Building a Community

Newsletter issue: 
September 2013
News item date: 
Thursday, September 12, 2013

By Kaitlyn Guzik (In-Country Coordinator of Community Development)

The Sizyem and Philo students spell out their roles as alpha and omega symbols on the LCS basketball court.

As the gates of Louverture Cleary School (LCS) opened for the start of a new year, they welcomed 61 new sizyem (seventh grade) Louverturians from Port au Prince and the surrounding area.  Alongside them, the Philo (senior) students embarked on their seventh and final year at LCS; they will be the 18th group to graduate from LCS.

As the Philo students prepare for the national exam and university, they also take on new responsibilities in the community as they mentor the younger students and uphold the standards of LCS.

Marjorie Mombrun, Principal of LCS and a 2006 graduate, is optimistic about this year’s incoming class.  “When choosing the incoming class, we chose students who were strong in French and Mathematics.  If they have a natural aptitude for their studies, they will be able to devote time to work and community life.”  The future class of 2020 includes 32 girls and 29 boys.  For most of them, this will be their first time away from home. Marielle Laprès, LCS Librarian and Admissions Officer, knows that the transition from living at home to living in community, away from one’s family, can be difficult.  “The sizyem students come from many different schools and families, so they have a lot to learn about living in community: what to share, what not to share, how to respect others.”

Francis Emmanuel, age 12, admits that he was nervous at the prospect of living with so many new people, but he reports that the student Guides have already made him feel more comfortable.  “They have been very helpful. I know that if I have a question, I can always ask them.”  Francis is already embracing his responsibilities as a Louverturian and hopes to take advantage of every opportunity to give back.  “I want to have good grades and to have good results on my exams.  I want to help whenever I can with cleanup and with activities like sports and the language program.”

At LCS, Guides lead Netwayaj (campus clean up), Work Hours, study hours, and daily assemblies.  This added level of responsibility for Philo students is crucial not only in facilitating the logistics of LCS, but in preparing students to be leaders in society after graduation.  Philo student Suzie Amilcar takes her new role very seriously and her hopes for the coming year consist primarily in serving as a positive leader for the younger students.  “As Guide, your first job is to help the younger students become good community members… This year, I want to set a good example in everything – academics, work projects and in helping students practice Language of the Day.”  After graduation, Suzie hopes to pursue a career in political law and to bring her keen sense of responsibility to Haiti’s legal system.

Suzie and her classmates have come a long way since their first year as sizyem students.  As a sizyem student, Suzie recalls, “I used to think the jobs they gave me were too difficult.  But now, I can do anything.  I can even work with the bèton (concrete).” Deacon Patrick Moynihan remarked, “At times it’s clear to me how long I’ve been in Haiti—my knuckles tell me just how long.  But I still find the fact that we are getting ready for our 18th graduation impressive.”