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School closes after 30 years: 250 students displaced

Published: 
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Pupils of Atwell's Educational Institute play in their playground on the school's compound in Orange Grove,Tacarigua yesterday

The impending closure of Atwell’s Educational Institute in Tacarigua is being described as a “death in the family.”

This was the phrase used yesterday by a parent of a child who currently attends the school.

The parent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said she became disheartened on hearing the news. About 250 students will be displaced upon the school’s closure. Some of the students are to vacate by July and others next year.

She said that the news came as a shock and was upset about the manner in which she and other parents were informed by the school’s principal, Helen Atwell-Koo.

“It is utterly disrespectful for the principal not even to talk to us (parents). Most of us here do not even know what she looks like, much less her name and the only way we got to know her name was through a letter that was sent to us informing us that the school is going to close down next year,” another parent said.

Another parent, identified as Rodney Metivier, of Arima, said he was angry at the school’s closure.

“For me it is one of the best private schools in the East. No only that, it is even priced reasonably compared to other private schools. It is close to home, no traffic to come here to drop my daughter off,” Metivier said.

He along with other parents have no other choice but to find another private school to send their children.

“I, myself, came from a private school background and for me it is the best way. The teachers focus on the kids more.”

A letter dated January 27, signed by the school’s vice principal, only identified as Ms A Koo, stated that Helen Atwell-Koo will be retiring as principal and added that a decision had been taken by the administration to cease operations at the school by 2018.

Koo stated that only the present Prep 4 and Prep 5 classes will be with the school until its closure and students from Stage 1 to Prep 3 will not be allowed to continue their educational experience at Atwell’s after July.

As part of its commitment, Koo informed the parents that they would be willing to offer guidance and assistance to help students presently in the Prep 3 class (2016-2017) find placement in other similar private institutions.

Subsequent to parents receiving the letter, some of them decided to start an online petition to let the administration know how they feel about the decision. The school’s principal declined to make any comment to the T&T Guardian yesterday. She sent a message with the school’s security officer saying that she was not allowed to speak to the media.

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