July 12 marked the 50th anniversary of the first official graduation at the BVI High School, as noted by community members on social media this week. Photos of the 1972 graduation book began circulating, which included a note from then-Social Services Minister Ralph O’Neal commending the first class for their pioneering work. He encouraged the graduates to “act well your part, and this can only be to the benefit of succeeding generations.” The Beaconite loves when bits of VI history are preserved and shared, and she looks forward to even more moments being highlighted soon during the upcoming Heritage Month celebrations. She hopes everyone enjoyed the graduation season and wishes this generation’s students well as they pioneer their own way forward.
Beyond the Reef organised its annual beach clean-up at Cooper Island over the weekend, and a Beaconite had the opportunity to join the effort. In between taking photos and doing interviews, she lent a hand filling garbage bags full of trash and carrying the load out to the dinghy. There was one point when she looked down the beach to see the countless bits of plastic dotting the rocky shoreline and wondered how the relatively small team’s effort could possibly make a dent. But after spending hours under the sun, picking through the sargassum and occasionally getting cooled by the ocean spray, she looked up to see what a difference they had made. The colourful confetti of trash was nearly gone, leaving just the natural beauty of the beach. There’s only so much that can be done in a single day, but it was heartening to see at least that section cleared when it seemed impossible. The passion of those volunteers, who gave up time on their weekends and resources to haul out the waste, give the reporter hope that it isn’t too late for the territory to make meaningful changes to preserve the health of its ecosystems.
Last week, the Beacon reported on a business that lost an appeal and was ordered to pay ex-employees more than $96,000. A Beaconite has a lot of sympathy for both parties in the case. The court found that the employees were owed severance according to the Labour Code. Since they received no offer of help through the Labour Tribunal, they had a right to file suit and try to collect what they were owed. This is something that employees rarely do in the Virgin Islands, even though they have a right to, and the Beaconite would like to see it happen more often in future cases. On the other hand, the company also suffered, given that its facilities were decimated in the 2017 hurricanes and closed for months. The law offers no comprehensive provisions protecting employers in such situations. The Beaconite thinks the Labour Code deserves another look with such considerations in mind.
A Beaconite is pleased to finally see the end of the Covid-19 testing requirement to enter the territory. She commends the government for taking a very cautious approach to the pandemic throughout the years (good heavens: yes, years). While the territory transitions, she wonders where the government is with its pandemic response plan and if leaders will announce any kind of post-pandemic plan that addresses the damage caused to the overall health of the community. While the government forges ahead with projects, the Beaconite urges leaders to also address serious economic issues — including increased electricity and gas bills — plaguing a community trying to recover from the pandemic. She also thinks they should publicly state the steps they are taking to boost the territory’s medical capacity, including its plans to build medical schools to bring in more students and professionals.