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Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh made a surprise visit to Presentation College, San Fernando, the scene of a violent student-on-student attack last Monday and encouraged the school population to hold hands as a sign of peace and pledge to love and respect one another.
Gopeesingh, who visited several schools in the South, including Naparima College and Princes Town East Secondary, the latter which has been closed for three days due to a mold problem, told the Presentation College boys to forget the memories of Monday’s stabbing incident, which left two of their colleagues injured, and move forward.
One student attacked the other with a geometry divider, stabbing him in the back and chest for putting a cockroach in his bag but then slit one of his wrists after the incident. The parents of the two boys have agreed not to press any criminal charges. Delivering a pep talk to the assembly in the school’s auditorium, Gopeesingh said he saw the incident as a “degree of dysfunctionality.”
The minister told the students: “You will continue to do well. Let’s see if we can block the past out to a certain extent. We will have memories of it, now move forward. “Move forward in a purposeful manner with dedication, zeal and enthusiasm to be the best. When you aspire to be the best, even though you fall short of it, you would have reached the stars.” In seeking to foster a better school spirit, he reminded students that their school had a rich legacy, producing two former prime ministers in Patrick Manning and Basdeo Panday.
He said they should be proud to be part of the school’s rich tradition and thanked them for their conduct over the years. Gopeesingh was even able to overcome the reluctance of students to hold hands in the sign of peace as he held hands with school principal Dexter Mitchell, school chaplain Msgr Christian Pereira and other officials. While doing so, he told the boys to recite the school’s pledge.