(L to R) GHS students Kayden Richards, Yalfri Santana, Zoy Noel, Monique Edwards, Jah’Sheada Griffith, Alex Raymond, Maysonne Attika, Makeda Dawson, Thomas Nguyen, Viniqua David, K’yon Louis with Caneel Bay Resort Managing Director Nikolay Hotze.
Fourteen Gifft Hill School high school students gathered in Caneel Bay Resort Managing Director Nikolay Hotze’s office on Wednesday afternoon, June 4, to wrap up their internships at the luxury hotel.
Students met with Hotze on the final day of their 18-week interns, which convened each Wednesday for about an hour and half and incorporated three different programs.
This was the second year of the Caneel Bay and GHS collaboration and students who took the class for the first time gained experience in about 10 different departments, rotating every two weeks. The students in the Caneel 1 class tried their hands at everything from security to concierge and watersports at the North Shore Road resort.
Students who took the class last year were able to enroll in the Caneel 2 class, where they chose three departments to concentrate on at the property, spending six weeks in each.
Several other students, who had fulfilled the GHS culinary class prerequisites, were able to spend the entire 18 weeks in different kitchens in the Caneel Bay Culinary class.
“We spent time up at Turtle Bay and at the pastry kitchen where we decorated a cake,” said GHS Senior Jah’Sheada Griffith.
All of the Caneel classes have proved to be among the most popular electives at GHS, with students enjoying the ability to choose the departments at the resort where they wanted to spend time and the chance to get off campus once a week.
“It was good to get out of the classroom for a while once a week,” said Makeda Dawson, an 11th grader at GHS who enrolled in Caneel 1 this year. “And it was fun to see behind the scenes of what goes on at a big hotel. I really liked working in the gift shop and interacting with people.”
Students learned so much through the classes thanks to the Caneel Bay Resort staff, explained the school’s Director of School and College Counselling Meghan Duffy.
“Everyone at Caneel has been amazing,” said Duffy. “Nikolay and Paula Tilas and the entire staff has been so welcoming and so great to the students. We can’t say enough about how open and how friendly everyone has been.”
Taking time to meet with the students last week, Hotze told the GHS high schoolers he hoped they gained something from the experience.
“It was a good accomplishment for us at Caneel and I hope it helped you too,” said Hotze. “I hope it showed you something different, about what work life is like. This is business on the island and this is real life; you weren’t sheltered here.”
Each of the students told Hotze their favorite parts of the internship program and presented the Managing Director with a hand-made card signed by all participants.
While many of the students enjoyed working in the kitchens — learning how to make tempura batter was cited as a highlight — other students loved talking to guests at the concierge department. The best part of the program for Maysonne Attika was learning about the history of Caneel Bay Resort, he explained.
“I liked being in the grounds department and learning about the history of the ground and the resort,” said Attika, who studied with long-time Caneel Bay Resort employee Oriel Smith.
Kayden Richards’ favorite part of the Caneel Bay internship was the chance he had to improve his communication skill.
“I liked the experience of being in the concierge area and dealing with the phones which I was not really good at before,” said Richards. “I liked improving my communications and by the second day I was able to do a lot more because I learned the extensions and how to use the system. Now I’m more comfortable with communications.”
For K’yon Louis, the best part of the GHS and Caneel program was being able to help guests at the property, he explained.
“My favorite part of the program was being in security where I got to interact with guests and help them,” said Louis.
Monique Edwards enjoyed making friends at Caneel, she explained.
“The best part for me was meeting employees,” said Edwards. “I made friends.”
Dawson too made good friends, she added.
“I liked working with my friend in the gift shop,” said Dawson. “It was fun and I liked helping tourists with local information.”
While several of the students will be among the seniors graduating from GHS this Friday at Trayser Field, many of the students returning to school next year promised they would be back for another intern program at Caneel Bay Resort.