Last week Thursday a group of students from the Belize Adventist College located in the Village of Calcutta in the Corozal District embarked on their annual sporting trip to Punta Gorda.
Late this evening, nearly a week after the trip took place; a disgruntled and frustrated parent contacted our news room informing us that on the day of the trip her 12 year old daughter was abandoned here in Orange Walk at around 4:00 in the morning.
According to Sheila Gillette at 2:00 in the morning she dropped off her daughter Stephanie Lawrence, a first form student at the Belize Adventist College, at the Central Park in Corozal Town where the students were picked up by the chartered bus.
Gillette alleges that when the bus arrived here in Orange Walk at 4:00 in the morning, Shilea was dropped off at the Orange Walk Town Hall and left there all alone. The child was informed that she was unable to go on the trip because of an outstanding school fee. But what has Gillett piping mad is not that her daughter could not take part in the trip but that she was left all alone here in Orange Walk where she has no family or friends.
Sheila Gillett, Mother
“At 4:10 in the morning she was dropped there and she was told that she had an outstanding balance and that she couldn’t go on the trip, she was left in front of the Town Hall with one other student and he went to one of his aunts’ house because he claims he has an aunt in Orange Walk and Stephanie was left in front of the Town Hall all by herself and the trip still went on her way and at no time nobody ever inform me, one that my daughter was left in front of the Town Hall at that time in the morning and to me she was heading in the trip with them, it was not until 7:30 in the morning when she got home crying that I knew that she was left there from 4:10 in the morning all alone in the middle of the night in Orange Walk Town, and was turned back to come because according to them she had an outstanding balance.”
“How did Stephanie reach home?”
Sheila Gillett, Mother
“Stephanie sat in front of the Town Hall from the minute they left them and she said that a lady was passing and she asked the lady what it was and the lady told her that it was 6:25 and then the lady asked her if she was going on a trip because she had her little bag and everything and that is when she explained her situation to the lady that she was going to her trip with her college but she was left there because she had an outstanding balance and was told that she couldn’t go on the trip an she is waiting for the bus to pass so she could come back to Corozal and she told the lady that she was from Corozal and the lady explained to her that no bus passed in front of Town Hall because that is not the bus route anymore she was trying to explain to Stephanie how to get to the bus station which is three blocks away from the Town hall and she said that she didn’t understand how the lady explain to her and the lady took her time out and walked her to the terminal in time to catch the bus that was just coming out the terminal and that is the bus that Stephanie got at 6:30 in the morning and came back home and got here in Corozal at 7:35.”
Gillett accepts that while in Corozal her daughter was informed that she could not get on the bus because of the unpaid fees. The child however, boarded the bus and it was not until teachers were conducting a roll call that they discovered she was travelling along with the group.
Sheila Gillett, Mother
“At the Central Park they were all told to get on buses and that the buses will head to the college and when they get to the college they would roll call their names and reorganize them on the buses that they were suppose to go on. Now the teacher came to me this morning Mr. Phillip Wade and he is claiming that he is not the teacher , that he is a third form teacher which I totally understand and that he was not the one that told Stephanie she couldn’t go and Stephanie is claiming that he was the one who told her she cannot go in the bus in Orange Walk and that she had to turn back, he is blaming that at Calcutta the names were called and that they told Stephanie she couldn’t go and Stephanie insisted and went on another bus, my thing is if they saw Stephanie got on another bus why didn’t they took her off the other bus, why didn’t they called me that I had to go look for Stephanie, why would they leave my child in the middle of nowhere at four in the morning a twelve year old child, why leave her there all alone knowing all those crime situation that is going on, this is a minor you are talking about. They were not the only ones and they were confirm to me by Mr. Phillip Wade that they were not the only ones, the first group of children were left right behind the Belize Adventist College that same morning at about 3:20 or so when the buses left they rushed left their children behind my understand is that also at the Libertad cut off there was another group of children that were left there for the same reason not from the same bus from a different bus but from the same institution, no care what they say that no justify that they left she one all by herself in the middle of nowhere and hours of the morning because anything could happened to her thanks that nothing happen to her and she is at home safe and sound with me today but on the other hand what if I still was looking for her missing how will they explain that to me.”
According to Gillette she has reported the matter to the General Manager of 7th Day Adventist Schools, Pastor Leslie Gillette. When we contacted Pastor Gillette today via phone he told us that the matter is under investigation. He also told CTV3 News that if investigations reveal that the child was dropped off here in Orange Walk and left all alone at 4:00 in the morning then the situation will be dealt with accordingly.
When we contacted the Principal of the Belize Adventist College Celia Clarke this evening we asked her if she would care to comment on the situation. She asked us to call back in 15 minutes which we did. At that time however, no one answered the phone.
Just before the airing of tonight’s newscast Gillette contacted our newsroom and informed us that she will be seeking legal advice on the matter.