When the students of Grades 1 and 2 at the Watermount Primary School arrive there in September, they will step onto freshly laid tiles courtesy of past student, ace entertainer Chris Martin.
Situated in the community of Back Pasture in North West St. Catherine, the Watermount Primary School has 150 pupils on roll. Founded in the 1800s, it was formerly known as Old Works Elementary School but was renamed and moved to its present location on July 3, 1950.
Martin began his academic career there in 1993 and graduated in 1998.
“This was where it all started for me. It has a very special place in my heart. This is where the real moulding of Christopher Martin all started. This is where I learned the basic things in life – honesty and loyalty, not just book work but all the fundamentals you need to go through life,” he said during a visit to the school this week where he laid the very first tile.
“From a tender age when you meet your very first friend and you know friendships are very integral during school, like if you miss a class you need your friend to be there for you so from a tender age I have felt this is where it all started, everything manifesting right here.”
Karlene Laing, a senior teacher at the school, said Martin’s largesse could not have come at a more opportune time.
“We are so happy that this is being done, especially at this time when we are embarking on a new curriculum, the National Standard Curriculum that requires students to be active in learning which will see them at times going onto the floor to complete activities,” said the teacher who has been at the school since 2005.
“The tiling of the classrooms will accommodate these activities and makes it so that the children don’t soil their uniforms on what would normally be a red-polished floor,” she added.
She revealed that the project of tiling the floors has been a part of the school’s improvement plan for the past four years but the costs made it prohibitive, revealing that when the estimates were done then, the school was looking at a budget of about J$800,000.
With the tiling the school will also realize saving in maintenance costs as they will no longer need to buy polish every three weeks.
“We are really grateful,” she said.
Martin began assisting the school back in 2015 in the form of a fair and treat held on the school grounds after which he would donate the proceeds to the school along with back-to-school supplies. However, a congested schedule this year saw him take a different approach to his charitable efforts.
“It’s just the timing. The team and I didn’t have the time to put as much energy into it as much as we wanted to so we decided to take the year off and still give something. I feel like there is a lot that needs to be done. We’ve done a lot already but seeing like we are not going to be able to do the treat this year for the community and then the proceeds would come to the school, I felt like we still had to do something for the school.”
Martin has also committed to tiling the other seven rooms at the school, something that Laing welcomes, saying that the children from the other classes will be jealous when they return on September to see the shiny new tiled floors in Grades 1 and 2.
He believes this will be added motivation for the students.
“When nice things are done for you without your knowledge it shows that you are always being thought of. That is what we want to keep in the minds of the kids up here. Great things can come from the smallest of places.”