St. Maarten students mark border partition with friendly island race

POSTED: 04/11/16 11:50 AM



Celebration at the end of the friendly race. Photo contributed


St. Maarten News – To observe the anniversary of the partition of the island of St. Maarten / St. Martin, the students of the M.A.C. Browlia Maillard Campus, and the Aline Hanson School in Sandy Ground participated in a friendly running race to reenact aspects of the legend or myth of how the island was divided.

The activity, which was held last Wednesday from 8.30 to 10.30 a.m., saw the participation of more than 160 students from both the northern and southern side 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 our 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 living style through engaging in sport activities.

The idea of the friendly race originated with Ms. Aline Dermaux, a teacher at the Aline Hanson School. Ms. Dermaux made contact with Marcellia Henry, Secretary General of the National Commission for UNESCO to share the idea in order to make it a reality. Ms. Henry, thereafter contacted Principal Davis of the M.A.C. Browlia Maillard Campus, who welcomed the 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 of education in promoting a culture of peace and tolerance. ‘The intention is to establish at least two UNESCO associate schools on the southern side of the island as well,” Henry said.

The route of the friendly race for the students of the M.A.C. Browlia Maillard Campus 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 children ran in groups of five 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 side of the island.

During the ceremony, both teams were also presented with trophies, and exchanged hand-made gifts by the students from both schools. Based on the success of the event, both schools look forward to ‘the friendly race’ becoming an annual event.

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