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Dec 28, 2007

Wesley College gala to raise funds for school’s programs

Story PictureIt is a landmark of the old capital, but like most Belizean schools, to survive Wesley College must use creative means to garner financial support for its programs. Tonight News Five’s Kendra Griffith takes a closer look at the institution and how it continues to break new ground in education.

Kendra Griffith, Reporting
2007 marked the hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary of Wesley College.

Brenda Armstrong, Principal, Wesley College
“Wesley began offering secondary education in Belize in June of 1882. The school opened with five boys, the principal was Reverend T.N. Roberts and the school was located on Albert Street, just at the corner with South Street where Wesley Primary School is right now. That initiative was to some extent in line with what the Methodist Church was all about in this part of the world at that time. The mission included education.”

Fulfilling that mandate, the institution has taken on other missions … in 1950 girls began attending the college and they were among the first to offer sixth form education.

Today the school has a student body of six hundred and eight and a staff of forty-two. For the last eighteen years, Wesley has been prospering under the leadership of Principal Brenda Armstrong.

Brenda Armstrong
“I became principal in 1989 and I’ve been here since. I jokingly said at the time, who is the longest serving principal of this school and they said Reverend Caleb Cousins, who is by the way THE principal of this institution. You ask any of the graduates. And I said, well look out Caleb, I’m coming. I’ve passed that fifteen year mark that he made and it’s a joy to serve in this capacity. I don’t see myself being happy and content anywhere else.”

But Armstrong is not content to rest on her laurels and strives to ensure that Wesley College grows academically and structurally.

Brenda Armstrong
“One of the things we are happy about is that we have embraced the Caribbean Examinations Council offering of CSEC and over the years we have expended our offering so that our students have been able to sit those exams successfully. Presently our forth form students can offer as candidates for eleven subjects.”

“The music centre, the Wesley College Music Centre is another milestone that we must celebrate. Our music programme has taken off with wings. We currently have three bands, a steel band, an orchestra, and a marching band that we are so proud of. We are hoping that in the future we will be out there with trombones and trumpets and everything, not just the drum corp.”

The college has been celebrating its anniversary since September, but tonight, staff, supporters and students past and present will gather at the Belize Biltmore Plaza for a fundraising gala.

Patricia Bennett, Member, Wesley Board of Management
“Certainly there will be good music and good food and camaraderie and all the good things that go with the season and of course with this global tradition of “building on distinction”, I think I heard the principal say.”

The event is being organised by Wesley board member and alumni, Patricia Bennett.

Patricia Bennett
“It is really a good time to celebrate, but also on the more serious side, it is an effort in fundraising because the school really needs the assistance, every assistance that it can get, especially financial assistance.”

Kendra Griffith
“As an alumnus of the school are you proud of where it is today?”

Patricia Bennett
“Extremely proud, extremely proud and that is why perhaps I continue to give and give back to this institution because I think I am what I am because of being part of the Wesley College family.”

Brenda Armstrong
“Over the years we have produced giants in Belizean society. Our alumni span the corridor of law and medicine, teaching, all the professions and we have been a significant fact in the scene of education.”

And with the public’s assistance, Wesley College plans on continuing that tradition for generations to come. Kendra Griffith reporting for News Five.

The special guest of honour at tonight’s gala is Governor General Sir Colville Young.

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