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Archives 2007

Haile High Students Produce New Video

In a bold move, Haile High has advanced its curriculum to include the most refined of communications tools, the DVD video.  Today the students are busy writing storyboards and scripts, and learning their lines for the upcoming movie that will feature them and their teachers…(and anything else they can chase down with their camera ). The video is being shot digitally in the 16:9 format with MP3 audio.  Cuts of visiting musical groups and dancers will liven the tracks as well as scenes from White Sands Beach where Queens Sam’s synchronized (ha!) swim team will exhibit their finest strokes.

Gathering at Dr's Cave Beach for a swim before classes.lft to rt; Britney, Roxanne, Queen Sam, Aneika, Randy, Ashley, Opel and Vaneika.
Queen Sam and two of her Haile Mermaids improvise a synchronized swimming maneuver in preparation for the upcoming Haile High Revealed.  The stunt is called “Trinity”.  We have no count as to how many young Jamaicans have learned to swim in the six years of Haile High's swimming program…  We don't count…at Haile High, we DO.
Scene from “Haile High Revealed”:    “Bad girl Tia”  has it out with “Skweeky” at their first meeting at the beach…only to find that later, when she enrolls at school, Skweeky is her assigned teacher.  Big Trouble at the Cottontree!
Senior Life Guard, Brian congratulates Aneika for her heroic 1st swim out to the raft at Dr’s Cave Beach. When she dove off for her return to the beach, her screech of delight could be heard for miles. She and many other girls have ventured into the Caribbean Sea for the first time under the gentle tutelage of Queen Sam

Orange juice, cheese sandiches and sunshine…what more could a Haile High student want?

Answer: To get at the computer!

Chin finishes a title board for the video while Opal helps Britney’s young brother, Brian, with his spelling. Brian is only visiting.  Haile High requires that participants in its student-teacher program to be able to read and write. That would generally mean a minimum age of 7.
Anika (in foreground) helps Chin with her first computer lesson. Swimming together in the morning before classes brings the girls together quickly. They show great respect for their teachers and fellow students.  We are all one big family.
Queen Sam guides Shantell and Ashley as they prepare to light the set of the Haile High video.  This year is the first to include instruction in video production.  The girls are fascinated by the intricacies involved. As Kali & Sam are experienced videographers, the learning is not only easy… it's lots of fun too.
Vaneika and Kali work out a problem in dialogue.  Although English is the preferred language of teaching at Haile High, patois and the culture it represents is a treasure that won’t be encumbered by droll verbology from another land.  That's Haile High's stand: We teach computer, Spanish, music, art, Signing and anything else that seems important to these kids…and our "Mainland" teachers are required to learn patois.  This is a Jamaican school!

A star is born!

Vaneika Smith, laboring under heavy make-up and blazing lights, delivers her introduction to the Haile High Video that the students are making.  It is an on-going project that is part of their training in advanced communications. Vaneika is shown here during her 30th take of a short clip. Giggling is very much a part of our video making at the “Tree”

School Administrator, Opel Kentish, explains the functions of Haile High to her video audiance.  (At the rate we're going, it will be premiered in the year 2012).
Opel and her young film makers take a break in the action to pose with their benefactor, Emperor Haile Sellasie I, for whom the school is named. Selassie brought Ethiopia and most of Afrika out of the dark ages by his persistence on proper education for all youth.
Britney can't resist the lure of an open microphone as she renders an impromptu song.  (I don’t think I'd buy the CD.)
Future video makers; Aneika, Tia and Kay viewing “;rushes” of the Haile High video shoot.
The Binghi drummers show at the school to make their appearance on the “Haile High Revealed” video. They are one of the most popular attractions in the Montego Bay area. An inspiring sound never to be forgotten.

Welcome the New Year!

As Haile High picks up after the holiday season, we check in on the changes happening in our school and in the lives of our students.  Here is Kali’s report of the 21 January class that wasn’t supposed to be, illustrated with photos from this year’s fun.

It was Saturday morning with no school planned… a day off! A chance to recuperate.  Breakfast was going to be leisurely, and the day slow and open to anything restful.

The phone rang at 10.  It was Opal.  Her battery was running on empty, so I had to call her back.  She was at The Doctor’s Cave Beach Club and wanted to know where I was.  She had Roxy, Aneika & Vaneika, and all were ready to go swimming…but the club dues hadn’t been paid as yet.  What should she do?

I directed her to bring everyone back up to the Cottontree.  We would have a morning class in place of swimming.  They arrived here and Roxy set to work teaching Vaneika Microsoft Word on the back front porch (a word of explanation is due here:  Because Haile High opens on the both sides of the building, it has 2 porches; one in the front and one in the back.  Though confusing, they are named as such).  Vaneika and Opal worked on the Mavis Typing Program.  Soon, Cleo arrived and began getting ready for her post vacation return to college.  Things began to get nutty (as usual, but with more energy because of the hour).

At 12:30 I set to making the lunches.  As chef d'jour, I expanded the menu.  Cleo wanted Tuna Fish with lettuce, Aneika wanted peanut butter and jelly on toast, Roxy wanted a 2 slice cheese sandwich (hold the tomatoes), Opal cheese and tomato, and of course Vaneika wanted cheese and blueberry jam…slightly toasted.  All selected orange juice to drink.  They ate, and then went back to computing while I cleaned the kitchen.

Mongoose somehow snuck into the mix and began asking when we were going to take him to the beach???  He’s not a bonafide student at Haile High, for he has yet to read and write…which is our only requirement for training would be teachers.  One of Goose’s tactics is to ask the same question repeatedly until one breaks down and gives in.

OK MONGOOSE!  OK!  NOW!  WE GO NOW!!   After weeks of begging, Mongoose was finally going to the beach.

Somehow we all got things back together, found a bathing suit for Mongoose, straightened out the school, closed it down, and headed to get a cab for the beach.  Miraculously, an empty one pulled up.  Unusual for Saturday.  We all crammed in and headed joyously to the shore. 

At The Cave we were greeted with the usual ruckus about memberships, and whose kid belonged to whom.  We wore them down, and only had to pay for two children.  It should be noted that the Doctor’s Cave Beach Club is the safest place to swim.  It is also very expensive.  Haile High supports several memberships there, and pays full fare for those kids who are not covered.  Without a doubt, we are the singular, largest year ‘round customers on their books, yet (probably because of our rag-tag appearance) we are treated as second class citizens there. The tourists and fat cats come first.

Mongoose was awe struck by the Beach Club, the ocean, the sand, and the throng of people enjoying the water.  He is an unusual entity.  He seems to have a biblical air about him that commands a sacred feeling.  Perhaps the sight is of “simple innocence.”  All eyes were on him as he trod carefully behind me through the umbrellas to Brian's Life Guard Station.  The girls giggled off,  to change and look at themselves in the mirrors of the rest room.

While we waited for them to emerge, I gave Mongoose a “swimming lesson”:  Simply, to keep his mouth shut and not to breathe-in while he was under water.  Although it was less than verbal, the Goose seemed somewhat to understand.

The girls arrived in their usually tittering mood.  By now all eyes at The Cave were on the Haile High Show  (we are not your average tourist group) .  Mongoose was champing at the bit.  It was apparent that he'd never been to sea before.  Brian, the Head Life Guard (and a champion of Haile High’s swimming program) was out in the water hustling a couple of plump NY dames… a fitting target for a sneak, submerged attack.  I yelled "watch me!" over my shoulder, and left the Goose sitting there as I did my famous submarine torpedo dive in the direction of the plump trio.  When I surfaced and turned to see if Mongoose had caught on.  He had disappeared.  He had followed me and was now under water, his limbs flailing wildly. At first I thought he was drowning.  On closer examination, I saw that he was swimming like a new-born otter…the most impressive sight I've seen in years.  Although, awkwardly, he was maneuvering under water… effortlessly somersaulting and surfacing, slashing out over his head then disappearing again… and again.  An absolute Natural!  Whose only instruction was to keep his mouth shut  He had no idea that he was in another medium.  Totally fearless and thrilled!

The wind had picked-up and I was getting cold.  Aneika was cold too (she is our newest qualified swimmer).  I explained that the best way to get warm was to we began a race to the raft.  Man! what a tough swim for me.  I felt my lungs were working at about half capacity because of bronchitis and lack of exercise.  But we pressed-on.  There were eight roughnecks wrestling wildly on the raft.  I asked her if that bothered her (we communicate well when we swim together).  She chirped, “no problem”.

We made it to the raft.  Brian saw us going out and had given a timely yell to the roughnecks and they calmed down while we climbed aboard. We sat and talked for a while.  She is such a Dear!  When it was time to return, she was reluctant to jump in, so as she stood on the edge getting her nerve up, I kicked her in the behind.  She flew through the air with a joyful scream and finally bobbed-up from the deep, thrilled from experiencing a new trick.  Keep in mind; this is only the second time she’s been in water over her head.  These Jamaican kids are remarkable in their ability to grasp new adventures without question or fear. We began our leisurely swim back to the gang  who were still playing in the surf.

Opal had set out to teach the Goose how to float, but there was something wrong.  When I reached, he had tensed up like a hardened rope.  With her usual perseverance, Opal was either going to float him, or drown him.  He was now shivering and bordering on convulsion.  I asked if he was cold.  He wasn't.  Was it fear?  He said no (he doesn't speak very well for a 12 year old, so it was hard to get a response).  He just kept saying he was hungry as he shivered violently.  I quickly put my arms under him and carried him to our blanket.  He was solid ice… HYPOTHERMIA?

Apparently Mongoose doesn't feel the cold.  Opal says that her son, Juna, has some of the same symptoms about temperature and pain.  I set him on the blanket, dried him off and started to dress him.  By now every eye on the beach was enjoying the fun.  It had started in the water earlier when his makeshift trunks slipped off.  Vaneika had nearly drowned laughing.

Another kink in Mongoose’s affliction triggers an intense detail to procedure.  I got one shirt on him, but he decided the other should go on first.  Cloaking him was like dressing a plate of cold spaghetti.  The more he tried to avoid the new medium of sand, the more he got coated by it. Now it was time for the pants.  I looked about for a place to take him, but before I could act, he had dropped his pants, then his underwear and was now standing half-naked before  two giggling Japanese girls who were sitting close by.  Later I told Opal that it was remarkable  that here were two women who had flown 8 thousand miles to get a look at the famous ebony bamboo of Jamaica...and here it was, right in their faces at the exclusive Doctor’s Cave Beach Club.

It took a while longer to get the rest of Mongoose’s clothes on.  By that time I was starting to feel like I'd been up for quite a while, and was beginning to stumble about trying to get my own pants on.  Of course one pant leg got timely stuck inside the other.  Again, when it came to my shirt, one of the sleeves was inside-out, which took a bit of on-and-offing to straighten out.  Now we were ready to go get something for Mongoose to eat.  That's when I noticed I had buttoned my shirt to the wrong holes.  I heard someone say, "Yeah…you're right, that is his father."

We gathered at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the street.  I said a silent prayer asking that the big, black plastic bag that Opel had been lugging, would not bust its seams and tumble the 24 empty Heineken bottles down the stairs.  Opal is not a genuine “bag lady” in the true sense of the word.  She is, however, a strict penny-pincher, and does her best to make every cent count; as is her duty as Administrator of Haile High.  A Blessing!  That woman.  The bag held and our audience was deprived of one final moment of slapstick comedy.

My Saturday off had dissolved into absolute and uncontrollable  hilarity...but the funniest scene was when we all walked down to see Tony (He’s Aneika and Vaneika’s dad who has a stand on The Strip where he sells his carvings).  Every Saturday morning after swimming, we yell a loud greeting to him as we drive by in the van heading up to school…only today,Aneika in Red was different.  The schedule was backward.  He looked-up scratched his head, checked his watch, then scratched his head again.  It seemed that all he could remember was that he had last seen his kids at nine AM when he left them at the Club… and now…late in the afternoon, we were on our way to get cabs to go home from the beach.  We tried to explain, but it is one of those things that I think he'll never get figured out.

Here is a perfect Cameo of Aneika's beautiful mind:  She had got all gussied-up in the dressing room, with make-up and ting.  While waiting for a cab, she strutted a bit and gave it her worldly, 14 year old Jamaican "hot girl" look of complete togetherness.  This, of course, prompted me to mention that a piece of caliloo was stuck between her front teeth.  The Hindenburg collapsed!  She covered her mouth with her hands.  No amount of explaining the joke would draw her hands away from her face.  I finally asked her when she last ate caliloo (it’s out of season now).  A light flashed on. She got the point and lowered her hands in relief...her pristine white teeth flashing with joy.  How I Love that girl! … and all of the other kids who make Haile High a joy to behold.

We need you
One Love

News from Haile High Satellite Schools

Courtesy of some Jamaican workers at Nagog Hill Apple Orchard in Littleton, Massachusetts; Haile High will soon have satellite schools in six of the 14 parishes in Jamaica. These generous workers will carry computers to their homes and their children will become the next teachers. Stay tuned for more information about this!

Haile High @ Bullet Tree

When Sashane called to tell us her computer had stopped working again, a rescue mission was quickly formed. With the newest computer, Kimone, Kali and Sam set off with Kebel at the wheel. In addition to the computer, we also carried a printer – the first in the Petersfield branch of Haile High.

Many of the computers here at Haile High have been donated by John Kotsaftis, whose shop, Computer Surplus Solutions, repairs old computer equipment for resale. Sash’s new computer came from John's shop. He can be reached at: Thanks, John.

Kimone and Sam help Sash print her first file while one of her students looks on.

Kim, Sash, Sam
Kim and Dervil communicate with sign language

Haile High @ Cousin Cove

We got off to a late start. Keble's car needed some repairs. He worked on it with Ucal's mechanic, and I sat trying to calm Kim who was all in a fret because the schedule was tight and she had to be at her school banquet at 3pm I had called Ruddy and told him we'd be there at one. When we finally reached, it was well after 2. Kim was well late for her gig, but it turned out that it didn't matter.

Kim met Dervel and the moment was electric. They hadn't done much at Cousin Cove since we left, but in an instant Dervel was back on line...and you should have seen them go. It was the first time he had spoken to anyone who knew ASL. He learned more from her in half an hour than any student could learn in a formal institution in a year. She was having fun and he was blown-away! I caught a taste of the action on my vid cam.

Ruddy served a nice lunch. Fern looked on with beaming eyes. Ruddy's 3 dogs had snuck under the table to watch our every move; at fork's length from their hungry eyes. Keble is hooked on Cousin Cove, and wants to move there. The silence was beautiful. We had forgotten about quiet for so long.

Kimone and Dervil use more sign language

Sasha brings a broken computer to Kali

Bullet Tree Comes to Haile High

Sashane Brown, Director of the Petersfield branch of Haile High has brought her broken computer all the way to Montego Bay for Kali to fix it. She has no problem traveling across Jamaica by herself. Her determination to make the Petersfield Haile High successful is seen by her attention to having the computer work well for the classes she teaches. She presently has six students all of whom would never have had a chance to learn computing. Her students call her Miss Brown.

Haile High’s repair bench is far from being a “state of the art” tech lab, but it does get things done, and in the process our students learn what’s inside their computers and how to keep them running.

Teh haile High computer repair bench
A broken computer on the repair bench

Here lies the broken laptop from Haile High, Petersfield. The computers we have are junk, given to us by various repair depots who have given up on them. We can’t afford to have new computers that aren’t bound by defects, so most of Kali’s time is spent in trying to keep what we have operational. It's a sad dilemma that could be easily solved by viewers who have lap tops that work but that they no longer need. Email Kali via if you can help. Give thanks.

The White Goddess of Walkers Wood

Who has ever visited Jamaica that has not heard the legend of Annie Palmer, "The White Witch of Rose Hall"? It's amazing how the history of such a nefarious psychopath can titillate the imagination of so many souls, while the story of another woman...a gracious and kind woman...can be buried by time, with but a wisp of remembrance. We set things straight here and now! Click here …

Dorothea Hugehs Simmons

Cleo Nails First Year of College!

Our gel Cleo scores top honors in her first year at Montego Bay College … Communication 2 – A … Fundamentals of Accounting – A … Business Ethics – B+ … Communication 1 – B+ … Financial Accounting – B+ … Management –B+ … Microeconomics – B+ … Pre-Calculaus – B+ … Psychology – B+

Cleo writes: “My grade point average is 4.18 and that makes me outstanding!!!!! Yaay me!!! I hope you guys are proud.”

We sure are!!!!!!!!!!

She has chosen accounting as her major because it's so much fun!! She appreciates all the help she has received from our Haile High Times readers.

Cleo writes:

Hey Pops!!!!!

Hallo!! I really hope you are doing well, I am and boy do I have great news. I know officially that I have made the honour roll at my school!!!! I got a certificate and a cute little pin and everything during a convocation ceremony held on Monday. It was all so great!!! I really felt like I accomplished something great!!

I guess this means that I am officially smart! I am really proud of me and my achievement and I know that if it weren’t for your help I wouldn’t be able to pursue this little dream of mine. Thanks a million!!!!!!

Today I am here at the Cottontree with one of my favourite students here at H.H. Ms. Aneika Smith. We are here to do her homework for the week and we are having some fun doing it too!!!! I like the fact that the school serves more than one purpose thus preventing it from being visualized as being mundane!!!


Kids in Motion Scholarship Fund News

Cleo is in the habit of writing thank you notes to our contributors to the Kids In Motion Scholarship Fund. Here's a sample of one of the notes she wrote:

Hallo Mrs. Macone!! This is a message of appreciation from the bottom of the hearts of all of us here at Haile High. We recognize your interest in us and are excited that you find our institution as interesting as we do. I am currently in my 2nd year at a community college here in Montego Bay and that's all thanks to this school, Sam, Sandy, and your contributions. Thank you and WATCH US GROW.


Another contributor, Dan Beach, acknowledges his letter from Cleo:

What a lovely note from Cleo. Such a profound effect you have on everyone you touch.

I have to be in Boston the following weekend so I can only send love and good thoughts for the Reunion

Students at the computers

Queen Sam asked the students:

  • Am I happy doing what I’m doing?
  • What am I doing to add to the confusion?
  • What can I do to bring about peace and contentment?
  • How will I be remembered after I’m gone?

Click to read how our students answered these four questions.

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