As part of efforts to improve the lives of students at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College, a new multi-purpose court was built on the “slab” that has long stood on the college’s front lawn.
“The college is in the first year of a new strategic plan, and one of the things we’re taking seriously is the student experience,” HLSCC President Dr. Richard Georges said during an unveiling ceremony last Thursday afternoon. “It is one thing, yes, to be focused on what students do in the classroom, … but the student is a multiversal being.”
As elected leaders and other college officials looked on, Dr. Georges reminisced on what he called the “slab,” where many graduation ceremonies, including his own, were held throughout the years.
“I was a student here a long time ago, and then I was staff and faculty for a long time prior to taking this post, and I never liked this slab, you know,” he said. “I never liked having the tent taking up this beautiful green space that we have here, and we have a top-notch groundskeeping team now to do it justice.”
The afternoon’s programme began with an opening statement by Virgin Islands Studies Institute Director Bernadine Louis followed by the territorial song and an invocation.
Director of Student Life Debra Hodge then shared a brief history of the multi-purpose court, which she said the college had wanted for several years.
“We were asking for a huge discount because we knew we didn’t have the necessary money for the first quote,” she said. “Then Dr. Georges informed us that we just received a $30,000 donation from Unite BVI.”
After negotiations with FlexCourt, the Illinois-based company that supplied the equipment, the college was able to erect the facility for under $30,000, Ms. Hodge said, though she didn’t provide the exact figure.
Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley said the “slab” was home to a lot of “great memories.”
“I think this [court] is furthering the vision and dream that established this institution,” he added. “[The dream is] that we can have a tertiary education that can help students not only meet their academic ambitions but [also become] that well-rounded individual that we believe in here at the college.”
Education, Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Sharie de Castro also shared her experiences as a student at the college, remembering the days she played dominoes in the student lounge.
“I’m happy that we’ve expanded and we’re able to offer outdoor experiences on this multi-purpose sporting court that speaks to the growth and development and the overall wholistic plan that the college has begun to institute,” she said. “I’ve had sight of the strategic plan and this overall architectural and infrastructural plan, and believe me, it’s safe for me to say that you haven’t seen anything yet.”
Her speech was followed by demonstrations by the HLSCC Stingray Dancers and the basketball team. All bookings for the court will made through the Office of Student Life at the college, and a schedule of events and bookings will be posted online, officials said.
There will be a fee to use the court, and everyone is expected to take care of it “as if it was their own,” Ms. Louis said.