The Ann Sandell Independent School (ASIS), located in the Police Academy Community, over the weekend graduated 39 students, who had completed the prescribed Ministry of Education (MoE) study guidelines for both Kindergarten and 9th grades.
The graduation ceremony, which was also interspersed with the school’s official closing ceremony, was held at its main campus where scores of parents and guardians as well as siblings gathered to celebrate the modest success of their relatives.
Prior to the coming on stage of the guest speaker, the students thrilled their audience with beautiful selections and recitations, specifically the composition of the country’s judiciary, beginning with the Chief Justice and the four Associate Justices.
Reverend Martha Partor, Associate Pastor of the Frontline Baptist Church in Zubah Town, Paynesville, who served as the guest speaker, lauded the graduates for the sacrifices that led to the early success, but noted that there is still a long way to go in their educational sojourn.
Rev. Partor, a mother of five, informed the graduates that, “Please remember that the educational ladder does not stop here, it goes far beyond what you have acquired, so continue to go for higher education and let the sky be your limit.”
She told them that they are truly future investments for their parents, and so they should strive to make their parents proud. “To send a child to school nowadays is not a small thing. It is very expensive, so please do your best to make them proud of their sacrifices,” the preacher encouraged.
The eloquent and charismatic Liberian female prelate also shares the pulpit with her husband, Reverend John S. Partor. Both are the founders of the church.
“The purpose of our gathering here has its roots in the Bible — Proverbs 22: 6, which says: “Train up a child in a way that he/she should go that when he/she is old, he/she will not depart from it.”
She said that in the field of education, one may say, “Early education is good for every child, but the Catholics would say, give me a child until he/she is seven years old, and I will show you a man or a woman. And this is why we are here to celebrate the good beginning of your academic success.”
She added that the gathering was meant to celebrate four groups of people, including the school administration, parents, teachers and the graduates.
Parents are the decision makers for their children’s education and future. It is parents who instill the importance of education in their children, not just by spending the money that will have them in schools but by making them know the rewards that come when one obtains quality education.
The graduates are those who make such days possible by their many sacrifices. They are willing to make many sacrifices.
The valedictorian, Phebe Varpilah (9th grade), challenged her colleagues and those following their footsteps to be encouraged as they climb the academic ladder, “because of education’s importance, people left their busy schedules today to witness each of us leaving the walls of Ann Sandell Independent School.”
Ann Sandell Independent School (ASIS)
ASIS is a community-based, K-9 institution with low registration fees that are competitive with government schools. There are a number of students who, unable to pay the modest but required fees, enrolled through scholarships. A high percentage of the students are not living with their natural parents. The guardians of some of the children have little interest in their education or general well being, due to their struggle to provide a living for their own families.
ASIS was established in 1998 by Mrs. Leabeh Gbowee, who lost her family during the Liberian civil war. She started by tutoring and counseling children in her neighborhood who were traumatized by the war. The school’s compound now consists of 13 buildings made of mud bricks and plastered with cement. There are about 800 students from kindergarten through 9th grade. The school caters to students from poor families in the community. Many of them are not living with their biological parents and are often subject to neglect and abuse.
Pastor Ann Sandell of Lovepower Ministry in Minnesota provided the funds for the first classrooms and continues to assist the school. Africa Community Exchange (ACE-Liberia) assists the school with teachers’ salaries and training, school supplies, and professional expertise. ACE-Liberia Board Chair, Dr. Sophie Williams, and several of her entourage attended Saturday’s closing ceremony.
ACE partners with Links, Incorporated, to build and equip a library and improve other facilities at the school.
Other organizations, such as The Links, Incorporated, have also donated resources including books, supplies, and the establishment of a school library.
Since 2007, ACE has provided staff development training for teachers. In 2010, It received funding from Plan International to conduct teacher training at ASIS, but partnered with The Link, Incorporated in 2013, and conducted a Train-the-Trainers seminar for participants from the MoE, the University of Liberia, ASIS, The African Methodist Episcopal University (African Methodist Episcopal University) and School for the Blind in Virginia, outside Monrovia.
The Principal Eric Gboe, a trained accountant, expressed gratitude to those working behind the scenes, including the teaching and support staff for making the ASIS second to none in the community.