Students head back to school for the first and last time

Two kids standing outside school with backpacks
Expect to see many more students around Camana Bay as the 2023-24 school terms begins and educators like Cayman International School High School Principal Claire McQuillan, left, and Village Montessori Principal Simone Ross, right, return to the classroom. — Photos: Rhian Campbell

A familiar youthful buzz has filled Camana Bay again as students return for the 2023/2024 school year.

Among them are two groups of students set to experience one of their most memorable years.

The start of something new
On one side of the Town Centre is an energetic and eager group of children transitioning into their first year of elementary school at Village Montessori.

Principal Simone Ross said the first thing on the agenda for the new school year is getting the students accustomed to their new learning environment.

“It takes a lot of independence to work in a learning environment like ours. …We believe in following the child, and having [each child] doing something different, all at once, requires discipline and learning a routine,” said Ross. “The first six weeks are focused on helping the students establish a routine and understand what’s expected of them – it takes a lot of repetition and consistency.”

As part of their routine, each student receives a personalised learning plan that provides opportunities for them to become responsible and independent learners.

“Each Monday, the teachers go through a work plan with the children and plan their week, so they know what needs to be done. The responsibility of having and completing the work plan gives each student some accountability and helps to establish their independence.”

With Village Montessori’s mixed classroom approach, first-year students in the school's lower elementary programme can observe the practices of older students and learn from them.

Woman posing next to globe
Woman smiling in front of bookcase

Back for the final time
Over at Cayman International School is a group of Grade 12 students experiencing the back-to-school sensation for the last time.

These seniors have a full schedule in addition to class assignments and preparation for final exams, explained CIS High School Principal Claire McQuillan.

“They have a lot to pack in as many of them remain in their [extra-curricular] teams, and they’re also making sure they’ve met all requirements for service learning, being heavily involved with Protect Our Future, Cayman ARK and others," she said.

The students also focus on life after high school, working closely with counsellors to plan it out.

“We have a careers counsellor who works with the students to have their university applications in on time and meet the criteria," she said. "Our social and emotional counsellor helps them deal with the pressures of 12th grade and what’s coming ahead — it’s a challenging time for families and students as they’re growing up and out.”

Their final year is not all work and planning, as several heart-warming activities add to this memorable time.

The seniors receive a pinning ceremony for completing their chosen high school path; are cheered on by the entire school during the annual Senior Walk; are recognised for each university acceptance letter they receive; and participate in some fun and adventurous activities during Senior Week leading up to prom and graduation, to name a few.

This article was originally featured in the September/October 2023 print edition of Camana Bay Times.

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