By RON FANFAIR
The Africentric Alternative School’s enrolment will almost double from 85 at the start of its launch last September to 160 when the new school year begins in the next two months.
Principal Thando Hyman-Aman made the announcement at the school’s sold-out fundraising dinner and awards last Friday night at the Jamaica Canadian Association centre. Close to 600 guests attended the event.
“To be honest, I did not expect this when the gala committee was putting together this event,” admitted Hyman-Aman. “What the huge turnout says to us is that there is enormous support for the school and genuine community interest in ensuring the school is successful.”
The funds accrued from the event will be used to enhance the school’s programs.
Thando-Hyman said the school has transformed a model of Africentric education from a concept into reality in a public school system.
‘We owe our students, teachers, parents, volunteers and the community much gratitude for, without you, there would be no us and a school of this nature both inspired and conceived by the community will always be umbilically attached to the extended familial connection and support of the community,” the principal said.
She said the focus in the next school year will be on the continued development of students and the school community.
“Through academic achievement, increased resources and support for culturally relevant programs and programming and a commitment to mentorship and guidance, we will collectively ensure social excellence for our students,” Thando-Hyman added. “We continue to aspire, motivate and encourage greatness in all students, knowing that one day, they will grow up to be the future leaders and productive citizens of our society.”
Toronto District School Board (TDSB) trustee James Pasternak, one of the school’s strongest supporters, said the first school year has been quite successful.
“Today, we mark not so much the completion of the first year, but the affirmation of an ideal that our great responsibility as educators is to ensure that students who enter our system must leave with the knowledge that there are no closed doors, that there are no glass ceilings and that they have the skills and character to set a course and define their own future,” he said.
Pasternak is running for Toronto city council in next October’s municipal elections. He’s contesting the York Centre seat held by former deputy mayor, Mike Feldman.
“I can assure you that the Black community will always have a voice at City Hall and in Ward 10 if I am elected,” he promised.
TDSB Executive Officer of Student and Community Equity Lloyd McKell reminded the Africentric school teachers and students they are part of a historic initiative in Canada’s educational system.
“You are part of creating a dream that puts us in Toronto’s African-Canadian community at a place where we can achieve the greatest we are capable of,” he said.
Grade Five student Duprih Roberts was awarded the Highest Academic Achievement award while Manani Jones, who is in Grade Four, was presented with the Most Improved Student award.
“I enjoyed the year because I learned about African history and I made a lot of new friends,” said the nine-year-old student.
Awards were also presented to the teachers, volunteers and Angela Wilson and Donna Harrow who fought long and hard for the school to become a reality.