in the gritty communities close to the school in difficult socio-economic conditions, have put themselves through their paces and landed in the bronze, silver or gold academic clubs that the director created.
Although what materialized was slightly different from the original plan, the students who went to the Gold Club pressured Clarke to keep his promise.
On Wednesday, the promise was kept as an arrangement with a transport company saw 18 dedicated students board a luxury bus for a special celebratory lunch at the Courtyard by Marriott in New Kingston.
They were also treated to a tour of the hotel, which caters mainly to business travellers, before being treated to a sumptuous meal.
“As the new principal, I looked at student performance and said we were going to turn the school around through academic excellence. I introduced the three clubs and also told you that whoever goes to the Gold Club, a luxury bus will go to campus and we will take you for a day in Ocho Rios for free. That was the promise I made to you but soon after COVID-19 arrived.
Second-time Holy Trinity High School Gold Club members Shanae Parkins (left) and Raazique Grace share lens hour with school principal Father Carl Clarke. (Karl McClarty)
“Once we started taking the children back to school, I said to a young man, ‘How are you?’ He said he was fine and was waiting for the luxury bus. I made the promise, I meant it, but I didn’t know if the students were listening,” Clarke said in her address to the students.
“I am a man of my word and I want you to be able to trust me when I speak to you. I made you a promise that we would have this day and I started to feel guilty that it wasn’t happening. Not only am I a priest, but I’m your principal. We are an inner city school and we have no money but thank God for Proven Wealth who sponsored us to be here. We took the Montego Bay-based Tropical Tours bus, and when that bus arrived on campus, it was a statement,” Clarke added.
He argued that students who failed to get on the bus this time would be inspired to push their studies harder.
“Those who were on the bus would have been thrilled to be on the bus and also to be recommitted to academic excellence. We also believe that those who weren’t on the bus will yearn to get on the bus. I am overwhelmed with how happy they are to interact at the Marriott. It exposed them to a different menu and they enjoyed their three-course meal,” Clarke said.
Happy smiles from these ‘golden clubbers’ from Holy Trinity High School as they prepare for dinner at the Courtyard by Marriott in New Kingston on Wednesday. (Karl McClarty)
According to Clarke, since Wednesday was the first outing for Gold Club members, some of the 18 students, who were exposed to a different vibe than they were used to, were included for getting good grades in exams. externals, while Omarianho Gibson was included in the treat, as he was the school’s sole representative at the last two Issa/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Athletics Championships.
“This feature is primarily for gold clubbers. But what we have sought to do is broaden it to include academic excellence and excellence of all kinds. There are two fifth alumni, one is in the gold club but we wanted you to understand that all study and no extracurricular activities make you boring.
“We celebrate excellence and dedication. When you were all at home at the height of the pandemic, Omarianho and his athletic trainer, trained every day at UTech (University of Technology, Jamaica) or Holy Trinity High School. As of 2021, only one student represented Holy Trinity Secondary School. He never got a medal but made it to the final,” Clarke noted.
Tiara-Lee Drummond, Sales Coordinator at Courtyard by Marriot, welcomes students and teachers from Holy Trinity High School aboard the luxury bus that takes them to the hotel in New Kingston. (Karl McClarty)
For consistency in academics, fourth-year student Raazique Grace made it to the Gold Club for the second time in a row. He told the Observer that his parents, especially his mother, are his greatest motivation.
“I got an average of over 80% in all subjects, studying hard and dedicating myself to work. I received my mindset from my mother. She always works to make sure I earn money for lunch and my father is also a motivation.
“It’s great to be among the stars at Holy Trinity High School. I’m the president of the Key Club and I’m also a class supervisor,” the aspiring accountant said.
Eighth grader Shanae Parkins said she is proud of her accomplishments and plans to continue working at this level and beyond.
“I plan to stay at Gold Club because it helps motivate my friends and lets me know I’m worthy of something,” Shanae said.
Courtyard by Marriott Sales Coordinator Tiara-lee Drummond (right) welcomes Father Carl Clarke, Principal of Holy Trinity High School to a special luncheon for students. (Karl McClarty)