About seventy parents of children in the Standard 6 class of the St. Edmund Campion School in Teakettle Village, Cayo District, gathered in front of the school this morning to protest the return of the children to the school’s church, which is being used as a classroom.
As many as eleven Standard 6 children of St. Edmund Campion in Teakettle Village, Cayo District, had to be rushed for medical attention on Friday, October 28, after they suddenly became unconscious after being out in the school yard picking up trash.
Only the children of that particular classroom, which is also the building that houses the church, experienced this incident, we were told, and the multiple incidents began occurring sometime after 8:00 that Friday morning.
We travelled out West to investigate this strange happening on Friday evening, and returned this morning, Monday, to find out that the children are terrified of returning to the building.
Julian Reyes, 11, was one of the first students to pass out on Friday. When we met him on Friday evening, he was recuperating at home. According to Julian, everything in the classroom just seemed foggy when he walked in. He then said that he felt a striking headache and then began “seeing doubles” before passing out.
He said that before becoming unconscious, his entire body felt stiff and he started to lose his balance.
Julian’s homeroom teacher then took Julian to the principal’s office, and it was advised that he be taken home.
“I thought maybe he had had no breakfast,” said the teacher.
But when Julian arrived home, the pain was not getting any better and his father, concerned, took him to the Western Regional Hospital in Belmopan.
While Julian was being transported to the hospital, another child began complaining of similar symptoms.
According to the teacher, the class was out in the school yard picking up garbage, and when they had finished and returned to the classroom, three more students also began complaining of similar symptoms, but the teacher told us that when the number of children had reached 11, she knew something was wrong.
When Julian arrived at the hospital, he had to be lifted in. There, he met his other ten classmates, who were also reportedly lifted in because they could not walk. The children were inconsolable, and crying in pain. Their parents arrived shortly.
The children were given an injection and kept under observation, but were released sometime after 12:00 p.m. We understand, however, that one of the children stayed in the hospital.
On Friday, parents verified to Amandala that the doctors could not say what was wrong with the children, but suggested that possibly, the children had probably inhaled some kind of pesticide, or other chemical in the air.
But the children we were able to speak with strongly disagreed. They said something evil was lurking in that classroom.
“I felt something jump on top of me and hold my breath like if they did not want me to live,” said a fourteen-year-old.
Pastor Remejio Santoya is one of the parents who were called by the school. According to Santoya, he was working at home when they told him that the children had passed out. Santoya told us that he visited the classroom and blessed the classroom to revoke the evil forces, but warned that these spirits are powerful enough to return.
He added that a place of worship should not be used for classes.
Meanwhile, the children’s teacher, like the doctor, told us that the incidents had nothing to do with any “evil spirits,” and that it was probably something in the air that affected the children, like a chemical spray or pesticides on the roadside. The matter was not explained further.
The school was closed for the rest of Friday evening and classes resumed today, Monday, but the children did not want to attend classes in the church building.
When we arrived in Teakettle this morning, however, we did not meet a confrontational situation. The principal, who at first did not want to talk to us, denied that there was a protest at all that morning.
According to her, the teachers had a meeting with area representative Hon. Ramon Witz, and the parents had only gathered in the school yard to voice their concerns about their children not wanting to go back into the church building for classes.
The meeting concluded with the decision to construct a new building for the Standard 6 students commencing as early as this coming Monday. The new building should be completed in the next two weeks.
As for the students, the unexplained phenomenon has left them very shaken, but the principal says that they have received counseling today, and will continue to receive it where needed.
One major concern, though, for the students as well as their parents, is that in the meantime, the classes will have to be held in the church building.
One parent suggested that the children could have classes under a tree in the meantime.
A parent told us that her child is very upset about the situation and refuses to return to the church for classes, because he is scared.
The parent also told us that if the children do not attend church, this will affect their eligibility for graduation, because attending mass is a requirement for graduating.
Back in August our newspaper reported on an exorcism that had been reportedly conducted at a high school here in the city on a second-form student who had become possessed after she and two female friends, also second form students, had played with an Ouija board.
(Amandala reporter Stacey Kelly contributed to this story.)Amandala