Banana Ground needs playing field, school bus, water
Throughout the years, Garlogie Primary and Junior High School in Banana Ground, Manchester, has produced many outstanding citizens.
They include Deena Richards, Nesta Carter, Christopher Hyman, Omar Carter, Sherman McLean, Troy McLean, Rudyard Whyte, Junior Farquharson and of course - double Olympic gold medallist - Elaine Thompson.
But Orville Salmon, bursar, told THE STAR that the school still has no playing field, and the children have to use the paved yard, or the roadway for their physical education classes.
"When we have sports day they have to either rent the facilities at Kirkvine Sports Club, Cumberland Primary School, Comfort Community Centre, or Mt St Joseph High School as far away as Mandeville," Salmon said.
Not the ideal situation for a school that was built in the 1800s, and which has records dating back to 1920. In fact, just recently, a 94-year-old past student, whose grandfather also attended the school, returned to get his school records.
Still, the school is proud of Thompson's achievements and has already commissioned an artist to paint her portrait on the wall of the school to inspire and motivate students for greater success. They are also planning a motorcade through the community, and a big celebratory event to welcome her home when she returns.
"We are eager for her return, she is friendly, full of laughter, jovial, but also very feisty. She does not take any nonsense from anyone. We are hoping that she continues to remember her roots," he said.
He added that Elaine began to show her athletic prowess from grade one, and always participated in every track meet held at the school; but he said in those early days she showed a preference for distance running and ran the 400, 200 and 100 metres. One of her cousins also showed some promise, but did not pursue it.
Salmon said the school urgently needs a bus because children come from the surrounding communities of Peace River, Mt Pleasant, Day Day, Coffee Grove, Top Bellefield, and Texas and the transportation is not very reliable.
The school sits high in the hills adjoining Mocho Mountain range and the weather is usually cold, windy, and the fog is thick - especially at nights, almost mirroring the Scottish place whose name Garlogie shares. Salmon says on a clear day, they can see the Vere Plains, Kingston Harbour, the Blue Mountains and even watch the New Year's Eve fireworks in Downtown Kingston.
As Salmon and a few teachers prepare for the start of the Christmas term, he, like other residents of Banana Ground, echoed the need for better roads, reliable Internet service, piped water, and a community centre. He said that being located in two constituencies, he hopes that the two MPs will do more to assist the school.