This may be a good time for me to bring you up to date on certain recent developments that touch and concern Kingston College. This is intended as a follow-up to my Christmas message. Several of the items considered below concern infrastructural improvements at both North Street and Melbourne Park, an area of emphasis for the Board. From the outset, I wish to express gratitude to the Church, the Old Boys, staff members, students and others who have contributed to various efforts that uplift the school.
The Board has been giving consideration to the appointment of a new Principal for the school. We spread a broad net in advertising, and received applications from within and without Jamaica. In all, there were 19 applicants. A Special Committee of the Board, comprising five members, considered these applications, and has recommended that five candidates be shortlisted for interviews. There will be different stages in the selection procedure, but we hope to find a candidate who will satisfy the interests and aspirations of the different groups of Kingston College stakeholders. We also hope, of course, that the selection process will conducted smoothly, professionally, and with the sensitivity and attention to detail befitting a great school. Interviews for the position are scheduled to be conducted in April. In the meantime, I am pleased that Mr. Everton Burrell will continue to give valuable service as the acting Principal.
The Anglican Church has very kindly committed a very significant sum of money which is to be used to ensure that the Principal of Kingston College will have suitable residential accommodation. The Board is grateful to the Church for this assistance. Bishop Robert Thompson, a member of the Board, has been the link between the School Board and the Church on this important matter, and we are especially grateful to Bishop Thompson for his leadership in this regard.
The Ministry of Education sent a team to carry out an inspection of Kingston College between January 25 and 27, 2011. We await the full report of the inspection team (which I understand will also be placed on the Ministry’s website), but the school has already benefitted from having to prepare a self-assessment. Members of the school community have also been called upon to report on aspects of their stewardship, a procedure which is beneficial to all concerned. The preliminary report of the inspectorate suggests that the overall performance of the school is satisfactory, but some areas require improvement. In the latter category the inspectors have indicated to the acting Principal that some teaching methodologies do not make full use of available technology. With respect to Mathematics, the inspectors found that the school’s performance was well above national and regional averages; however, when compared with the expected performance of the grade cohort from the GSAT examination, the school did not add much value to the group. These issues and others will need to be taken up by the Board when the formal report is received.
The School Plant
Appointment of Mr. Robert Kelly. The Board has given attention to the state of the Kingston College plant. In this regard, the most important recent development has been the selection of Mr. Robert Kelly as the Plant Supervisor for the school. Mr. Kelly, a distinguished Old Boy who has been a central figure in the development and restoration of Kingston College, will be responsible to the Principal for the state of the school. The position of Plant Supervisor was advertised, approximately 60 applications were received, and a panel of the Board interviewed four shortlisted candidates.
Melbourne Sixth Form Block. The Melbourne Sixth Form Block (on the second floor) had no barrier to prevent serious accidents in the area of the outer balcony. On the basis of an Old Boy’s contribution of J$100,000, and contribution from the school, an outer railing has now been put in place. Work continues on this area, in order to ensure that the Sixth Form block does not remain a place of risk to students at Melbourne Park. Mr. Kelly has been instrumental in implementing this project.
North Street Science Laboratory. Mr. Kelly has also been instrumental in helping us to move forward with work on the Science Laboratory at North Street. To date, extensive renovations and painting have been completed with respect to the Chemistry Laboratory. I hope that these improvements, which are much appreciated by teaching staff and students, will continue upstairs to the Biology and Physics Labs. Further work is also to be done in the Chemistry Lab. The Science Laboratory project is funded by the Kingston College Old Boys’ Association (through different chapters) and by the school in the type of collaboration that can only redound to the benefit of our students. The KCOBA has so far contributed more than J$300,000 to this project.
The Nurse’s Quarters at North Street. A new room has been set aside for the Nurse’s Quarters at North Street. This room has been renovated in large part by contributions from the Old Boys in the “KC 69ers” (approximately J$60,000) and the school. With the relocation and renovation of the Nurse’s Quarters, one source of complaint about the school is being addressed in a positive manner. KC 69ers, including Mr. Clinton Watson, have helped to coordinate work on this project.
The North Street Pavilion. The KC Old Boys’ Association (Miami Chapter), under the guidance of Mr. Audley Hewitt and his colleagues, has undertaken to fund the renovation and restoration of the Pavilion at North Street. The costs for this project are estimated at US$70,000. Mr. Hewitt has indicated that almost all of this has now been raised. Of this sum, US$50,000 has been contributed by the Rujohn Foundation, led by Byron Bachelor, an Old Boy, and Mr. Bachelor’s family. The funding from the Rujohn Foundation comes ultimately from the NBA and NFL of the USA (donations by players).
Science Laboratory and Music Room at Melbourne Plant. A group of KC Old Boys (noted as “the medical group” by Dr. Ray Fraser, President of the local chapter of the KCOBA) has contributed approximately J$700,000 to the school for various plant improvements at Melbourne Park. This contribution is to be used for the refurbishment of the Science Laboratory, the Music Room and other activities.
Water Supply at North Street. Members of the KC 69ers have collaborated with the Miami Chapter of the Old Boys Association to work in the improvement of the water supply at North Street. So far, approximately J$200,000 has been spent on installing pumps and tanks to facilitate the delivery of water to the Science and Administrative Blocks. In the second phase of this project, storage facilities are to be put in place for water to be delivered to the rest of the school. This is expected to be completed in a matter of weeks.
The Douglas Forrest Building. The Board has asked a member, Lt. Col. Oscar Derby, to co-ordinate aspects of our work concerning the expansion of the Douglas Forrest Building. Lt. Col. Derby, working with Old Boys Douglas Stiebel, Hopeton Jones and others, will be working with members of the Board’s Building Committee (chaired by Mr. Patrick McIntosh) to ensure that the appropriate arrangements are made in respect of the expansion. I hope to present more concrete news on this project in the near future.
Some Other Infrastructural Matters. Projects concerning the main entrance at North Street, the Chapel Gardens, and refurbishment of the cricket nursery, are at different stages of development. Hopeton Jones, Douglas Stiebel and others have also contributed to certain repairs to the roof of the Chapel.
The local Chapter of the Old Boys’ Association has organized a notable programme of events for Founders’ Week Celebrations, April 10-16, 2011, to celebrate Kingston College at 86. Among other things, there will be a Thanksgiving Service, a Mentorship Day, the Bishop Gibson Lecture (to be given by Bishop Don Taylor), Fortis Day, and a Grand Founders’ Day Party.
Spelling Bee Competition
The acting Principal has reported that Gifton Wright, a Grade 7 student who is the Spelling Bee parish champion for Kingston, has placed 4th in the National Spelling Bee Competition.
Schools’ Challenge Quiz Team
The Schools’ Challenge Quiz Team has now progressed to the quarter-final round of the competition, following a strong performance earlier this week against Excelsior. KC won the match 68 to 23. The team is being coached mainly by Messrs. Valmore Stewart and Jeffrey Foreman. Dr. Patrick Dallas, Mr. Seymour Douglas and several other Old Boys, teachers, parents and friends have contributed to the programme in various ways.
The Board has approved in principle the placement of a container at an appropriate place on the Melbourne Park campus for use by the cadet corps.
Mr. Glen Laman of the Atlanta Chapter of the Old Boys’ Association and his colleagues have embarked upon a computer lab project for the school. Mr. Laman has been in direct contact with the acting Principal, and I very much hope that we will be hearing about the fruits of this collaborative effort in the near future.
Mr. Audley Hewitt is organizing a tag drive effort mainly among students to raise funds (target: J$2 million) to assist in the restoration of the Pavilion, if needed, and in other school projects. Various methods of stimulating student participation, including prizes for the best performance among different Forms, are being contemplated for the tag drive.
This has been a period of remarkably strong activity on the part of some Old Boys of the school, many of whom have come to their tasks with a determination to bring about practical, day-to-day improvements in the lives of Kingston College students. I have not named many of those working in the fields, but my gratitude goes out to everyone. The Board, teachers and other members of staff have also been active, though, to be sure, there are areas in which we may all improve. Kingston College has been, and will always be a work in progress. It is also a work of progress: progress in ensuring the success of students regardless of their social origins.