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Charlotte Brookson Academy Hosts Orientations for Teachers, Parents and Students

PHILIPSBURG - The Charlotte Brookson Academy of the Performance Arts held from August 7-11, 2017 an orientation week to plan for the new school year 2017-2018. It was organized by the management and staff and brought together the board, management, staff and teachers to think strategically about the smooth welcome back to school of returning and new students. 

In her opening remarks, president of the board, Ms. May-Ling Chun welcomed the teachers, students and parents’, noting that “The Charlotte Brookson Academy of the Performance Arts started its 6th year of providing education for gifted students interested in the arts and academics".

"I am so pleased to have been part of this progress and see the school grow from two first form classes to having all 6 forms this school year and welcoming close to 40 new first form students", she concluded.

This was followed by the Director, Mrs. Forsythe Labega who provided insights into the policies and procedures of the school. She reminded teachers about the importance of providing out of the box thinking to create that well needed conducive environment for the students to achieve academic and performance arts excellence.

Of particular interest was the integrated teaching methodology which has been researched and evidenced as a successful approach in education. The school will be implementing integrated teaching as a project across the different subjects taught at the school. 

The ice breaker was done by Mrs. Okama Ekpe Brook, the Innovation and Junior High Coordinator who challenged each teacher to introduce themselves in one minute highlighting their core essence and their passions. That style of introduction was a reminder of the creativity and innate talents of each teacher and that each of us possess skills which can be applied in the academic, arts and sports areas to help students learn better. That led to the team building session by Mr. Nelson Higgs with focus on communication & cooperation, dialogue, discipline & responsibility, power, courage and self-esteem, and bullying, cyber bullying, and drugs. 

Mr. Hiro Shigemoto led the teachers through a goal setting exercise where he explained that goals must be SMART and will be monitored through a mid-term review and an end of year evaluation.

Other topics covered included introduction to Sycamore, an electronic online student tracking tool, the School Development Plan, strategic planning and course outline development, introduction to the Parents Teachers Association as well as the requirements for examination certification. The teachers’ orientation ended with group work on integrated teaching, school supplies and classroom preparations.

The sessions started at 8:30am and ended at 3:00PM every day. Once the teachers completed sessions, it led straight into the students and parents’ orientation which commenced on Monday August 14th and still ongoing.

The Charlotte Brookson Academy of the Performance Arts is proud to have exceeded its enrolment expectations with 37 new students moving from 117 students in the 2016 school year to 154 students school year 2017-2018!

PHOTO: CBA CXC Students perform at the orientation.

cba orientation

PHOTO: CBA Director, Mrs. Forsythe Labega explains the student pledge with Form 3 students at the parents and student’s orientation.



Jesus Antonio Rivera wins monthly Medal Play Golf tournament

MULLET BAY - Jesus Antonio Rivera won overall Low Gross during the monthly Medal Play Golf Tournament organized by the St. Maarten Golf Association SMGA. Over the weekend, a total of 19 golfers battled in the hot weather at Mullet Bay, trying to take home the August Medal Play trophy.

With a 78 Gross score, Jesus Antonio Rivera was just one stroke better than Steven Mix who scored a 79 Low Gross. Jesus Antonio Rivera won both the Overall Low Gross as the 1st Low Gross prize in the Men’s category.  In the same category, a playoff needed to decide who would be the winner of the 1st Low Net, eventually Stanley Samuel won with a score of 74. Yannic Cazemajou won the prize for fewest putts during the round with a total of 29 putts over 18 holes.

Overall Low Net was won by Frank Jespersen with a score of 64. Jespersen participated in the Category Super Seniors for players over 60 years old in which category he hence won the 1st low net as well. 1st low gross in the category was won by Steven Mix with a score of 79.

Sam Bashir, who played in the Category Seniors for players between 50 and 60 years old, won his category with a score of 86 Low Gross. First Low Net went to Didier Bedu with a score of 75.

Gitte Poulsen won in the Ladies Category with a score of 97 Low Gross, Anne Marie Bouille won Low Net with a score of 84 strokes.

Players that join the monthly Medal Play matches can qualify for the St. Maarten Golf team that will compete against other islands in the Eastern Caribbean Golf Championship.

The SMGA is a non-profit organization that welcomes all beginning and experienced golfers, tourists and St. Maarten / St. Martin residents alike to become members and join them during tournaments and matches. For more information about the SMGA, please contact the Golf Shop at the Mullet Bay Golf Course or like us on Facebook:



​MP Wescot presented with reusable canvas bags proposal by Creative Hands

PHILIPSBURG - Simran Hotwani & Celine Mayeko-Coklee of Creative Hands recently met with President of Parliament, Sarah Wescot Williams, to share their proposal on eliminating the use of plastic bags through the use of individually-designed reusable canvas shopping bags.

The students learnt of the MP’s proposal to ban plastic bags and were elated to share their project that supports this initiative with the Chairlady of Parliament.

Creative Hands is a student-developed, non-profit organization that aims to encourage youths to artistically solve some of the island’s current issues, such as pollution.

MP Wescot has been working on a draft initiate law to amend the police ordinance to ban the use of plastic bags. In doing so, the MP has received the support of the Nature Foundation, a long-time advocate of this ban. The initiative is modeled after Aruba’s ban on plastic bags, which was also legislated in that island’s police ordinance. Following the MP’s disclosure on her efforts, she also received support from Aruba for this initiative and has been provided with the communication plan used by our sister island of Aruba.

“The ban on plastic bags, while long overdue needs to be carefully crafted and ‘marketed’, taking our own specificities into consideration. To make this work, we need the buy-in of the entire community, as it would be impossible to control every-one and every place.”

Creative hands shared their hopes to be part of the solution and being able to “create an environment where creativity and ecological awareness meet.” In their words: “change starts with our youth and our intent is to educate the children of St. Maarten on the importance of being aware of their environment and provide art therapy through the means of decorating recyclable grocery canvas bags and promoting recycling.”

MP Wescot: “This is the kind of partnerships we need to gradually bring about the change that will benefit not only us, but generations to come.”


EPIC to restore key areas of biodiversity

PHILIPSBURG - Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) Foundation has hit the ground running on a new project to restore keys areas of biodiversity on St. Maarten. With funding from the European Union’s (E.U.) BEST 2.0 program, EPIC aims to restore areas within three characteristically different sites located at: Rainforest Adventures in St. Peters, Seaside Nature Park in Cay Bay and Little Key in the Simpson Bay Lagoon.

Along with restoration, the project will also support education and outreach activities, including presentations and field trips to the restoration sites focused around the importance of biodiversity. EPIC’s Project Coordinator, Kippy Gilders, will oversee the project's activities.

Biodiversity can be defined as the variety of life that is found in a particular area. The European overseas regions and territories host over 70% of the E.U.’s biodiversity. Despite the importance of these areas, they are highly vulnerable to a number of threats such as pollution and development.

The three restoration sites represent ecologically important areas on St. Maarten that have become degraded by past human activities. Years of agriculture have stripped the sites at Rainforest Adventures and Seaside Nature Park of their original forest composition and this project aims to restore some of what was lost. Meanwhile, mangrove propagules will be planted at Little Key. Restored sites will offer valuable habitat for reptiles, fish, birds, insects and spiders.

The first task of the project has been to conduct baseline assessments of the plant structure at each site. The assessment was conducted by Dr. Ethan Freid, the Chief Botanist at the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve on Eleuthera, and will be used to decide which plants should be introduced at each site.

Mark Yokoyama of Les Fruits des Mer conducted the reptile, amphibian, and invertebrate assessment. This assessment describes those animals present on the sites before restoration. Then at the end of the project, the same assessments can be repeated to scientifically conclude that the sites have become more biodiverse as a result of the project.

As the project continues, EPIC will reach out to schools, community groups, government departments, and businesses to promote habitat restoration and conservation. The value of biodiversity will be revealed through presentations, activities, field trips, and volunteerism.

Citizen-scientists will help monitor plant growth and health. Planting of the tree saplings will occur in November of this year to be followed by a nature trail within the restoration area. With a clearly marked path and informational signs, this will be the first nature trail of its kind on St. Maarten!

This project, “Restoration of Key Biodiversity Areas of St. Maarten”, is supported by the BEST 2.0 Programme funded by the European Union. For more information or to become a volunteer, contact Kippy Gilders at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.+1 (721) 545-3009, or surf over to:


Hurricane season could be most active since 2010. Up to 19 Named Storms, Nine Hurricanes and Five Major Systems

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN – The seventh named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season developed on Sunday, Tropical Storm Gert, which is approximately 500 miles from Bermuda as of 5.00pm on Sunday afternoon.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) this week revised its hurricane forecast upward, where the Region will see a more active hurricane season of between 14-19 named storm; five to nine hurricanes; of which two to five could become major hurricanes with wind speeds above 111 miles per hour.

Forecasters are now predicting a higher likelihood of an above-normal season, and they increased the predicted number of named storms and major hurricanes. The season has the potential to be extremely active, and could be the most active since 2010.

In just the first nine weeks of this season there have been six named storms, which is half the number of storms during an average six-month season and double the number of storms that would typically form by early August. An average Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1-November 30, produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

The aforementioned revised forecast is based on a change in wind and air patterns and warmer than expected sea surface temperatures.

The updated outlook is based on the current and evolving atmospheric and oceanic conditions, the most recent model predictions, and pre-and early-season storm activity. The numbers announced today include the season activity to-date. The Atlantic basin has seen six named storms (Arlene in April; Bret and Cindy in June; Don and Emily in July; and Franklin in August). Two of these storms, Cindy and Emily, struck the United States. Cindy made landfall on June 22 at the Louisiana-Texas border and caused heavy rain, inland flooding and multiple tornado outbreaks. Emily made landfall on July 31 in Anna Maria Island, Florida. Franklin is predicted to make landfall in Mexico overnight as a hurricane.

Today’s update also decreases the chance of a near-normal season from 35 percent to 30 percent, and a below-normal season from 20 percent to only 10 percent from the initial outlook issued in May.

The Colorado State University hurricane season prediction unit by Klotzbach and Bell have also increased their projections in named storms, hurricane and major storms.



EU food & health commissioner calls meeting over contaminated eggs

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – As more and more countries are destroying fipronil contaminated eggs from the Netherlands, Euro commissioner for food safety Vytenis Andriukaitis wants a meeting of EU ministers and food safety watchdogs to discuss the problem, public broadcaster NOS reports.

Andriukaitis hoped the meeting could take place before the end of September. ‘We have to learn from what happened and move forward instead of wasting energy on unhelpful accusations’, NOS quotes him as saying.

Tensions have been running high between ministers and junior ministers in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany ever since the harmful delousing pesticide, thought to have sold by Dutch company Chickfriend, was found in the eggs.

Two of the company directors were arrested following raids on Thursday. Earlier this week, Belgian agriculture minister Denis Ducarme accused the Dutch government of negligence for failing to act on an anonymous tip Dutch food safety watchdog NVWA had received about the presence of fipronil as early as November last year.

Dutch Ministers

But junior economic affairs minister Martijn van Dam and health minister Edith Schippers said in a letter to parliament that the tip concerned the use of the chemical as a disinfectant and that there was no reason to assume the chemical could end up in the eggs.

Van Dam has since accused the Belgian minister of misinforming his government. But the ministers’ handling of the case has come in for criticism at home as well. Toxicologists find the government’s argument ‘disingenuous’. 

Earlier reports from the European Food safety Authority (EFSA), one of which dates back as far as 2006, state that fipronil is ‘averagely to highly persistent’ meaning that the substance remains present in the environment for months after spraying.

A report from 2014 even states explicitly that the substance may end up in eggs and chickens, the Volkskrant writes. ‘Chickens are constantly pecking at the ground so they ingest all sorts of substances in the environment,’ Ivonne Rietjens of Wageningen University told the paper.

Contaminated eggs have now been found in ten European countries, including Britain. On Thursday the Telegraph wrote that a total of 700,000 contaminated eggs may already have been consumed in the country.

‘Supermarkets Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose are all urgently withdrawing millions of fresh salads, sandwiches and fillers which contain the infected eggs,’ the Telegraph writes.

Experts emphasise that fipronil is only dangerous to health if consumed in large quantities. It is used to combat fleas in cats and dogs but is banned in animals which form part of the food chain. (DutchNews)


Solar Eclipse to take place on August 21

SINT MAARTEN - Never experienced a solar eclipse? Then it's your chance. On Monday, August 21, between two and six o'clock in the afternoon the sun will disappear for a large part behind the moon.

The partial solar eclipse is greatest at ten to four. At that time, 63% of the sun will be covered. If you want to see a total solar eclipse, you will need to find a spot between Oregon and South Carolina in the United States.

Meteorological Departments have warned not to look at the partial eclipse without special glasses.


Two men arrested in egg scandal following raids in Belgium and NL

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Two men were arrested following raids on several homes in the Netherlands and Belgium on Thursday morning in connection with the fipronil egg contamination scandal, public broadcaster NOS reports.

The men are directors of Chickfriend, the Dutch company that allegedly used a fipronil-contaminated delousing agent at poultry farms. The two are suspected of endangering public health.

Apart from the men’s homes, a storage facility in Bergen op Zoom was searched while another two locations were searched at the request of the Belgian food and health authorities.

Officials also seized cars, bank deposits and real estate, because, according to the NVWA-IOD’s press release ‘crime cannot be allowed to pay.’


In Belgium 11 addresses were searched, including companies which had allegedly used fipronil. The raids, which included the home of a vet, are said to have produced ‘incriminating evidence,’ NOS writes.

The egg scandal started in Belgium which is the source of the fipronil found in Dutch eggs. It is thought to have come from Belgian firm Poultry-Vision which sold a product containing the chemical to Chickfriend in Barneveld to combat lice in chickens.

Fipronil is alllowed to be used in cats and dogs but not in animals which form part of the food chain, NOS writes. (DutchNews)


BOPP student interns host DCOMM TV Special “Inside Government”

PHILIPSBURG - At the Department of Communication, Business Outreach and Placement Program (BOPP) student interns Julianne Robert (16) and Omari Philips (18) took part in hosting a TV Program that will play on Cable TV for the next 3 weeks.

Julianne, of the Charlotte Brookson Academy, and Omari, of the St. Maarten Academy—PSVE division, were trained in several areas at the DCOMM, from administrative tasks to video production to media communication.

The student interns worked along with DCOMM staff members to contribute their part of a information program, called “Inside Government.”

The two students interviewed the Prime Minister William Marlin, Minister Silveria Jacobs, the BOPP coordinator Faye Arnell, and a couple of BOPP student’s interns.

Julianne and Omari said that interning at DCOMM was a learning experience and productive. “I enjoyed working at DCOMM. I learned a lot, and it was a lot of fun,” Omari said. Julianne echoed those same sentiments in her period spent at DCOMM, working in office management, TV production, and media arts.

The BOPP students’ interviews can be seen on DCOMM TV Program, “Inside Government,” on St. Maarten Cable TV, Channel 115 at 7pm. The first program airs on August 11, and it will highlight the BOPP program. There will be other programs hosted by these student interns on August 18th and August 25th.

Julianne and Omari are part of the 50 plus students who took part in the BOPP program, which is coordinated by the Department Social Cultural (SC) Development and are dedicated to placing exam and pre-exam students of the secondary schools as well as students of the tertiary educational level in a four weeks summer job during the months of July and August.

The SC Department said that the BOPP enables highly-motivated students to gain invaluable work experience in government departments or local businesses during the summer vacation.


Belgium says Dutch food body was tipped about egg contamination last year

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands was aware that Dutch eggs were contaminated with the banned pesticide fipronil in November 2016, Belgium’s agriculture minister Denis Ducarme has told an emergency meeting of officials in Brussels.

In addition, the Netherlands waited far too long to share the information with others, Ducarme is quoted as saying by broadcaster NOS. The claim is based on a report by Belgium’s food safety body FAVV referring to two memos from the Dutch NVWA.

The memos say ‘the first tip’ about the use of fipronil to kill lice in layer hens had reached the NVWA in November 2016.

The claim comes as Belgium came under fire for not warning the EU authorities that there could be fipronil in eggs when it became aware of the problem on June 2, 2017.

However, it took until July 20 for the Belgian authorities to post a message on the EU’s early warning system, the Volkskrant reported on Wednesday.

Criminal investigation

While officials dispute who knew what and when, criminal probes have been started into the scandal in both the Netherlands and Belgium, news agency ANP said.

Dutch company ChickFriend, which used the pesticide-contaminated delouse agent and Belgian firm Poultry-Vision, thought to be the source of the fipronil, are both under investigation.

Meanwhile, traces of the banned pesticide have been found in biscuits and chicken meat, according to research lab TLR.

The NVWA said on Tuesday it also planned to begin testing meat. However, toxicologists say the quantities are so tiny as to pose no threat to human health and supermarkets have no plans for a product recall. (DutchNews)

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