CUPECOY--Caribbean International Academy (CIA) on Saturday officially opened its Boarding School at its campus in Cupecoy.

President of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams cut the ribbon to officially open the Boarding School along with CIA’s Student Council representatives, grade 12 students, Radiance Richardson and Michelle Erato. The Boarding School was dedicated to former CIA student Jeronimo Samson, who passed away a few years ago. A plaque, which will be displayed inside the common living spaces of the residence was unveiled during the ceremony.

CIA said after it noticed a demand for a first boarding school in St. Maarten, it began renovating and re-purposing an entire building on its premises for this purpose. The residence building is now complete with living areas, multiple private bathrooms and showers, single and double rooms, a kitchen, Wifi and has access to all of the current CIA facilities including a 25m three lane pool and a sports court.

CIA said the boarding residence “creates a home in St. Maarten” for students from around the world. The Residence, while exclusive, is also welcoming and nurtures mature, independent young people ready to live away from home in a caring environment.

“For our boarding students, the Residence offers a supportive home as they launch into more independent lives. For our non-residents, the arrival of international students will open their minds and lives to broader perspectives. For St. Maarten, the presence of an internationally acclaimed boarding school will create new business opportunities and worldwide connections,” CIA said.

The residence can accommodate a maximum of 14 students - eight females and six males. The students will be residing with CIA’s Residence Director “in a family-like atmosphere.”

The residence occupies three floors with security and internet connectivity. Boarding students will participate in a range of extracurricular activities at the school during the week. On weekends students will participate in island-based activities such as snorkelling, sailing, diving, riding, which are offered by local businesses on the island who will be working alongside CIA all throughout the year.

The residence has a local chef who will provide three meals a day. The Residence will have student-centred weekly family meetings at which the residents will discuss their needs, opportunities and concerns under the mentorship of the Residence Director.

In remarks at the ceremony, Wescot-Williams said having witnessed CIA grow from its infancy to where it is today, “I think it’s just another part of a larger vision for education (in) St. Maarten and for CIA in particular.”

She said CIA has played a significant role in offering a different type of education and a new vision in education allowing students to have so many opportunities. “This particular residence, a part of the CIA experience, only goes to show that there is so much that we can do because of the foundation that has been laid on St. Maarten for education opportunities,” Wescot-Williams said. “Those who will be living in this residence will be getting a preparation for what college life can be and will be like, and the experience these students will be getting at Caribbean International Academy Boarding School and in St. Maarten, will be one they will never, ever forget,” she noted.

With the opening of the boarding school, CIA said it aims to create “the premier boarding school” in the Caribbean region. “By opening our doors to international students and offering them a home here with us, we will broaden the perspective of our entire school community, build new international relationships and expand the four walls of our classrooms to embrace the world,” the school said.

CIA opened in 2003 in Cupecoy. It is an accredited international school through the Ontario Ministry of Education and is inspected every year. Graduates receive an Ontario Secondary School Graduation Diploma. CIA has students from St. Maarten, St. Martin and Anguilla attending the institution.

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