Breaking free: Beyond Rugby helped students with a Homework Academy and taught them solid citizenship values, besides teaching them sports skills. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Breaking free: Beyond Rugby helped students with a Homework Academy and taught them solid citizenship values, besides teaching them sports skills. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

WEDNESDAY, MAY 2: One CedarBridge Academy student was on the fast track to becoming a high school dropout.

But now he is passing all his classes and is looking forward to staying on the path to graduation.

That’s what Beyond Rugby is doing to help students off the pitch.

The inaugural season of Beyond Rugby will draw to a close with the Aspen/Validus School Rugby Championships on Sunday.

The Championships will take place at the North Fields of the National Sports Centre from 1pm to 5pm, and will include both boys and girls from six primary schools, four middle schools, and four secondary schools.

John Layfield, organizer, said: “I’m excited to see these kids play. We’ve had some tremendous rugby games. I really hope a lot of people come out and support these kids.

“I’m thrilled for our kids and I’m thrilled for Bermuda. One of the things we wanted to do is showcase our kids because we have some wonderful kids.

“We’re going to have a pretty high level of rugby for having so many kids who have never played rugby before this season. We want to showcase our kids and let people come out and see them and what they’ve been doing.”

Beyond what’s happened on the rugby field, Layfield said what’s happened off the pitch has been spectacular.

One of the wonderful things that have happened is the relationship Beyond Rugby has been able to develop with the schools.

“I cannot say enough nice things about the administrations, teachers and staff at both Dellwood and CedarBridge. They have been really fantastic. They care about these kids.”

He said many people have stepped forward to help work with the students because they believe in them.

“The kids have worked very hard. We have a 50 per cent black Bermudian male drop out rate.”

He said his kids would be more at risk and their chances of dropping out would be higher, but “100 per cent of our kids still plan on graduating after a year. Based on averages, 30 or more of our kids would be dropouts.”

Options

“It’s great to see them all still hanging in there,” Layfield said.

“The main thing is to give them options because if they drop out of school, their options stop at that point. Whether construction jobs come back or tourism jobs come back, it’s irrelevant if they aren’t qualified to do anything.

“Every single day we preach to them ‘you’ve got to have options’. We talk to them about values and being quality individuals and we also coach rugby, but the main thing is they have to stay in school.

“At times it’s been tough at Homework Academy. We have some wonderful police officers who donate their time and come out to help at Dellwood. At times the kids can be tough to deal with when you’re trying to get them to do their homework, but they understand the bigger picture now. That’s been very rewarding for us.”

He cited as an example one CedarBridge student who had been in trouble but is now passing all his classes.

“We had a big party for him. We got him his favourite dessert and gave him a big round of applause but we have a lot of success stories like that. We have a lot of kids who were failing one or two classes but now are passing all their curriculum.

“We’re just one piece of the puzzle. Both CedarBridge and Dellwood do a wonderful job and we’re a supplemental piece. There are a lot of great people doing things to help kids. We’re just one group trying to make a difference in kids’ lives.”

The Primary school competition will begin at 1pm followed by the older students and championship games will occur between 3:30pm and 5pm, followed by an awards ceremony.

All Bermuda school rugby champions will be crowned for the first time in a one-day event.

The primary school teams will compete for the John L. Williams President’s Plaque for boys and girls.

Middle school teams will be playing for the Aspen/Validus Bermuda Middle Schools Rugby Championship Plaque. Secondary school teams will be playing for the Aspen/Validus Bermuda High Schools Rugby Championship Plaque.