THE HAILE SELASSIE HIGH SCHOOL RESTORATION PROJECT
The Haile Selassie High School, situated near Three Miles in the Payne Land - Tavaris Gardens - region of South Western St. Andrew - was bequeathed as a royal gift to the people of Jamaica by the Ethiopian Monarch of the same name. During his three-day April 1966 State Visit to Jamaica, His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie the First laid the foundation stone for the building of the educational institution bearing his name.
Over the forty plus years since then, the school has been seriously underfunded by the Jamaican government and the campus facilities have deteriorated badly. The school’s location in a poorer area of Kingston has also hampered the staff’s ability to provide all the required educational and social services for the students. Presently the Haile Selassie School needs a wall built around the campus, especially to increase the security of the facility. Electricity in the classrooms and proper water utilities on campus are also grossly inadequate and both services are in need of urgent and drastic improvement.
An awareness of our past is essential to the establishment of our personality and our identity as Africans.Haile Selassie Emperor of Ethiopia
RESTORATION PROJECTIn order to help enhance the school’s infrastructure and to assist in the welfare of the students, the Rootz Foundation established the Haile Selassie High School Restoration Project. Since 2007, the Florida based Rootz Foundation has been utilizing the radio and cultural events to raise public awareness about the vital necessity for community support to assist in the redevelopment and upkeep of the West Kingston institution. Through the Restoration Project, the Foundation has been spearheading a fund-raising campaign to help improve physical conditions at the school and also to help provide school supplies as well as other necessities for the needy student population who are from a poor socio-economic and violence prone community.
There are presently 37 teachers on the academic faculty, 9 people on the administrative staff and 20 ancillary staffers at the Haile Selassie High School and the institution has a student body of approximately 806 children. In terms of the Faculty, the school still needs:
- A full-time Music Teacher
- A Spanish Teacher
- A Religious Studies Teacher
- A Sports Teacher/instructor (to develop a Track and Field program and a Soccer program)
A Student Special Needs Fund has been proposed because many of the children cannot afford decent shoes, let alone the school uniform. A Special Needs Fund would allow for the purchase of such items for those students in need. Further, the school needs Social Workers to assist in important intervention procedures with the children who have a lot of personal issues to deal with.
In terms of the facility and equipment, the Haile Selassie School would do wonders with another Computer Lab to facilitate the student demand and to support teaching for student achievement. The warranty on the present e-learning equipment will expire in April 2012 and the school has to assume the cost of approximately US$4,000 per annum to insure and maintain the equipment. Additionally, the Performing Arts Department needs a Performing Arts Center to properly channel the creative energies and talents of the students. The musical intelligence of students would be enhanced by having a fully equipped Music/Band Room in the near future. School Principal Mr. Lorenzo Ellis indicates that there will soon be a need to construct five new classrooms along with a workshop for auto-mechanics as the student population grows.
In the meantime, the school needs a secure gate at the entrance to the compound and it needs at least a proper fence or preferably a wall around the perimeter. The classrooms need electrical re-wiring, the plumbing system needs upgrading, and many of the classroom windows need to be repaired and/or replaced.
On a positive note, the School has been the All-Island Champions in Badminton, for both the male students and the female students. Haile Selassie High has consistently dominated first place as Male and Female All-Island Champions in various school badminton competitions from 2005 right up to the present (2011). However, the school still needs material support to develop a comprehensive sports program. A dedicated budget is necessary for an effective nutritional support program for all students involved in competitive sports as well as to purchase sports gear and equipment like table tennis boards, nets and racquets, soccer balls and uniforms and also to refurbish the playing fields. At the same time, additional remuneration is necessary to retain the services of badminton, track, football and netball coaches. Currently there is no dedicated budget for cricket and basketball coaches despite the demand to venture more into these areas of sports.
The final component of the Haile Selassie High School Restoration Project is a proposed two-pronged medical outreach program for the students. This program would be aimed at providing students with (1) a dental check up and any necessary dental work, and (2) an eye-screening to test their vision and provide glasses where necessary.
ACHIEVEMENTS TO DATE:
August 2013:Rootz Foundation President Priest Douglas Smith and Foundation Director Dr. Michael Barnett accompany Dr. Julius Garvey, son of National Hero Marcus Garvey, on his first visit to the Haile Selassie High School. The visitors are given a tour of the school by Principal Lorenzo Ellis and also meet with a delegation of students, parents and teachers.
June 2013:Rootz Foundation Inc and the Miami-based Children of Rastafari purchase and donate a set of six industrial sized ceiling fans to the school. The fans are mounted in the newly refurbished auditorium in time for the annual end of year graduation exercise.
April 2013:Rootz Foundation Director Dr. Michael Barnett organizes and hosts the school’s Founder’s Day anniversary program. .
April 2012:Rootz Foundation Director Dr. Michael Barnett organizes and hosts the school’s Founder’s Day anniversary program.
April 2011: Rootz Foundation Director Dr. Michael Barnett organized a 2-day program of activities. The first day included an exhibition of photographs, the screening of the ‘Lion of Judah’ film and a lecture by Dub Poet Yasus Afari to mark the school’s Founder’s Day. The following day, the anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie I’s 1966 State Visit to Jamaica, a Rastafari motorcade retracing the Emperor’s Route on the day of his arrival, stopped by the school and participated in the ongoing event there. A week later a Fund-Raising Concert was organized by Dr. Barnett in conjunction with the Uprising Roots Band, and members of the Haile Selassie High School Staff at Tuff Gong Recording Studios, Marcus Garvey Drive Kingston.
March 2011:Rootz Foundation President Douglas Smith delivered first set of photo-portraits to Principal Lorenzo Ellis for the proposed Special Collections museum project. Priest Douggie also delivered school bags and other classroom supplies. In addition the Foundation President took along Philadelphia-based educational psychologist Dr. Umar Johnson to deliver a motivation address to the staff and students at the Haile Selassie high school. The following day, “Jamaica Day”, Priest Douglas Smith and Dr. Johnson participated in a workshop for students as part of the day’s special activities.
December 2010:Rootz Foundation Director Dr. Michael Barnett organized a fundraising concert at the Tuff Gong museum in Kingston in aid of the Haile Selassie high school.
April 2010:Dr. Michael Barnett helps to organize and coordinate a cultural program at the school, which by designation of Principal Lorenzo Ellis, becomes the school’s first Founder’s Day celebration in honor of its establishment in April 1966.November 2009:Rootz Foundation Director Dr. Michael Barnett, along with Simiya House, Rasis International, and the U.N.I.A. organized a fundraising concert at the Tuff Gong museum in Kingston in aid of the Haile Selassie high school.
April 2009:Priest Douglas Smith presented a gift donation of musical instruments and school supplies to Principal Barnett the Haile Selassie high school in Kingston early in the month. The instruments – a cello, clarinet and a double-bass guitar – were donated by Ras Mike McCalla and family from Central Florida. Two weeks later Dr. Michael Barnett organized a celebration of the 43rd anniversary of the school’s founding. Guest speakers at the event were Dr. Marcia “Queen Mother Moses” Stewart and Dr. Jalani Niaah.
December 2008:A donation of US $1,100 (one-thousand, one-hundred dollars) generated by a mini radio campaign in the US by Rootz Foundation is made to the Haile Selassie school by Foundation Director Dr. Michael Barnett.
September 2008:Donation of JA$100,000 (one-hundred-thousand dollars) from the proceeds of the July fund-raising concert, is presented to the Haile Selassie High School administration by Dr. Barnett and Mr. and Mrs. Brissett of Livity Restaurant.
July 2008:Rootz Foundation hosted a fundraising concert in New Kingston, Jamaica, in association with Livity Restaurant, in aid of the Haile Selassie High School Project.
May 2008:Dr. Michael Barnett takes Prince Ermias, grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie I and President of the Ethiopian Crown Council, on his first visit to the school established by his grandfather. The prince meets with the staff and students of the school and takes a tour of the facilities.
APPEALRootz Foundation implores all conscious minded people to help preserve the very important and historical legacy that the Haile Selassie High School represents. Well wishers can assist the Haile Selassie I High School Restoration Project in cash or kind, by calling the Rootz Foundation Inc. in Florida USA at 954-981-1176, or sending an email message to rootz firstname.lastname@example.org