Last Sunday, I enjoyed Kingston College at its best. The KC choir, under the distinguished direction of Mr. Audley Davidson, offered a spellbinding Christmas performance for the benefit of a large audience at the University Chapel. As we were leaving, with the lingering strains of Handel's Alleluia Chorus in the evening air, I was prompted to reflect on the fortunes and prospects of Kingston College – alma mater for thousands, place of vocation for hundreds, beloved school for almost all.
Tradition of Distinction
Undoubtedly, Kingston College is blessed. Its tradition of distinction in all areas of scholastic and extra-curricular activity puts most other schools well into the shade. Bishop Gibson and Douglas Forrest stand out in our collective memories as both purveyors and harbingers of greatness: countless adults today continue to trace their achievements in later life to "Priest" and "Dougs", as well as to other teachers of the highest class, legends of their time. The Church has continued to guide policies within the School, and has reinforced the work of outstanding teachers who have day-to-day contact with students, Old Boys and other active well-wishers.
The tradition of distinction is also reflected in the academic realm. About two weeks ago, while walking across the Mona Campus, I came upon a "young" Old Boy – a grown man on the fringes of thirty – in the midst of a Masters degree while holding down a full-time job. Some yards later, I encountered another "young" Old Boy, this time a little more youthful at about twenty: he's pursuing a medical degree, and reminded me that there were six KC Old Boys in his class. While I spoke with him, a third, and more genuinely young Old Boy greeted us. The third is in the first year of his law degree, and to my certain knowledge is in a class with other progressive KC Old Boys. On this occasion, it was not so much the Alleluia Chorus that entered my mind as I spoke with three strivers on the campus – though, perhaps, it could have. Rather, for some reason, it was Marley's Natty Dread that occurred to me.
Why? Well, there was the straightforward point about meeting uplifting persons in the course of a walk. But there was something else: the symbolism of progress. Kingston College has always represented progress to broad sectors of the Jamaican populace. It is progress embodied in the notion that if you work hard, and are committed to helping yourself and others, Kingston College will do its best to facilitate your achievement, regardless of your social roots or your political persuasion. And this progress will redound to the benefit of the wider society. This, then, is one precious gift of Kingston College to society. We are, as persons with links to the College, committed to the twin notions of individual upliftment through hard work, and to social progress.
Spur to Future Successes
Perhaps paradoxically, however, a tradition of excellence can be a two-edged sword. On one side, it affirms our quality, and inspires us to continue striving for the highest: this affirmation is reflected daily in our beloved motto, and provides driving force not only for students and teachers within the school, but also – and perhaps moreso – for Old Boys and their families. On the other side, a tradition of excellence may encourage some to rest on their laurels. Have we not sensed, on occasion, a tendency to accept standards that do not accept the highest levels of achievement? Our past does not justify complacency, but rather, it must spur us on to future successes.
With these considerations in mind, I take the opportunity to thank the Church, the Board, the staff, the Old Boys' fraternity, the Ministry of Education, parents, relatives, friends, and the students of Kingston College for our recent successes. But I also take the opportunity to note that there are challenges – not challenges up ahead in some hazy, distant future, but challenges that face us at Kingston College today, and everyday. To put things mildly, the school's infrastructure leaves much to be desired; the various academic and sporting teams need support; we need more scholars; we need a Sixth Form that reflects the highest standards of intellectual activity not just sometimes, but all the time; we must redouble efforts to kick start expansion plans and plant improvement schemes that may now be as old as the typical Grade 11 student; and we must remain sensitive to the fact that KC's successes in various spheres lift the school in every sphere.
Please accept my best wishes at Christmas, and my hope that 2011 will be a year of success for you. May we work together to lift our beloved Kingston College to greater heights: Fortis Cadere Cedere Non Potest.
Stephen Vasciannie, Board Chairman