As many of you know, Belize Friends School grants a high school scholarship each year. We pay the annual student fees, about $800 Bz, for our scholarship winner to attend the high school of her (last year the winner was a girl) choice. The scholarship is renewable for four years.
In theory we could have 4 students attending high school on scholarship at any one time, a freshman, as sophomore, a junior, and a senior or, as we say in Belize, Form 1, Form 2, Form 3, and Form 4. All the students need to do to renew the scholarship is to bring a copy of their report card to us at the end of each trimester. We put it in their file, talk a little with them about how it is going at school and at home, and forward the next trimester fees to the school.
Brandy, our scholarship winner last spring, brought us this report card.
I looked at the card in exactly the same way you just looked at it, like a parent. I noticed right away the same things you just did. Brandy is doing pretty well in everything but those classes we traditionally call English: language, literature, and reading. So I asked Ms. Candi about it. She said that Brandy can read out loud just fine, but has trouble with comprehension.
I also know, from the short time I have been here, that English is actually a second language for our Creole students. Last weekend when our student Brandon came to help work on the sign at school I was the only one working when he arrived. His first comment was, “You on wan?”, meaning, “Are you the only one here?” For these students to write formal English is a struggle. (I had a visit with a man who taught English at St. Johns for years. He laughed when he told me that he finally went into the deans office and offered to take 40 lashes before he graded another Belizean boy’s English paper.)
The other bit of information Ms.Candi shared, after her conversation with Brandy, was that the same teacher teaches all three English classes and the “word on the street” is that no one in the class is getting good grades. To be honest, I take that information with a grain of salt–I was a teacher for a long time. But it could be so.
Once I got done looking at the grades, I looked at the bottom of the page. Hmmm. A check mark in “Has not met passing requirements.” Demerit: 1. Term average: 77. Class rank: 8. What does all that mean? How can a person have a 77 average and not meet passing requirements? What was the demerit for? And 8th out of how many?
It turns out that passing requirements are decided on core subjects only, the A in Phys Ed and the B in Spanish do not get to help. The demerit was received because Brandy had not yet had the money to purchase one of the required textbooks. She has it now.
But the interesting statistic was that she is 8th–out of 35. She’s doing ok. She is continuing to work hard. Her English will improve. We are proud of our girl and continue to wish her the very best.
One final note: there in not a snowball’s chance in Belize City that Brandi could have afforded to go to high school without your help. So I say to all of you who support the scholarship program, “Thank you-Thank you.”