T. C. Phipps-Benjamin
A Time To Mourn
Monday September 1st, 2014 is now on record as one of the most exciting days in our schools’ calendar year. For most schools in the federation, it was the official start of a brand new school year. School administrators would have long examined the pitfalls of the past school year and now look with renewed hope and eager excitement for a successful school year that may well surpass the accomplishments of last year, now just pages etched in our nation’s history books.
Our nation’s students have achieved exceptional things during the course of the last school year. Across both islands, students have exceeded expectations in English and Mathematics with much more favourable pass rates when compared to their regional counterparts. In fact, education Minister Senator the Honourable Nigel Carty is on record touting a national average pass rate at CSEC for 2014 of 79% exceeding the pass rate of the Caribbean region which returned a pass rate of 61%. We stand proud in our academic successes as a nation.
Unfortunately, the life of a family in the village of Jessups on Nevis changed in an instant on the afternoon of Saturday September 6, 2014. The impending anticipation for the start of a school year turned to misery for one family on that fateful day.
Social media was rife with stories about the gruesome and tragic death of a beautiful fifteen year old teenager, who, by all accounts, was looking forward to the start of a brand new school year. The brutal rape and murder of Shante Claxton was finally confirmed by early evening on Saturday and life in the Claxton home and the village of Jessups was changed forever. The first day of school at the Charlestown Secondary on Monday September 8, would be anything but normal, marred by tragic news of the loss of a gentle soul on the tiny island of Nevis.
Suddenly, the academic successes of the past school year meant nothing. Suddenly, students in Nevis needed to be consoled, teachers needed to devise a plan of action to help students cope. Suddenly, a family had to think under unfathomable duress about burying their child, ripped from them without warning! The heartache of Shante’s family and loved ones is immeasurable and words seem to escape all of us trying to understand what kind of human being could unleash such rage on this young human being.
The outpouring of sympathy, love, and support for the grief stricken Jessups family is unspeakable. Citizens at home and abroad have been overcome by Saturday’s news and many are eager to offer spiritual, moral and other forms of support to assist the family during this time of mourning.
Acting Premier Mark Brantley bore the difficult task of sharing condolences with the Claxton family, dear friends, community and the people of Nevis on behalf of the Nevis Island Administration. Brantley pledged the administration’s support to the family and friends of Shante and in particular the students of her school, the Charlestown Secondary School.
Police Commissioner C. G. Walwyn assured the public that the “full resources” of the Police Force would be used in bringing the perpetrator to justice, “And if needed, I will seek the help of the FBI,” he remarked. The investigation into this senseless crime continues.
The anticipated excitement of the start of the 2014 school year has now become a solemn time. A nation now mourns the loss of a helpless and unsuspecting young girl who’s big, bright future was snuffed out by some heartless being. An act of violence so brutal, it has left many in utter speechlessness.
New York Times best selling author Jodi Picoult writes, “In the English language, there are orphans and widows, but there is NO WORD for the parents who loses a child.”
The Claxton family will need time to mourn their tragic loss. As the dark and difficult days that lay ahead befall them, may the good spirited people of Shante’s community, Nevis and the federation surround the bereaved family with love and support and may our most supreme creator guard, guide and protect them.
Sincere condolences to the family and friends of Shante Claxton.