The atmosphere at the Frederick Smith Secondary School was reportedly “very sombre” as dozens of teachers and students, for the first time returned to the compound for a full day of school nearly two weeks after a pupil was fatally stabbed there.
Students were tight-lipped as they hurriedly approached the school after disembarking buses and vehicles outside the Trents, St James compound. There, they were met with their new reality of an increased security presence, metal detectors and searches at the gate.
On the compound, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training Senator Rommel Springer observed the morning’s proceedings with chairman of the school’s board Lisa Gale.
Efforts by reporters to get an official update on the situation were cut short as the chairman ordered media workers off the compound.
During assembly, Principal Major Michael Boyce could be heard giving words of reassurance and encouragement to the students while attempting to quell any instances of disorderly behaviour.
Reverend Keith Griffith, a retired priest and former principal of Frederick Smith School also addressed students. After assembly, he told reporters the atmosphere in the school is not as dreadful, tearful or fearful as it was two weeks before and added the worship setting brought some healing.
“The school is not lost because of the tragedy and the tragedy can be a part of the way forward and in looking back, you will see that a tragedy can be part of a defining moment for an individual, for a country, for a people. So, whereas you don’t want the tragedy, if it occurs you must see what you can learn from it, modify your behaviour and go forward,” he said.
Reverend Griffith who was standing just footsteps away from where students were being screened by security guards, cautioned that while the new security measures could contribute to much needed improvements, only an upgrade in fundamental values could spark real behavioural changes.
“It is just one of the measures we use in the prevailing situation, but the problem is going to be addressed when the behavioural modification takes place. It is the behavior that causes people to do good or bad, right or wrong and the values that children embrace and the standards and morals.
“If security could have done it, the moral and social issues would not be a problem. We have the [Royal Barbados] Police force and the Barbados Defence Force and all the other agencies and we still have crime in Barbados. Security is important, but the improvement in behavior must start within the children themselves and a change has to come about,” he said.
The much-needed values, the former principal declared, would only be instilled when families and communities embraced religious principles including prayer, worship and fellowship at church.
“…All of the things that help to build people spiritually, people want to pull away from and still think they can have this well-ordered society, but the order comes from your values,” he argued.
Sources within the school told Barbados TODAY the turnout on Thursday was much better than it was the day before when students in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th forms were asked to report for a counselling session. Barbados TODAY also understands some teachers, who assisted Temario Holder before he succumbed to stab wounds, had gone on sick leave.
“I am unsure exactly how many teachers were absent but as you could imagine the mood is very sombre and there is just a heaviness and a sadness. I suppose people are just tired of talking,” said the source, who indicated no official classes were held.
“There were just general discussions…It’s just so hard on us that I suppose they don’t even want to discuss it. I don’t know what we’re going to do. It’s so hard all around,” the source added.
President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union Mary Redman indicated she would need more information from union members at the institution before offering an official comment. Efforts to reach Barbados Union of Teachers’ President Sean Spencer were unsuccessful.