New spaces opened for students at the Terra Sancta College in Amman

More than 600 people gathered in the crowded theater of the Terra Sancta College in Amman. September 24 was a Sunday afternoon filled with the joy of students, parents and teachers at the school belonging to the Custody of the Holy Land. The reason for occasion was the inauguration of a new wing at the Terra Sancta College, which is now ready two years after construction work began. Having started in 2015, the work was continued even after the first students had begun taking classes at the school in September 2016. To celebrate the newly prepared venues, a big ceremony took place at the school. The Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, Mons. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the former Patriarch, Fouad Twal, and the Patriarchal Vicar to Jordan, Mons. Shomali, were also present.

“The new wing at the Terra Sancta College was designed to re-integrate the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) program,” explained Fr. Rachid Mistrih, the school’s dean. The program, which will involve children ages five and up, was created by the University of Cambridge and contributes to making the school more international. “At the request of parents, we wanted to resume the IGCSE,” continued the friar, “but the British Council wanted new well equipped premises for approval.” This was how the the construction work to the new structure came about. It is a three-story building: each floor has 1,500 square meters of space and includes 15 classrooms, with offices, scientific laboratories, a library and meeting rooms.

In September, the first courses for these new programs began and several parents decided to enroll their children in it. From first to tenth grade, there are 246 students enrolled, including both boys and girls. “We did not expect this many students to enroll. It is obvious that there was this need and we have responded to it: this is the greatest success,” said Fr. Rachid.

During the inauguration ceremony in the crowded theater, the students sang the school’s anthem, which recalls its history. The foundation dates back to 1948 when several friars and families fled from Jerusalem to Amman and so the Custody decided to build a school for the youth.

The audience then watched the two videos that were projected: one was about the Franciscan presence in the Holy Land and the other one was about the history of the Terra Sancta College. Two students spoke in Arabic and English to express their gratitude for the opportunity that is being offered to them at the school: technological development, new spaces and sports. After a musical and dance performance, it was time for the students’ long awaited awards ceremony. Mons. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, assisted by the Custos of the Holy Land, awarded prizes to the pupils with the highest academic standing.

A special thanks was given to the engineers, thanks to whom the new structure was up and running, who were given the gift of ceramic objects engraved with the blessing of Saint Francis to the friar Leone. Fr. Rachid took the floor to express his gratitude to those who helped with the project and also to Mons. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who during his twelve years as Custos, always brought encouragement to the school.

After the ribbon was cut and the new spaces were blessed for the students, all of the guests celebrated outdoors with a specially prepared refreshment. Fr. Rachid joyfully greeted parents enthusiastically: “We are very happy with how the friars work generously to offer our children the very best.”

Beatrice Guarrera

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