Officer Russell speaking with tenth grade students during the classroom tours, at today’s special Father’s Day Celebrations at R.M. Bailey Senior High School.
Under the theme, “Promoting Fathers of Excellence,” fathers and other men of the community were honored at the annual Father’s Day Ceremony, held at R.M. Bailey Senior High School this morning. The event was held for the purpose of “highlighting men who are making a valuable contribution toward nation building.”
Among some of the special guests in attendance were Assistant Commissioner of Police, Leon Bethel; Leader of the DNA, Branville McCartney; Education Officer for the Southeastern District, T. Milton Lewis and keynote speaker Archdeacon James E. Palacious, along with other fathers, education officials and police officers.
During the morning prayer breakfast held for the guests, Assistant Commissioner Bethel took the time to recognize some young male officers from the community who were recently promoted. He also encouraged the development of a stronger partnership between the police and the schools.
Branville McCartney also gave remarks at the special occasion, noting that he was honored to be included in the day’s celebrations as “it is very rare that fathers are acknowledged.” He went on to state that his “greatest pleasure in life is being a father, not only to [his] three children but to other children and to other people.”
Mr. McCartney implored the men in the audience to reach out to the wider community, by extending their fatherly status to those who are without fathers or father figures. He went further to add, “Let us be our brother’s keeper in that regard. Let us look out for those persons who don’t have father figures. Let us invite them into our homes, and let us make sure that they have the proper guidance. That is the first step to getting this country back on track.”
Mr. Lewis applauded Principal Johnson for achieving great things at R.M. Bailey. He noted that “Mr. Johnson is a principal of second chances; rough, but in a good way.” “Sometimes our children need tough love and with that tough love we have to turn them around. This is what Mr. Johnson is doing here At R.M. Bailey. It is clear that something good is happening here and we have to mirror this in all of our schools.”
Mr. Lewis also expressed to the men present that they all have important jobs to do, jobs “given to [them] by God.” He further advised that, “even if you are not a biological father, you are a father to every one of the children in this country.” “We cannot close our doors and windows to the children in our community and say that they are not our responsibility. If we are to show the young people of the nation that we care, we can turn around the evil in our country for good.”
Principal Johnson was called to answer why he started this annual celebration, to which he responded that he was inspired while he was Principal at Government High School in 2010, after noting that the majority of guardians, who were registering their children and dependents, were mothers. Johnson stated that it was his goal to “get the father’s to come out” and so the annual father’s day celebration began.
Johnson further asserted that, “fathers are central to the emotional well-being of their children. They are capable care takers and disciplinarians. A father’s love is just as important to a child’s development as mothers, and sometimes more so. The withdrawal of a fathers love seems to play a bigger role in terms of problems with personality and psychological development, along with delinquency and substance abuse.”
Johnson also encouraged fathers to continue to be involved in their children’s care, as this, in his words, “makes life worth living and is a father’s true legacy.”
After singing a rendition of “I Believe the Children are Our Future” the key note speaker for the morning, Archdeacon James E. Palacious, mirrored many of the sentiments expressed by the other speakers. However he further commented that the parents of today need to teach their children about the country’s history; “remind the children of what life used to be.”
“Remind them that before 1967 people who reached the age of 14 left school, unless you went to one of the private schools. But most of our parents could not afford the private schools or we couldn’t get in any way. We need to remind our children of these things so that they don’t take what they have today for granted.”
He also explored some of the social reasons why he believed things have “gone wrong” in society. He expressed that one of our major challenges is the type of children we are producing. He stressed that, “we cannot build a society where more than 60% of our children are born out of wedlock; some planned and some unwanted. The children are going to grow up angry.”
In order to combat the amount of unwanted pregnancies in the country, he urged for the development of a “comprehensive national family planning program,” acknowledging that of some of the religious fractions in the country will more than likely disagree with doing so. He also stated that more guidance counselors are needed in our schools, more truancy officers are needed in our streets and there is a need for more probation officers.
“We need to deal with preventative measures, rather than reactive ‘ambulance’ measures. We need to protect our children. We pay a lot now, or a lot more later,” Father Palacious asserted. In closing, Father Palacious stressed that their needs to be a paradigm shift in our way of thinking, before we, as a society, try to change the country at large.
Following the prayer breakfast, special guests and fathers toured classrooms and afterward, met back in the staffroom where they got to share their experiences and participate in a group prayer with all of the fathers.
Caption: Assistant Commissioner of Police, Leon Bethel, giving remarks at R.M. Bailey Senior High School’s Father’s Day Celebrations.