Once again, our annual general meeting coincides with a significant change at our beloved alma mater. Mr. Herbert “Herbie” Nelson, the Jamaica College old boy who was recently appointed as the new principal of Kingston College, has been discharged of his duties. The circumstances surrounding this unfortunate turn of events have not been shared with us and such a scenario is unlikely based on the track record of the Board of Governors. Regardless, the period of instability that has existed for the past 6 years continues as Mr. Nelson was the 5th principal during that time frame. Of course, as to be expected, the fraternity is buzzing with chatter regarding this latest development and there is no shortage of opinion as to what is wrong with the current selection process. My opinion is that the failure to rectify this situation rests squarely with the Board.
On a personal note, after 5 years I have decided not to seek re-election to the position of president. I am grateful to the support that I have personally received as well as the general support for the Board and the organization during my tenure. Our brothers in Atlanta have decided to “return to the future” by electing Mr. Glen Laman as the president for a second stint. Dr. Ray Fraser the previous chairman of the local KCOBA chapter has been elected president and the position of chairman abolished. Mr. Audley Hewett and Dr. Ivor Nugent remain the principals for the South Florida Chapter, while Mr. Robert Kelly remains as president of the New York Chapter.
I am positive that the president and new board of KCOBA (Toronto) will continue the excellent relationship we have with the other chapters.
We have established two accounts at the National Commercial Bank in Kingston, Jamaica. Kingston College old boys, Messrs Wilfred McKenley, a chartered accountant, Hugh Manhertz and Howard Ennis have signing authority on our behalf. This arrangement allows us to more efficiently disburse funds to the school as we continue our financial support of the following:
- Lunch and Breakfast Program
- Teachers’ Appreciation Luncheon
- Teachers’ Professional Development scholarship
- Airfare for KC students to attend the York University Leadership Program in Toronto and Barbados
- Citizenship awards – Prize Giving
We are now committed to a minimum of $1,000 annually to the Kingston College Development Trust Fund and have remitted our contribution for the current year. I am appealing to all of our members to consider individual donations to the fund as it is a well managed entity that provides a vital source of funding to the school for capital projects.
Following the formal launch of the bursary in honour of our former vice president, the late Maurice MacDonald, I am pleased that we have already received several applications from our members seeking the $1,000 award. The selection committee of Messrs Barry Huie, Bert Reid and Kingsley Young will determine the recipient for 2010 and a formal announcement will be made at the upcoming reunion dinner.
The institution of a monthly conference call with the principal and presidents/principals of the KCOBA chapters at the behest of Robert Kelly (New York) has proven extremely productive. Hopefully, this will continue despite the recent development regarding Mr. Nelson.
Winning soccerfest after a long period of drought was huge and provides an opportunity to get some of our younger members engaged in other areas of the organization. Norman Wallace and Paul Chong are to be commended for their dedication to the cause.
Of course our quarterly “Fortis Friday” networking sessions remain highly popular. Our fund raising efforts have been largely successful and we are on target to meet our budgeted annual expenditure of approximately $17,000 to allow us to meet both our commitments to the school as well as our local obligations. Our financial situation is sound, the details of which are contained in the reports from the auditor and treasurer.
Clearly, the situation regarding the principal will provide a backdrop to all the other activities at the school and has the potential to adversely impact the current plans. The main focus continues to be the planned upgrade of the Douglas Forrest building which calls for the construction of an additional floor to the structure. Some preliminary work has been done by a technical committee established by the local chapter, but the overall status of the project is unclear relative to the initial projected 18-month timeframe to complete the initiative.
There is likely to be specific requests made by the school regarding the sports program. A summit was recently held at the school to discuss the sports situation and a document of the proceedings is expected shortly. Unfortunately, no member of our board was available to attend the event; as a result our position to reinstate the sports council was tabled on our behalf by Mr. Audley Hewett (Florida).
I specifically wish to thank the outgoing board of directors for their effort throughout the year. It was not always easy for all to balance the priorities of family and work with the time allocation requirements to attend meetings, follow up on assignments and represent the organization at numerous functions. Special mention should be accorded our former treasurer and life director Mr. James “Ruddy” Hart for his many years of service to our organization and by extension Kingston College.
Tonight we meet to elect a new president and board of directors to guide us through our 37th year. Our longevity is a remarkable achievement of which we should all be proud. I am positive that the new administration will have the full support of our membership and we will continue to provide the much needed support to the deserving young men attending our beloved alma mater.
President, KCOBA (Toronto)