PHILIPSBURG – To observe the anniversary of the partition of the island of St. Maarten/St. Martin, the students of the Methodist Agogic Center (MAC) Browlia Maillard Campus, and the Aline Hanson School in Sandy Ground participated in a friendly relay race to re-enact aspects of the legend or myth of how the island was divided.
The activity, which was held on Wednesday, April 6, from 8:30 am to 10:30am, saw the participation of more than 160 students from both the northern and southern sides of the island.
The primary goals of the race were to promote cooperation between education institutions on both sides of the island; to develop cooperation based on a common history, to create student ambassadors of peace and friendship; to promote UNESCO’s international values; to strengthen students’ sense of belonging to a “Friendly Island;” to inspire social cohesion by uniting citizens from various backgrounds; and to promote a healthy lifestyle through engaging in sport activities.
The idea of the friendly race originated with Aline Dermaux, a teacher at the Aline Hanson School. Dermaux made contact with Secretary General of the National Commission for UNESCO Marcellia Henry to share the idea in order to make it a reality. Henry, thereafter contacted Principal Davis of the MAC Browlia Maillard Campus, who welcomed this wonderful initiative.
The Aline Hanson School, which is known as “The Friendly School” is a UNESCO Associate School, and is part of the network of schools throughout the world committed to the ideals of UNESCO, by conducting pilot projects in favour of better preparing children and strengthening the role of education in promoting a culture of peace and tolerance. “The intention is to also establish at least two UNESCO Associate Schools on the southern side of the island as well,” said Henry.
The route of the friendly race for the students of the MAC was from the frontier in Lowlands on the Dutch side: Mullet Bay, Maho, Airport Road, Causeway Bridge, Cole Bay Frontier and Bellevue.
The route for the students of the Aline Hanson School was from the frontier in Lowlands on the French side: Terres Basses, Baie Nettlé, Sandy Ground, Marigot, Low Town and Bellevue.
There were 15 legs or handing off areas where the baton, which was the flag of St. Maarten and St. Martin, was passed from one captain to another. The students ran in groups of 5 or more.
At the end of the race, both schools went to the Cultural Center in Sandy Ground where dignitaries including, Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Silveria Jacobs and the French President of Sports gave congratulatory speeches.
Minister Jacobs stressed the importance of cooperation, and what a great example this race is for promoting unity and togetherness of schools on the northern and southern sides.