PTA President Address 2015
I would like to acknowledge Mrs. Aqui, Principal, Holy Name Convent,
Mrs. Perkins, Vice-Principal,
Members of the outgoing HNC PTA Executive, Parents, students and well-wishers. Thank you for taking the time to attend the Annual General Meeting of the Holy Name Convent, Parent Teachers Association.
The school year started with the PTA Annual General Meeting (AGM) being held in September 2014. Most parents are unaware of what happens at the AGM annually and as such, we normally struggle for a positive turn-out but, the meeting was well attended in September. This was in part due to the enhanced communications leading up to the PTA AGM. The purpose of the PTA AGM is two fold. Firstly, the Parent Body is given a report of how well the school is doing academically, challenges it faces and how funds are raised via fund-raising and other collections were dispensed with during the previous school year. Secondly, the out-going PTA gives an account of the activities it conducted during the previous term and, lastly, a new PTA Executive is voted in by the Parents that are present at the AGM. The PTA Executive is comprised of a mix of Parents, teachers and School Administration (Principal & Vice-Principal). The PTA normally meets once a month during each school term and addresses a number of issues and tries to execute initiatives that are of benefit to the Students and school at large. Each meeting is minuted and an Action tracker is maintained. The PTA body is a medium through which parents have the opportunity to represent other parent/student issues and also understand the operational dynamics of the school and assist in charting a course forward to improve the school and student body.
One of the core activities that the PTA engages in during the school year is coordinating fund raising events. Every year, Holy Name Convent depends more and more on Fund raising to run operational aspects of the School. But, Mrs. Aqui somehow finds a way through prudent expenditure to carry out some Capital Expenditure projects with the funds that are raised.
Some of the key fund raising events held during the 2014 – 2015 school year were the ‘Back in Times’ party held at the Anchorage in Chaguaramas. This was a huge success for a first time event. It was attended by a few hundred excited patrons who experienced songs from 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and danced the night away to strobe lights and fog ! There were also spontaneous ‘dance off’ crews, prizes for Best outfits and other door prizes. The corn soup and doubles were a big hit too ! I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge Tracey Hoford and Richard Joseph for spear-heading this project as they have shown their keen event management skills ! This event had a marginal profit margin of approximately $46,000. Not bad for a first time ‘Clean’ party ! So, the ‘Back in Times’ will be back by popular demand on Saturday 14th November 2015 ! Tickets are available after this meeting and we also be sending home one ticket to each home to support this crucial fund-raising event.
Close on the heels of the ‘Back in Times’ party in 2014 was the Annual School Bazaar. This has grown into a wonderful family event where fun was had by all, from mature patrons for the Tea Stall to teenagers ‘No contact’ Disco to toddlers on Horse Back riding. We even introduced our first Magic Show which was put on by one of our very talented parents. As most of you are aware, most of the students, staff and the Parent Body are very involved in pulling off this Annual milestone event. This event generated a net profit of $205,000.
More recently, after the Easter vacation, we hosted the largest ever turn-out of Annual Walk-a-thon. This was a true family affair which had a few hundred patrons walking around the Savannah, followed by a sumptuous breakfast on sale and distribution of a number of door prizes. Many felt accomplished with the completion ribbons that were pinned onto the patrons that completed the Savannah. The event concluded with the traditional ‘ice fight’, where the girls enjoyed themselves tremendously. I would like to acknowledge some of the members of Walk-a-thon Planning committee that came together to create an extremely successful event …. Cherise Annansen and Joanne Esdale …. And any other members of that powerful committee that is present here tonight…. This event generated a net profit of $135,000.
The PTA also plays a big role in having not only a say, but actively participates in the running of the school and various associated activities. One of those activities is the running of the school website. The website is envisioned to be the main portal for information distribution to all school stakeholders (parents, students, teachers and community). It is envisioned also that the website will eventually play an active role as a portal through which assignments and notes can be traded between teachers and students that will complement the technological age of learning. In this regard, I will make an appeal for parents or well-wishers who will like to assist by being part of the Website committee that will attend to Web Administration issues, Web content management and day-to-day updates.
More recently, parent and teacher representatives were invited to attend a training course with members of the School Administration, in the establishment of a School-Based management team. This training was conducted by the Ministry of Education and it was intended that this group be involved in an integrated approach to better manage the school’s affairs and assist in establishing vision and mission statements which will be followed by action plans to improve the school and the student body.
Of significance during the Easter vacation, the PTA implemented a Capital pilot project to install in a Form 3 classroom a full multimedia system, which included a Fixed suspended projector, motorized Project screen, and multimedia speakers. This was done to carry out the ongoing vision of improving the means by which students are taught through e-learning tools. The project was priced at $10,000. which was very cost effective considering the state of the art-equipment purchased and installed. The pilot project was a success as the multimedia system is used regularly in that classroom as a learning tool. Following the success of the Form 3 Pilot, the recently held Form 5 Graduation committee, donated money for the implementation of a Multimedia system in one of the Form 6 classrooms, this would have directly benefited their daughters. This was installed over the July / August vacation, which brings a count of 2 classrooms with full multimedia capabilities. As a result, we are pushing ahead to attempt to have this system implemented in a number of other classrooms for each year group, throughout the school. Any parent or well-wisher that is interested in sponsoring the installation of the multimedia system in a classroom, please contact the school and let us know. We are committed to providing an enhanced learning environment for our girls to keep pace with the technological age for which they must thrive.
Also, we have a team that has been working assiduously to put together a framework for a sustainable sports programme whereby the certain sporting programmes will be re-structured in order to have programmes to continue our success at the various sporting disciplines due to our talented pool of students.
STRING Ensemble and Pan Side
But Holy Name is not only about Acadamia and Sports. Holy Name has always strived towards the development of well-rounded students and to this end, the PTA is currently embarking on an ambitious project to partner with UTT at the Academy for Performing Arts to start extra-curricular classes at Holy Name that will eventually lead to the establishment of a ‘HNC String Ensemble’ ! Thats right, all those students that have wished to learn the Violin and the Chelo, the PTA is working towards have this programme commencing by October 2015. Look out for further details.
To compliment the String Ensemble, we will be re-starting our Pan side programme. We have engaged a new vibrant Pan Teacher that will teaching interested students, as an afterschool programme. This programme will also commence in October at a marginal cost per student.
SUMMER VACATION Projects
Over the July/August Vacation, the School undertook quite a number of Capital Infrastructural Projects with the assistance of the PTA. The most significant of these projects was the construction of a new classroom and additional meeting room, over the Girls Bathroom area. The project was the vision of Mrs. Aqui and the PTA assisted in Project management. This project was financed from the PTA funds that you the parents have assisted in raising…. TT$400,000. (Two years worth of bazaar funds !) The school is still short of approximately 7 classrooms, which the School’s administration is working closely with the Education Facilities company, a subsidiary of the Ministry of Education, to become a reality. As Mrs. Aqui has mentioned before, plans have already been drawn up and quite a number of site visits by various teams from the EFCL. We are hoping that with the change in government that this project still remains a priority for execution.
Also, undertaken over the summer vacation was the renovation of the Front Office. This project was financed by the HNC Past Pupils association at a cost of $ 70,000 and PTA assisted in Project management. This much need renovation has provided more desk space and ergonomic chairs for staff, a quantum leap in cupboard space for filing, security systems at both entry points, a First Aid station, Trophy Case, LCD screen that is intended to show Digital Message and updates on school activities.
Everyone would have noticed the rejuvenated Round-a-bout in Front of the School Hall. With the kind assistance of the Mayor of Port-of-Spain, the Port-of-Spain City Corporation executed the infrastructural aspect of the project (which saved us over $30,000.) and we had a Landscaping specialist put on turf grass and sprinkler system. The round-a-bout now provides for more overtaking space for vehicles especially during the morning drop off period to greatly assist in traffic management. We have also invested in safety cones to assist with the traffic management on mornings. We ask that parents and guardians work with the instructions of the security personnel on duty to ensure the safety of your children and a more streamlined traffic flow.
But, with all that we have accomplished over the last year, there are still a number of initiatives that still require the support of the Parent Body. One of those projects that has been a burning issue for a few years is the purchase of a School bus. To summarise, we have the money via corporate sponsorship for the purchase of the Bus but, the funds are only enough for the price of the bus less VAT. Only NGOs can make purchases of vehicles that are exempt from VAT. We have been getting the run-around for years from various governmental agencies that have not allowed the process of registering as an NGO to proceed. Anyone that believes that assist in ‘de-bottlenecking’ this process please make yourself known to myself or the School Administration. This School Bus will assist in having ready access to safely transport our dear Holy Name girls to their various competitions, sporting activities and retreats without depending on expensive and sometimes unreliable contracted maxi taxis. Also, on the drawing board is the Stationary shop, which will help our children readily access stationary materials that they may run out of from time to time and other books, papers and Art Supplies that can be accessed from one point in the school instead of us parents running from Bookstore to Bookstore to procure these items. And these are just some of the items we will like to get off the ground to assist our daughters and the entire school population. For the students, we would like for technology oriented parents or well-wishers to help use the Student Portal component of the School’s website to create areas for teachers to post material for their students to download for assisments, projects, past papers and SBAs. This will be a springboard that will assist our students in becoming more successful at their studies.
INVITATION TO PARENTS TO ASSIST
A question that you may be asking yourself is why should I be more intimately involved with my child’s education ? Isn’t that why I pay my taxes ? Doesn’t the government pay ALL the bills and provide all that Holy Name needs to ensure that my daughter is successful at her studies ? Numerous studies have shown that when parents are involved, students:
- Achieve Higher Grades and test scores;
- Are more likely to graduate with a full certificate of passes
- Have higher attendance rates, increased motivation, and improved self-esteem.
- Have lower suspension rates, decreased drug and alcohol use, and fewer instances of violent behaviour. (I know you are asking yourself surely you are not talking about Holy Name girls ?? You would be surprised !)
- Are more likely to persue Higher Education (Undergraduate and post-graduate)
We also know that the relationship between students and teachers, and between parents and teachers, has a major impact on a student’s success. Involved parents can recognize that teachers are committed to the well-being of students. Parents can ensure their child’s success by providing a home that encourages prayer and love of God, learning and supports physical, mental, and emotional development and by working with the school and other groups that have an impact on their child. Yes, I know, I have three daughters that attend Holy name convent … it takes TIME and CARE to be an involved parent. Education is a tremendous part of a child’s life. So, take that leap of faith to explore a new way that you can make a difference in your child’s education and welfare during the over 30 hours a week that your daughter attends this esteemed institution. Your child and your child’s school will be pleased to have you as an active and involved parent. Everyday offers a fresh opportunity to get involved with your child and her school.
The achievements that the PTA have made in conjunction with the administration of the school would not have been possible without the sacrifice and commitment of certain individuals. Firstly, I would like to thank Mrs. Aqui and Mrs. Perkins for their commitment and selflessness in the execution of their duties as Principal and vice-principal. Their support of the PTA is instrumental in the success of our daughters at not only the high-standards of CSEC and CAPE results but also at various sporting, Artistic and religious events. Also, I would like to single out Keitha Douglas, HNC’s Administrative Manager, for long hours and sacrifice of weekends, to ensure that a number of PTA based initiatives are executed. Thank you for your patience and dedication to the PTA and HNC, we cannot thank you enough for your support of this committee. My current serving PTA members, thank you all for your tireless nights and weekends that you have sacrificed to ensure that all of these PTA initiatives become a reality. Thank you for making time although you have a family to see about, a job to attend to and all other personal commitments that you sometimes have to set aside to attend meetings. Please note that your sacrifice and foresight will not only serve to excel this generation, but future generations of Holy Name scholars. So, I salute you ! I must make a special mention of our outgoing Vice-President, Tracey Hoford, who has been the back-bone of this committee for a number of years. I personally don’t know how this committee will run without the support and forward thinking of a wonderful and caring individual such as Tracey but, we will pray that her spirit stays with us as Holy name convent continues to progress higher and Higher. So thank you Tracey !!
In closing, I would like to sincerely thank all the parents who consistently support the school in pulling off various events or assist in the operational running of the school. A heartfelt THANK YOU ! The more support we have from parents such as these the more successful Holy Name would be and in turn, would only positively impact the development of our daughters. We look forward to your continued support and interest in the development of our Holy Name daughters !