~ MPC hosts Curaçao contingent ~

 

The students of Milton Peters College (MPC) and Radulphus College have this week taken part in the third annual student exchange program. Some 20 students along with three teachers of Milton Peters College travelled to Curaçao in January to participate in educational and social activities with 20 students and three teachers of Radulphus College.

 

Those same Radulphus College students and teachers are currently on the island doing the same. Their week started off with the students following classes at Milton Peters College. They also enjoyed steel pan classes, zumba, crossfit, beach swimming, a tour of the St. Maarten port, an island tour, a scavenger hunt in Philipsburg and lots of delicious local food.

 

The student exchange is a team building project that allows students to enhance their self-confidence and self-esteem while exposing them to a different culture and helping them gain experience in controlled independence, all while improving their social skills. The students also integrate into another family and establish life-long friendships as families of MPC students have hosted the travellers at their homes. The Curaçao contingent is set to depart for their home island today.

 

A couple of MPC students share their thoughts about the experience.

 

Xavier Doelmoengin (15)

The first day of the student exchange was really awkward. I didn't know what to say, how to act or what to do. My partner and I stayed on our phones the entire time. But as the days went by, we went from being strangers to close friends. This exchange program taught me a lot of things, like how to communicate better, and I even picked up on some Papiamentu. I learnt short sentences like “Bota papia hopi” and “lagi hari.” Since I’m an only child, having someone else in the house is very great. It’s like having a brother. The student exchange program has been a great experience no doubt.

 

Kimaeyu Mussington (15)

Traveling is always fun, but traveling with a specific purpose is always better. This cultural exchange with Curaçao has been an amazing experience for me, although I'm not the most social person. It taught me many different things such as opening up to new ideas. The goal of this trip was to be able to adapt and adjust to a different culture, and I think we can say that we definitely achieved this!

‘We are a force to be reckoned with’

Sundial School is celebrating its 50th year moulding some of St. Maarten’s brightest minds. But even as the institution is counting its blessings, it remains cognisant that much more needs to be done to enhance the level of education it offers to keep up to date with developing demands in the job market and society as a whole.

As the institution looks towards its future, it wants to not just continue on its path of shaping the future generations of St. Maarten, it also hopes to possibly relocate to a more appropriate venue, as the current facility is bursting at its seams, and examine the possibilities of adding more sectors that it believes are needed in the community.

Principal Mireille Regales said the school is “doing great” in the Hospitality, Care and Wellness sectors: “We believe this is not enough. Having another sector, (such as) Information Communications Technology (ICT) Repair, Home Nursing or Light Fixture Design, will give our students the opportunity to find jobs before and after their tertiary education. Most of our students remain on island to continue their tertiary education, so it is imperative that we keep up with what this island may need now and for the future.”

Sundial School’s history dates back to 1966, when the reverend Sister Borgia established a school (current Sr. Magda location) to cater to girls who had completed primary education and had no other options available to them. The intention was to teach the female students basic skills and trades such as sewing and cooking. The school did not have an official name when it was first established. It was sometimes referred to as “Huishoudschool” (Home Economics school) until years later when it was relocated and christened Sundial School.

While male students in those days could have pursued their secondary education in Curacao if their parents could afford it, there were no opportunities for female students. The year 1986 was the first time male students were admitted to the school. In 1968, the school moved into an empty space in an old printery belonging to the late Jose Lake Sr., also in Cul de Sac. In the early days, the school was staffed by the late Jan Slippens, Juffrouw Jane, Sister Marie Laurence, Sister Elfrida, Sister Damiana and Angela Drijvers-van Heyningen, who later became the school principal.

The school encountered numerous teething challenges. There were no stoves or pots and as a result, cooking classes were not possible. As time passed by, the institution acquired some appliances; however, another major issue was access to water. While a small water reservoir was located in an agricultural compound nearby, where St. Maarten Academy now stands, it was empty most of the time. Students therefore had to form a chain from the school to a nearby house close to the entrance of St. Peters to fill their water buckets, passing them on to each other to get water for the school.

For practical housekeeping classes, students were bussed to the then Little Bay Beach Hotel, where they received training. Sewing classes were given by Elfrida and later Drivers-van Heyningen (from 1995). Although the school did not have gym facilities, gym classes were administered on a field, where Prins Willem Alexander School now stands.

When a new location for the school was being constructed on Walter Nisbeth Road, a contest was held amongst students to come up with a name for the school. While none of the entries were found to be suitable enough, Elsje Bosch-Wilson and Juffrouw Jane came up with the name Sundial. The name was found to be appropriate because a sundial, a shell of tremendous beauty, points to the sun, which is the source of life on earth. The school saw its students as being a source of life.

The current Sundial School location was officially opened on November 11, 1973. Several persons have held the position of principal over the years including Marcella Hazel (from 1981); Drijvers-van Heyningen (1995) and current principal Mireille Regales.

Interesting to note is that the school had been a catholic school until 1976, when Pastoor Nieuwen Huis MAVO and John Phillips MAVO were merged. Over the years, the school went through several changes to its educational structure, until 2001 when VSBO was introduced and still remains an educational choice today. The changes over the years were accompanied by additions and changes to the school’s academic offerings, which were later expanded to include hotel/restaurant, fashion/apparel, commercial, needlecraft, office procedures and bookkeeping courses.

In April 1991, the school’s restaurant opened to the public as “Les Eleves Restaurant,” which was later changed to “The Source Restaurant.” On February 14, 1992, “Les Eleves Fashion Center” was officially opened at the entrance of the school. School uniforms were produced at the Center, which was financed by Cede Antiyas. This Center no longer exists. On August 1, 1993 a basic healthcare course began.

After overcoming many challenges over the past five decades, Sundial School is a fairly well-equipped institution today. It has a care team unit, language labs and modern practical rooms. It focuses primarily on two sectors: Care and Wellness and Hospitality. After completing Form 2, students can choose to do a Technical or Administrative Sector, which is administered at sister school Milton Peters College (MPC), which is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary. A digital student tracking system is also in place which allows students and parents to monitor the educational progress of their children. This also requires that parents and students have an email address in order to get updates.

“We are currently upgrading the technology and the manner in which we teach at the school. Active learning is our main focus. All the classrooms are equipped with beamers, digital boards, smart TVs, etc., whatever it takes to reach out and enhance the learning pathway and experience of our vocational students. We have come to the realisation that this is the way to go in order to create holistic students and in turn, make learning fun and enjoyable,” Regales said. “The generation we are dealing with is more technologically savvy and we need to get into their world in order to teach them the educational goals they need. As a school, we have learnt not to shy away from technology but to rather embrace it and incorporate it in such a manner that students learn the basics and more.”

Sundial and MPC fall under the supervision of the school board for secondary education SVOBE (in Dutch: Stichting tot de Bevordering van Voortgezet Onderwijs Bovenwindse Eilanden).

Regales told WEEKEnder that one of the major challenges Sundial experienced over the years was combating the stigma society had placed on the school because it catered to vocational education students, who have more affinity with practical lessons versus theoretical lessons. She said also that changing and applying the various educational systems government had introduced over the years; adapting and finding solutions to deal with the increasing gap between Foundation Based Education (FBE) at the primary school level and basic secondary education at the high school level as well as dealing with an increase in the behavioural and learning challenges amongst students and trying to maintain “a peaceful and safe environment” in the school were also challenging.

“There is also a great need for a new building. Our present facility is outdated and is not entirely functional for learning (optimally). Taking into account the size of the classrooms with the needs of the modern required VSBO educational system, I can safely say we have outgrown the building we are currently in. It has been challenging to do the basic necessary upgrades in technology because of the way the school was electrically wired so many years ago,” Regales explained. “We want to move more towards creative learning by way of technology, but it has to be done in phases because the school was not primarily built to hold that amount of electrical load. So we are at a crossroad where we either move the school to a new location, or we undergo major renovations.”

Asked what she sees as the biggest impacts of the school over the past 50 years, Regales said: “We are seeing the fruits of our labour each time we go to many places on the island. We see our students at the airport, government offices, the hospital, restaurants, we see them all over. So we are blessed to have inspired so many students over the past 50 years and we look forward to continue inspiring more.”

She said also that the 50th anniversary is significant for the school. “Our 50th anniversary means we have come a long way and we are really happy for the many blessings.” She said the school is what it is today due to the support received from the business community, government, parents, students and its school board. “In a nutshell, this says that as a school, we are a force to be reckoned with within this community and the world.”

Asked how vocational education can be improved in St. Maarten, she said, “We need to remove the stigma associated with vocational education. We as a people understand that this economy is not predominantly run by doctors and lawyers, but by the people who do the groundwork. The doctor cannot run his practice optimally without a nurse. The contractor of a building will not find work if he does not have masons. The factory cannot mass produce if it has no workers. We tend to look down at these jobs and forget how important these persons are to our society. We always tell our students that whatever vocation they choose to do, they should make sure that they are the best at it because society and communities will fall if they, the vocational worker, did not exist. Basically, we need to re-educate the masses on what vocational educational is really about.”

Regales said the institution is dealing with the gradual disappearance of respect, manners, values and norms.

Sundial School and MPC have many plans to mark their anniversaries. Plans include a gala fundraising dinner today Saturday, March 25, at The Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach Resort and Spa. The dinner is in aid of promoting technology in classrooms. Entrance is US $100.

On May 26, a Talent Show and Art Exhibition by current and former students and staff will be held under the tent at Princess Port de Plaisance and Casino. Entrance is $10.

From July 27 to 30, a school reunion (1966 to 2015) will be held at Sundial School.

On August 10, an Educational Symposium will be held with guest speaker Alan November.

Regales said the institution is “just trying to reach out to thank everyone who has made the school thrive over the years… this will also be a period in which we can reflect and re-evaluate our mission and vision for the school. We are about offering quality education and with our partners in education (meaning everyone involved), we will make this work.”

Sundial’s current population stands at 296 students: 121 males and 175 females.

St. Maarten, check me out!

Full name: Otmar Fransisco DeLeon Martina Jr.

St. Maarten nickname: “Oti”, “Otje” or “Bubba”.

Age: 18

City and country of residence today: Weesp, The Netherlands.

What St. Maarten district are you from?

I was raised in Philipsburg, also known as “Town” or “Downstreet”.

Where on St. Maarten did you go to school?

I attended Oranje Elementary School and then Milton Peters College.

How would you describe yourself in five words?

Confident, Creative, Determined, Independent & Talented.

What are your favourite St. Maarten memories?

My top three favourite St. Maarten memories are: 1) Being a part of the first 12 students selected to travel to New York with Art Saves Lives Foundation; 2) Being the choreographer of “Otmar’s Angels” who went on to win every competition it entered; 3) My first ever J’ouvert Morning Jump Up that I got to go to with only my friends.

How long have you been gone from the island?

I’ve been living in The Netherlands for a year and a couple of months now; but I was last in St. Maarten in April-June 2016.

Tell us about living abroad.

Being a person who is not scared of change, I enjoy it very much. I love learning about new cultures and being able to adapt to a new way of living. Living in Europe, especially in The Netherlands, is so amazing because the country’s way of living is so free, fun and interesting.

Tell us about your short- and long-term aspirations.

Since I am currently studying “Artist Dance” at ROC Amsterdam, I want to slowly start to create a place for myself in the dance world in the next three years – build connections, network and enhance my all-round dance skills so that when I’m done with studying and I dive into the real dance world, I don’t drown. One of my long-term aspirations is to open a successful performance arts centre on St. Maarten to give St. Maarten youth a chance to find themselves within the arts and feel respected for choosing a more artistic route, especially because it isn’t highly respected on the island. Another long-term aspiration of mine is to become a successful professional dancer/choreographer and creative director. I also would like to open a talent agency.

Tell us about three experiences abroad that made a lasting impression.

Being able to be a part of DNCE’s performance at the MTV EMA’s in Rotterdam was a moment that made me realize that I really wanted to be a part of the entertainment industry mainly because of what goes on behind the scenes. Being recognized, respected and accepted for my artistic choice on a larger scale also made me realize that dance was something I want to do.

What are three of the most important lessons you have learned?

Always be confident but not cocky – I learned this from seeing how some of my idols coped with success and fame; always be humble – I learned this from my mother and it became a quote I live by; there is never a limit.

Where do you see your life in 10 years?

If I stick to the mindset that I have now, I see myself as a successful professional dancer/choreographer or creative director of a successful company/brand or for a successful artist. Seeing that I want to be in the entertainment/fashion industry, returning to St. Maarten isn’t the best idea; but I wouldn’t mind returning after achieving most of my goals and I have a stable life and can then start to fully achieve my higher goals.

What would you say to people who are nervous about the idea of leaving St. Maarten?

Take the risk. You have so many more opportunities and chances. Many people I know didn’t like the fact that they left, but that’s because they always focus on the negative stuff about living abroad. But I find living abroad to be quite an amazing adventure.

What do you do when you are not studying or working?

When I’m not busy with school, I’m dancing around everywhere I go, watching movies/series or just catching up with social media and family. On the weekends or vacations, I like to hang out with friends, take dance classes, go shopping and explore. I also love taking pictures so exploring also helps me find new places to take new pictures.

In a movie about the story of your life, who should portray you?

Jaden Smith – just because I look up to him and I see so much of myself in him. We also have the same perspective and view on life. His fashion sense is also amazing!

Any advice for young people hoping to follow in your footsteps?

I live by the quote “Take a risk.” You never know your outcome and what might happen. Don’t leave the island with a broken-down energy and mind, just be open-minded and take in all the experiences.

Want to nominate someone for the Check-Me-Out? Send their name and contact info along with why they should be featured to lisa@thedailyherald.com

Sun rises at 6:11am

Sun sets at 6:24pm

Moon phase: 4th quarter, crescent waning

Moon rises at 4:26am

Moon sets at 3:15pm

 

Westward Ho!

The westward shift of the sky throughout each night is due to Earth's rotation on its axis. Meanwhile, the westward shift of the stars throughout the year is due to Earth's motion as it orbits around the sun. The Earth's orbital motion causes our night sky to offer an ever-shifting panorama.

 

You’ll notice the “westering” of familiar constellations such as Orion. The hunter and his associated Winter Circle used to be overhead around 8:00pm in February, now the hunter constellation’s recognizable three-star belt is handing quite west at that time. All the stars follow this pattern, not so the planets which wander their own paths through the stars.

 

Bye-bye Venus, Hello Mercury

We have been able to admire the glorious planet Venus, the evening star, for months now. Each night after sunset, her bright light has been an eye-catching bling in the western sky. But Venus trades her time in the evening with duty as the morning star. And right now is her time to switch places. To do this, she passes through the glare of the sun. In a week’s time, Venus will precede the sun in the eastern sky, which is to say she will become “the morning star.” This switcheroo takes place every 584 days, and astronomers call it the inferior conjunction, a rather boring sounding term, so we at Weekender will stick with switcheroo.

 

Meanwhile Mercury is now entering the evening sky, and in fact it is about to stage its best performance of 2017. To observe Mercury, you must find an unobstructed western horizon and then seek the sunset point on the horizon some 30 to 45 minutes after the sun goes down. Day by day, Mercury will climb upward from the setting sun each night and by the end of March, Mercury will be at its best, most sight-able, position.

 

Mercury is gaining brightness and is nearly as brilliant as Sirius, the brightest true star of the night-time sky. It’s fun to see this bright world. Mercury is about 12 times brighter than the red planet Mars, which is also in the evening sky and – despite being fainter – is a much more reliable object to spot on these March evenings. That’s because Mars stays out until well after nightfall, giving it a dark background from which to stand out.

 

Two other planets are also in view in the March 2017 night sky. At early- to mid-evening, look eastward to see Jupiter. The ringed planet of Saturn rises from the east southeast after 1:00am and can be located close to a bright red star Antares in the constellation Scorpius.

 

Watch for the waxing crescent moon to meet up with Mars on March 30 and the Pleiades star cluster on March 31. The new moon means no moonlight, so enjoy those dark skies this weekend, great for stargazing!

 

Thank you for keeping up with the Night Sky articles. If you are out later on in the week, each star rises about four minutes earlier each day than written here, and the moon rises 50 minutes later. Night Sky is researched and compiled by Lisa Davis-Burnett. Earthsky.org is a key resource for information and images. Questions or comments? Email lisa@thedailyherald.com

Last Wednesday the open market committee of the FED raised the benchmark lending rate with 0.25% as widely expected. Still markets were disappointed as it was generally expected that the central bank would indicate an accelerated pace of rate hikes. Instead, just two more increases this year were projected. Those who expected a faster pace of rate hikes were either over-weighted USD’s or underweighted bonds. After the announcements traders unwound positions. The USD weakened and bonds rallied. The chart below illustrates how the 10-year and 2- year government bond yield declined following the rate announcements.

The EURO rallied against the DOLLAR from 1.06- area to 1.0740, as obviously declining US-yields caused interest rate differentials to narrow in favor of the EURO.

Source: Bloomberg

It is also interesting to see that just hours after the Fed’s decision, the Bank of Japan announced its policy: leaving interest rates unchanged at -0.1% for the short term and keep the 10 year stable at 0%. The central bank will further continue to grow the monetary base until inflation stabilizes around 2%. The BoJ added that additional stimulus, which currently includes bond purchases of USD 706 billion per year, including a possible rate cut of the short term or long term rate will be considered if necessary.

The same day China’s central bank (PBOC) raised some of the borrowing costs as economic growth is stable thereby halting further depreciation of its currency.

The Swiss National Bank finally kept its deposit rate at an historic low of -0.75%, while the target for the 3-month rate was unchanged at -1.25% to -0.25%. The SNB indicated that the CHF is “overvalued” and interventions on the FX-market will be considered. The negative interest rate makes Swiss investments less attractive and limits the currency appreciation.

There is an obvious divergence in monetary policy where the FED is tightening; the PBOC cautiously follows the FED while the BoJ, the SNB and also the ECB continue their monetary easing.


Courtesy RBC Royal Bank, Sales & Trading

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