SABA (THE BOTTOM) - The House of Esports to promote safe gaming, a B&B to train in hospitality, the Hell’s Gate Community Center to foster artistic talent and host cultural events for the youth, simulators in technical vocational education, a variety of after school clubs to stimulate leadership and collaboration skills, the Saba Comprehensive School (SCS) keeps investing in the development of its students.
A few months ago, SCS opened its House of Esports and Bed & Breakfast at Becky’s House in St. John’s. Named after its first owner, Rebecca Hassell, and the parental home of Franklin Wilson, the house was split up in two: in the front part Becky’s House of Esports is located and in the back, guests can rent a small stay-over accommodation.
“A B&B without the breakfast part,” said SCS Principal Anton Hermans as he gives a tour to visiting representatives of the Council of Education Labor Market Caribbean Netherlands (ROA CN). The accommodation is a simulated hotel room with a bedroom, living room and bathroom where hospitality students can train.
The B&B accommodation is only incidentally rented out to guests as not to compete with the local hotels, with the sole intention to be a training area for the students. Before, the hospitality accommodation training area was located at the school, but because of the lack of space there, it was decided to move this facility to Becky’s House. Guests staying at the B&B are encouraged to visit the House of Esports next door to partake in the gaming with students.
At the House of Esports, SCS students of Form 1 to 3, students enrolled in the Special Inclusive Education, and children of Grade 6 via Child Focus learn to get better at gaming in a responsible, safe and fun way. “Gaming is not going away, so we want to teach our students how to game responsibly. And, that they need to work on other things as well: sports, education, welfare and health. There has to be a balance,” said Hermans, who added that it was not only about gaming, but that the social aspect was also important.
The House of Esports is a place where everyone should feel safe. That is why the house rules and the code of conduct are always discussed when the students arrive by House Coordinator Valeria Perez Cordero. These include basic norms and values: respect everyone, don’t exclude each other and bring out the best in each other, learn from everyone, say hello on arrival and goodbye at departure, and taking good care of the materials. The House of Esports involves an entire curriculum.
Playing together in a fun, responsible way means that the students always play the same game together, using their school account and the supervisor always plays along. The House Esports from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, came to Saba earlier this year to give training. The House of Esports at Becky’s House is used from Monday through Saturday.
Becky’s House of Esports is supported by the Saba Lions Club and funding for the House of Esports has been requested at the ‘Samenwerkende Fondsen Caribbean,’ a collaborative effort of multiple foundations which supports social initiatives in the Dutch Caribbean. The funding is needed to upgrade the facility with new equipment and provide additional training.
Theater, drama, dance classes
At the Hell’s Gate Community Center, the stage has been fixed and a new floor was put in, with the cooperation of the church which owns the building. The theater, dance and drama classes are now being held there. Youngsters can look forward to movie nights at the SCS pop-up cinema called SabaPlex. Together with Body, Mind & Spirit, movies will be shown as part of the ‘Movies that Matter’ series. The building can also be used for dance events, prom nights, workshops, trainings and information gatherings.
The Hell’s Gate Community Center will contribute to having a place where the youth can come together in a positive manner. “Young people venture too much in areas where they should not be. They need a place where they can safely hang out,” said Hermans. The Saba Youth Council, as a stakeholder, is part of the efforts. The SCS started to use the building, which was used for other activities before, in September this year, with financial assistance from the Public Entity Saba.
The small building above the community center, where the Saba Lace Boutique used to be, is now also in use by the SCS. Music instruments, taken over from the Seventh Day Adventist Church, have been stored there in anticipation of the music lessons that will be taking place there in the near future. The music lessons would become part of the subject creative forming arts.
The music lessons will be organized in collaboration with of the Saba Association of Caribbean States (SACS) and the ‘Leerorkest,’ a successful initiative from the Netherlands whereby all children get the opportunity to play a music instrument. Stichting Leerorkest visited Saba last month to provide more information to educational and cultural stakeholders on the island.
With the objective of promoting culture, the SCS wants to provide quality cultural education, with the assistance of the Netherlands Culture Participation Fund and with the involvement of all local stakeholders that work with the youth. “The idea is that we do this together,” said Hermans.
As part of the ‘Strong Technics BES region’, together with St. Eustatius and Bonaire, significant improvements were made at the Godfred Bontenbal Technical Center at Cove Bay. One of the modernizations was the installation of simulators, including a Spray paint simulator and a welding simulator, as well as a mechanical lathe. Also, software, computers, furniture were upgraded. The goal is to increase the influx of technical students in education.
The living room of the B&B training facility at Becky’s House with, at left, SCS Principal Anton Hermans and the delegation of the Council of Education Labor Market Caribbean Netherlands (ROA CN).