??An aerial view of the new auditorium at the St. Leonard’s Boys’ School. (A. Miller/BGIS)

"A facility that can be the envy of men!"

This was the description given by Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, as he described the newly renovated auditorium at the St. Leonard’s Boys’ School during a re-dedication ceremony today.

"It is a facility which you should use to maximum effect and benefit," Mr. Jones said, as he noted that the upcoming Crop Over season would see others trying to use "the 1000-seat, well-appointed auditorium for calypso tents."

Mr. Jones added that whenever students used the hall for indoor sports, they would need to exercise extreme care because it had a parquet floor. He also reminded persons in the community that just over $502,000 was spent to ensure the facility, as well as the playing field and walkway, were "right for the use of the school and for all of those who would use it".

The Minister stressed: "Sometimes too many of our facilities, built by the State from taxpayers’ money are in fact vandalised, badly damaged and abused because some people in their dim-witted notions believe that Governments have money."

Debunking the notion, he stated, "Governments take from people and give back to people. So if you damage, [property] it means that we have to take more from you to replace that which is damaged. Surely that doesn’t make sense, particularly in these very difficult high cost of living times. You want that extra resource to feed your family. So don’t damage that which has been built or refurbished or constructed, but care it, ensure that it is there for future generations to use."

He told students that both the Ministry and the Board of Management recognised the importance of providing them with good facilities and said, "…More particularly for our young men because we have to demonstrate to the world that our young men are not indolent, not wayward and prone to criminal behaviour, but [that] they too, with the right leadership and teachers can truly make remarkable citizens."??

The refurbished auditorium at the St. Leonard’s Boys’ School was one of many projects completed during this school year, at that institution.?? This fact was reiterated by the principal, Joseph King, as he addressed the ceremony. He noted that the school was in essence showcasing three projects, including the upgrade of its playing field, the building of a walkway for staff, allowing them free access to and from class-rooms during rainfall, and thirdly, the renovation of the auditorium.

He said: "The last two projects have been combined to produce, a very pleasing sight. In the auditorium, renovations included improving the acoustics, repairing broken chairs on the upper landing, replacing?? some of these with benches, laying a new floor, which will be capable of being used for both indoor games and cultural activities and establishing a hall of fame for our boys."??

Reiterating that the projects were undertaken at a cost of BDS $ 502,200.07, he added this represented a savings of $9899.93, from the budgeted $512,000.00 which was approved.

Mr. King pointed out that the auditorium had "high income generating possibilities," and anticipated that it would become the cultural and artistic centre of the school and community systems in Barbados.


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