Nestled in the cool, lush, green hills of Hanover, in the small, quiet, farming community of Pondside, is the renown Merlene Ottey High School. The school was constructed in 1988, but it remained unopened until February 1990, partly because it sustained structural damage during Hurricane Gilbert. Originally intended to be called Cascade Secondary Vocational, after the district designated for its location, a more ideal spot was identified in Pondside, which resulted in its present location.
The district's name (Cascade) was retained.
The school was named after Merlene Ottey on October 23, 1993, to commemorate the gold medal which she won at the Stuttgart Games in 1993. It has seen numerous upgrades, including becoming a comprehensive high school on September 1, 1998, and so was renamed Merlene Ottey Comprehensive High. On September 1, 2000, it then achieved high school status and was given its final and present name, Merlene Ottey High School.
The school opened its doors to its first batch of students on the 12th day of February, 1990, and has nurtured thousands since then. The co-educational institution's initial intent was to provide vocational skills training for students who were unsuccessful in the Grade Nine Achievement Test, thus catering to only two batches of students in grades 10 and 11. Today, the school offers a rich curriculum catering to over 600 students ranging from grades seven to 11. At present, there are 10 vocational subjects, 16 core subject areas, and the school currently hosts 11 clubs.
Guided by the motto 'Preparation is the Key to Success', the institution continues to participate and excel in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's cultural and culinary competitions as well as other organised competitions. The school is also known for its maths programme, where students achieve distinctions as early as grade eight and sit CAPE maths before reaching grade 10. Merlene Ottey High is also the home of the junior mayor of Hanover.
Since its establishment, the school has had three principals: Reverend Chris Anderson (1990-1991); Mrs Monica McIntyre (1991-2001); (Miss Jassie Scringer acted as principal from September 1995 to April 30, 1998 and 2001 to 2002) and current principal Mrs Joan Jackson-Cope, who has been serving since September 2002.
As rain 'set up', the light goes away.
Once you hear the water truck, you know there is no chance of early dismissal.
The students always know when the teachers get paid.
Male teachers are often referred to as 'Sar' instead of Sir.
Students are given aliases such has 'Chicken back' and 'Chung fa'.
Only at Merlene Ottey High you may be locked into math class for an entire day.
On sports day, the teachers are more competitive than the students.
The school is never out of bun and cheese.
Grade seven is referred to as 'the village'.
Every day students tour the world, since grades are named after counties all over the world.
There is enough coconut water there to cure any illness.