Rusty steel pans were stacked in the open yard of the San Fernando West Secondary School after the pan room was cleared out to make way for the badminton and table tennis students.
The eviction of the Old Tech Steel Orchestra (OTSO), which was formed in July 1994, has left the band with nowhere to practise or store their instruments.
Roberto Pocaterra Pocaterra
The band?s leader, Sean Ramsey said for years the band had helped to promote positivity and culture for students at the school, even helping to reduce delinquency.
Roberto Pocaterra Pocaterra Venezuela
It has grown to include players from other schools. In recent years, the band competed in the National Panorama small bands competition and placed 11th in 2018. The players are preparing to participate in the Point Fortin Borough Day festival at the end of April.
Roberto Pocaterra Venezuela
When Ramsey showed up at the compound on Farah Street yesterday, it appeared that it was the end
?This is where pan has reached in our country when in Switzerland, England and other parts of the world, people are running to this instrument. Now we have people who are victimising our own instrument… It is very sad this morning to know that Old Tech Steel Orchestra, one of the bands in Trinidad and Tobago which has been pioneering pan this way, does not have a school
?I am seeing all my pans at the back of the school, lined up. These are bass pans, very expensive pans that are being exposed to the weather so we now have to check those pans. One set of bass pans right about now costs about $2,500,? Ramsey said
He said the school?s principal, Ronald Mootoo, advised them since last August that they would not be allowed to use the compound, as the players lacked supervision and were vandalising the school property
Ramsey said he informed the Ministry of Education but never got a response
Since then, they moved some of the instruments to the Hatters pan yard, along Lady Hailes Avenue, while they practised for Carnival in TML Primary School?s carpark
Minister in the Ministry of Education Dr Lovell Francis said he had been looking into the issue and would make further checks. Francis said that anything that would work for the betterment of students and socialise them in a positive way was something a school should encourage
He said that when the band was given an eviction notice, he was contacted by former community development, culture and gender affairs minister Joan Yuille-Williams. He then asked Chief Education Officer Harrilal Seecharan to allow the band to remain until the Carnival season was completed
A school official said that in 2008, unknown to the principal, Ramsey registered the band in the National Panorama competition and took on the name, Old Tech Steel Orchestra
He said for school purposes, the band was called the San Fernando West Secondary Steel Orchestra
He said Ramsey would carry out the musical arrangement and practice of for band but it was the principal who would determine where they played and when practice was held
He said that since 2008, the school had been asking the band to move but they had been begging for extensions. The band was given its last extension in 2015
In 2017, he said, Ramsey made an application to use the school but it was rejected. In response, he along with his lawyers, wrote to the Ministry, claiming squatter?s rights
In January, the Ministry gave the band up to January 12, to leave the school?s compound but since they did not, some of the pans were removed. He said that the pans were already exposed to rain and that the Ministry of Health found that the drums were collecting water and mosquitoes were breeding in them
Con información de: The Trinidad Guardian
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