US Ambassador Joseph Mondello yesterday encouraged form one students of the Success Laventille Secondary School to forget the negative statements made against them and soar to greatness.
Speaking at the school's launch of its science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and life skills programme, Mondello, told the students they should follow their hearts and while they should listen to what people have to say, they must remember that people are not always right.
He told them STEM will teach them lessons that the world is looking for in employees, particularly in women, to take over what used to be male-dominated fields. He recalled not doing well in academics and someone advised him to become an unskilled labourer. Instead he went to college, graduated on the dean's list, joined the US Army and went on to law school.
"Share your dream and take time to tell others about it," he told the children adding that voluntarism is needed not only in TT but worldwide, as he encouraged them to develop a lifestyle of giving back.
Also addressing the children was a past student, lecturer at University of TT, Dr Andrew Hunte, who told them they are success stories. He said the children could also attain doctoral level education as he did and le looks forward to hearing their success stories.
The one-year STEM project, which for now targets the first form students, is a collaborative effort between the school's US/TT Alumni Association, and the US Embassy and is funded by the US Department of State’s Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF).
Hunte told the media the STEM project will be taught to the teachers, who will pass it on to the children. It will form part of the school's curriculum and be taught both in and out of school hours. He added that since the school already has a functional arts programme through the pan, science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) will be a natural progression.
Hunte said the school was selected out of 1,300 applicants after the review committee was told of the violence with which the school has been affiliated.
He added that as a former student he wanted to give back to his school and community.
"I am a product of Laventille and a product of this school, so it is just a sense of giving back to the community.
"We expect that the students will have a change in their outlook on life and know they are capable of becoming engineers or anything they want to be," Hunte said.
The school has been highlighted for killings and shootings in the past. A suggestion was made to relocate it, but that was shelved, a stance Hunte agrees with, since, he said, the school has been a pillar of the community and generated untold success stories.