Valerie Dix Hall
Thanks to a generous donation from one of her godsons Nick Robertson, construction on the "Auntie Valerie" hall was completed in October 2013 with a grand opening ceremony in November.
Its primary function is to give us accreditation as an examination centre, but it also doubles as an assembly hall and provides a valuable space for extracurricular activities such as theatre club, film club (pictured), dance and debating, as well as various indoor sports facilities.
Used by both students and teachers alike, the IT lab now boasts 32 desktop computers and is a quiet space where homework and other projects can be worked on. The lab manager Jonathan is always on hand to guide students wherever necessary.
In addition the Ghana Education Service has awarded Awutu-Winton 50 laptops- teachers are now being trained in ICT by EDP volunteers and encouraged to incorporate the use of these laptops into general lesson structures
Up to now internet access has only been possible with the use of USB dongles, which is an intermittent and unsatisfactory solution. A better connection is without doubt a priority requirement, but despite being promised an internet package by the government, this has unfortunately so far not materialised. It is therefore our intention to raise sufficient funds at our annual event this October, The Great South Run, to finance a satellite connection. We will keep you updated on progress.
This is a popular space for students to work and indeed they often stay there until they are sent home by the security staff in the evening; the lack of electricity in many households precludes home study so students really make the most of the facility.
We are conscious however that the library needs to be better stocked and we are currently looking at focusing more of our resources here.
A fully equipped science lab was built for the school within the second phase of construction in 2011.
Another lab is currently being built in phase three but for the moment our current science lab has to accommodate Physics, Chemistry and Biology classes as well as our new Home Economics elective.
Outside canteen and eating area
In Ghana the preference is to cook outside in the open so although Phase 3 will include an indoor canteen, our wonderful canteen lady Auntie Aggie (pictured left) is currently content to prepare and serve her delicious meals from her shelter amongst the trees.
These trees also provide welcome shade from the hot sun for the students to sit and eat their lunches.
Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, in memory of his dear friend F. A. Hughes, AWSHS now boasts an impressive sports field.
The field was levelled courtesy of the Ghanaian Army and once the grass had been sown and the rains were over, student immediately began making the most of the new space.
There is always much excitement amongst the students who love participating in the sporting fixtures- the sports field is a huge asset to the school and enables us to host local and even regional competitions and tournaments.
The sports field is in the process of being extended and will soon boast 2 volleyball courts, a football pitch and a full-sized running track!
We have an ongoing appeal for trainers as many of our students cannot afford to buy footwear and end up playing sports either in socks or barefoot. If you have any old trainers lying around that you no longer use, please contact us here and we will organise for them to be sent to the students at Awutu-Winton.
Since the beginning our ambition has been to have a school population of around 450 students; to accommodate these numbers we need extra classrooms which, together with a canteen, an extra lab and a sick bay will make up the third phase of construction located at the top of the school site, closing in the last remaining side and completing the rectangle.
This building is now in construction, and we are looking to have it finished by the end of 2015.
The AWSHS Swimming Pool
An incredibly exciting project that has recently been given the final go-ahead is the construction of a swimming pool at AWSHS, courtesy of the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation!
The Foundation, set up by H.S.H. Princess Charlene of Monaco (herself an ex- Olympic swimmer), strives to empower young people through sport. Awutu-Winton is lucky enough to have been chosen as the first school in Ghana to benefit from this new initiative set up by the Foundation to give youngsters the chance to learn to swim, thereby also reducing the horrific number of deaths by drowning. The Learn to Swim Program is designed to help students become confident swimmers, enabling our students to be safer and to gain access to more employment opportunities, namely in fishing.
The pool has been in use since summer 2016 and we continue to be impressed by our students' achievements in the swimming pool. The vast majority had never swum before but they quickly mastered the skill. Some are even going on to compete in swimming galas. Not only is the pool a tremendous boost for AWSHS's profile locally and nationally, but it will also be an extremely useful facility from which youngsters from other schools in the area can benefit. Since the pool opened, our students have taken to the pool like ducks to water,
The Home Economics Lab
The new Home Economics Lab became operational in Summer 2016, enabling our students to participate in cooking classes.
Our students are already demonstrating their skill and are really enjoying using the facilities.
One of our earliest ambitions was to start a small farm at AWSHS and now finally, with students enrolled on the new Agriculture course which commenced in September 2016, it will become a reality!
Up until now these budding farmers have been concentrating on the theory, but now they need to put into practice what they have learned. A small plot near the sports field has been put aside for this purpose, and work is commencing on clearing the area. In addition to crop production there are plans for a chicken farm further down the line; as well as providing experience for our students, everyone of course will also benefit from this source of fresh food on our doorstep.
We are very fortunate to have been able to draw on the expertise of Dr Sue Ellen Johnson, an expert on natural resource management and agricultural sector analysis from an NGO called ACDI/VOCA who visited the school last month to help us with our planning. At AWSHS we endeavour to maintain strong links with local agencies and experts, and to engage key stakeholders in new initiatives.