Rev. John Troseh of the Liberia Inland Church performs the ground breaking ceremony for the annex as other guests look on.The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) funded child-friendly school, otherwise referred to as Francis Manweah Public School, is embarking on an annex worth about US$91,000.At the groundbreaking ceremony recently, Principal Rannie Gbatu said the construction of the annex comes due to the overcrowding of the school to the extent that a single classroom now accommodates about 75 students.Gbatu said the school was initially constructed for classes up to junior high level, but due to the influx of students as well as the demand for public schools in the community, the administration, with support from the Parent Teachers Association (PTA), decided to elevate it to high school.The child-friendly school started three years ago. However, according to Mr. Gbatu, since then there has been an influx of high school students, which makes student enrollment imperative, thus compelling the administration to construct an annex for additional classrooms, in order to cope with the influx.The school recently graduated about 103 students, something of which the principal boasted, because of the school’s success in this year’s West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), where about 75 percent of the senior students scored high marks in nearly all the nine subjects.The school was constructed by UNICEF as pilot project for students to learn extra curriculum activities, including “preaching of peace messages among community dwellers depicting the name; Child Friendly School.”The school was expected to have a minibus to transport students that live Guinean/Liberian border near Ganta, and a mini radio station to air peace messages, but these materials are yet to be available up to press time last night.The laboratory has remained empty, “but we are still lobbying for money to have this annex completed and also equip our lab,” said Mr. Gbatu.There are 13 high schools in Ganta, three of them being government-owned. The increase in tuition in private schools is putting tension on public schools, where student enrollment has increased dramatically.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card He played at the famed Rucker Park in the Bronx with the best players in the city. Some of those players went on to college or the NBA – Lamar Odom, Smush Parker, Stephon Marbury. Others could’ve, but got sidetracked along the way. “Those older guys, the ones who didn’t make it, they all have stories, they pass them down and try to help you,” Gibson said. “Everybody would always say, ‘Don’t end up like that. Don’t be like him.’ ” The cautionary tales were all around him. Omar Cook, the prep phenom who bolted for the NBA too early and played only 22 games before getting cut, is from the same neighborhood, the Fort Green housing projects. After his freshman year at Telecommunications High in Brooklyn,those around Gibson thought he needed a change of scenery. He’d fallen behind in his classes. He was heading down an uncertain path. So his AAU coach called a friend, Ron Slater, in California and asked for a favor. Slater was starting a prep school basketball program in Tarzana. “He just said, ‘Taj needs to get out of the city. He needs a place to go.’ So I said, ‘Send him out here and we’ll see if he can play,’ “Slater said. “And my friend says, ‘No, you don’t understand. This kid can really play. He’s 6-8 and he’s dunking over 7-footers. He can dunk on anyone.’ ” “I was the tallest person in school, but sometimes it was hard to get noticed,” said Gibson, now a senior at Cavalry Baptist Christian High in Pacoima. As good a basketball player as he was on the playgrounds he frequented, there was always somebody better, or at least, there had been somebody better. PACOIMA – Taj Gibson stands a shade taller than 6-foot-8 and weighs about 200 pounds. His wingspan is close to 7 feet. Not exactly the kind of guy you can miss in a crowd. But that’s what was happening back home in Brooklyn. He’d go through math class not understanding a concept, or worse, the whole lesson, and no one was there to help him. He’d skip school and there was no consequence. Three years later, Gibson is an NBA prospect with a scholarship offer from USC. It took an extra year, but he caught up in his credits, earned a qualifying score on the SAT and developed into one of the top power forwards in the Class of 2006. He easily could have gone to a prep school closer to home. The East Coast is filled with prep schools that cater to students like Gibson who, for one reason or another, have fallen behind or need some extra guidance in order to get to college. Prep schools are relatively new on the West Coast. They have different requirements, allowing fifth-year seniors, recruiting and looser residency requirements than a sanctioning body like the California Interscholastic Federation does. Because of that, they generally only compete against other prep schools. In Southern California, there are only two prep schools that have basketball programs – Stoneridge Prep, which is now in Moorpark, and Cavalry Baptist Christian – but there is talk of starting an eight-team prep school league in the near future. Prep schools play in tournaments across the country every couple of weeks. Most of their travel expenses are paid by tournament organizers. Top college coaches fill the stands. Gibson had his pick of scholarship offers from Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Texas, Louisville and USC. Last June, he was rated as the seventh-best NBA prospect at the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp in Chicago. But a normal day for Gibson is just as glamorous as it is for any other high-school student. He lives with two teammates in an apartment in Canyon Country. They wear school uniforms, start class at 8:30 a.m., have study hall for most of the afternoon and basketball practice in the evening. “Prep school is real serious. It’s like college,” he said. “We live on our own, have study hall, travel all over the place. But I think it prepares you better. “If you want to party and mess around, maybe prep school isn’t for you. But I’m real focused. It’s because of where I’m from. I came from hardship and I want to do everything I can to make the most of my ability so I can take care of my family.” When other athletes use that phrase – “I want to take care of my family” – it can sound cliche or insincere. But not when Gibson says it. “I want to set standards for myself. I don’t want to be another brother out there not doing nothing,” he said. “In some ways, I’m scared. I don’t want to fail. I don’t want to go home and have them say, ‘Don’t be like him.’ … That’s why I’m so focused. ” Gibson is one of three out-of-state players on the team. Other top players include guards Jonathan Gibson (no relation) and Daniel Barros, who are cousins from West Covina. Jonathan Gibson and Barros commute each day to Pacoima, but admit that it’s nothing compared to the sacrifice Taj has made. “I have a lot of respect for him. He’s like a man,” Barros said. “He lives on his own, he takes care of himself. He’s real mature.” This is the first-year Cavalry Baptist Christian has had a basketball team. The tiny 117-student, K-12 school is new at this. At first, some of the basketball players might look out of place there among the younger students. Especially the taller players like Gibson, who towers over his classmates. Gibson says that’s a small price to pay. He might stick out, but at least now, everyone notices him. Ramona Shelburne, (818) 713-3617 firstname.lastname@example.org 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!