June 18. About three months have elapsed since the time of my last message, and so, I write to report on some of the main activities concerning Kingston College that have been addressed, or have been brought to the attention of the School Board. Before proceeding, I note with much sadness that the Revd. Canon Dr. John McNab, Kingston College Principal from 1974 to 1978, passed away on March 17, 2011. Canon McNab served as Principal during the period when Kingston College had its notorious fire, and is perhaps best remembered for his dedication to duty, moral fibre and his ability to rally the school almost literally from the ashes. Canon McNab, who was ordained by Bishop Percival Gibson in 1957, will remain in our memories.
Selection of Principal
The Board has been concerned with the appointment of a suitable Principal for the school. As I pointed out in my March 2010 message, more than 20 candidates responded to advertisements placed in the Gleaner, the Observer, the KC Times, and by dissemination through Old Boys, the Anglican Church and members of staff. A Committee of the Board prepared a shortlist of five candidates on the basis of a review of qualifications and experience of the applicants, and this shortlist was approved by the full Board. Thereafter, the full Board, the acting Principal and Vice-Principals had the opportunity to meet with the five shortlisted candidates at a function organized and sponsored by Board Member Dr. Hugh Vaughan, on April 11, 2011.
On the following day, the full board undertook hour-long interviews with each of the five candidates. Each applicant was given the opportunity to present his vision for Kingston College, and to respond to questions from Board members about aspects of that vision and on a wide variety of other issues. On the basis of these interviews, the Board prepared a further shortlist of two candidates, and interviewed these two candidates in greater detail on April 20, 2011. The Board then sent its recommendation as to the most suitable person for the position to the Lord Bishop of Jamaica, the Rt. Revd. Alfred Reid. The procedure for selection requires approval by the Lord Bishop and consideration and approval by the Teachers’ Services Commission.
The field of candidates was quite competitive, and the Board is grateful to all the applicants who presented themselves for consideration. We hope that the person selected will have the determination, commitment and clarity of vision and thought to lift Kingston College to greater heights; the Board was also particularly mindful that the Principal will have to demonstrate the capacity to inspire more than 1900 students while undertaking the rather complex task of keeping the different, and often vocal, Kingston College stakeholders positively disposed to the school and its efforts. We anticipate that the Principal will be appointed by or before the start of the Academic Year 2011/2012. Personally, I wish to thank the Board Members who have addressed the matter of selecting the Principal of Kingston College with utmost seriousness, and have devoted long hours to the process. I also wish to thank the numerous Old Boys and the members of staff who have suggested possible candidates and have not been reluctant to express views on prospective and actual candidates.
The Pavilion. Work has proceeded on the renovation of the Pavilion at North Street, and is now reported to be approximately 75% complete. By the end of the project, more than J$4 million will have been spent on providing a secure, safe and presentable environment for coaches and students as we prepare for various sporting competitions. Most of the funding for this project – in the order of US$50,000 – has been secured for the school by Old Boy Byron Bachelor, through the RuJohn Foundation. The Florida Chapter of the Old Boys Association, and in particular, Audley Hewitt, has worked on securing the funding and in timely disbursement. Within Jamaica, Messrs. Kelly, Stiebel, Jones and Robinson, together with others, have worked to ensure the implementation of the project.
The Field at North Street. The Board has approved a proposal to have a fence constructed around the field at North Street. This will reduce day-to-day access to the field and allow the school to have a field which will not be the cause of injury to students in the course of football, athletics and other sports. It is hoped that the fencing will be completed before the start of the new Academic Year. There are other plans afoot in relation to the field: it is hoped that we will have the means to ensure that the field has a constant supply of water, and that the flow of water on to the field will be regulated during heavy rainfall. Expenditure in relation to the field is estimated to be in excess of J$2 million.
The Science Block. Work on the Chemistry Laboratory is reasonably well-advanced, but there has been a delay arising from the need to import faucet and sinks. These have arrived in Jamaica, and so, the work will resume shortly. It is anticipated that, following completion of the renovation of the Chemistry Laboratory, we will turn attention to the Biology and Physics Laboratories shortly thereafter. Teachers have indicated that certain repairs to the Biology Laboratory need to be made immediately, and steps are being taken to address this request.
Staff Room.As a matter of priority, we will need to repair the leaking roof of the Staff Room at North Street, and ensure that teachers have a reasonable environment in which to work.
Melbourne Park. The project to place a railing on the upper floor of the Sixth Form block at Melbourne Park has been completed. A container has been acquired through the work of certain teachers, parents and well-wishers, for use by the Cadet Corps, but efforts now need to be undertaken to ensure that the container is placed at a point on the Melbourne Campus that does not create challenges. Decisions are to be made by the Acting Principal, the Vice Principal and staff members in relation to the location of the Music and Drama Rooms at Melbourne. The Music Room is to be made soundproof. I have asked that three sleeping policemen be placed on the asphalted area from the entrance to Melbourne to the gate within the premises to promote safety, and this has been approved by the Board. Members of the Fortis Pavilion group have organized a work day for Melbourne Park which will take place this weekend: the Board notes this activity, and hopes that it will give Melbourne a much needed facelift.
The Canteen (Melbourne and North Street).The Board has approved, in principle, that a private firm may be invited to assume responsibility for the provision of canteen facilities at both Melbourne Park and North Street. This concession, if granted, will be in return for an assured annual sum of money to Kingston College. A sub-committee of the Board is working on this matter, and we hope that final decisions can be made shortly. The concession, if granted, would also involve renovation of the canteen on both campuses.
The Front Gate at North Street. The entrance to Kingston College does not reflect that majesty of the school. Dr. Ray Fraser, President of the KCOBA’s local chapter, has shown the Board a model for the creation of a new entrance to the North Street campus. Efforts have been underway to have the Ministry of Education provide funding for the new entrance, but so far, they have borne no fruit.
Windows.The Board has been talking about using the Kingston College Trust Fund for the repair of windows at North Street for at least six months. An application has been made to the Trust Fund for the sum of J$2 million for assistance in this regard. We hope that this application will bear fruit.
In the period under review, I have been struck by the special power and significance of two events related to Kingston College. In the first place, the school held its Founders’ Day Service on Sunday, April 10, 2011. The Lord Bishop of Jamaica, the Right Revd. Alfred Reid gave a profoundly moving sermon which prompted us all to consider how we may contribute to the moral and spiritual improvement of the society. In tones reminiscent of Bishop Gibson, Bishop Reid reminded us of the special role of Kingston College in the country, and urged us to lead lives which place value on truth, dignity and Christian charity. The function was organized by the local Chapter of the Old Boys Association; we were guided by the Revd. Abner Powell, the Chaplain, and following the service, the stalwarts present were invited to have lunch on the lawn facing the main block of the school.
The other function which resonated powerfully for me was the inaugural Bishop Gibson Lecture, delivered on April 13, 2011, by Bishop E. Don Taylor, former Principal of Kingston College, former Bishop of New York, and current Rector of the Kingston Parish Church. Bishop Taylor gave us a vivid account of his life at Kingston College, and urged the gathering of mainly Fifth and Sixth Formers to be steadfast in their efforts to overcome adversity. Bishop Taylor emphasized that “if KC fails, Jamaica fails”, and shared Bishop Reid’s vision of a community of upright men emerging from Kingston College today, in much the way that many have emerged in the past. Senior scribe H.G. Helps has written a detailed report on the lecture for the Jamaica Observer.
Fifth and Sixth Form Students have now completed examinations for this year. I very much hope that they will do well for their own personal development, and to help uplift the school community as a whole. On behalf of the Board, I wish to assure all students leaving Kingston College, that we wish them all the best in their future endeavours.
As I write, it is being reported that Kingston College has won the ISSA Under 14 South Basketball Conference Competition. Congratulations to the team (captained by Jakeem Robinson), coaches, Old Boys and others – including Richard Lindsay, Marlon Nattie, Winston Harvey and Dennis Thompson -- who helped to bring yet another victory to the school.
Congratulations must also be offered to the large and determined group of Old Boys and students, led by Valmore Stewart, Jeffrey Foreman and Patrick Dallas, for our convincing victory in the Schools’ Challenge Quiz Competition, the tenth overall, and the second in three years. The team members – Roland Douglas, Alain N’dalla, Maurice Brown, and Jahmall Bernard prevailed in a manner that should make us all truly proud. I also offer my congratulations to the Choir, its leaders and organizers, for flying the banner of Kingston College to glory in recent months: the Choir was inspirational at the Founders’ Day Service, and national reports have sung their praises in relation to events such as the Bank of Jamaica Recital.
Finally, I also wish to congratulate the members of the Track and Field team for putting up a valiant fight in the Boys’ Championship for 2011. It is a tribute to the Kingston College spirit that some Old Boys were busy suggesting that our failure to take the ultimate prize was a sign that the sky had fallen upon us. But, though we want to win everything, we must be balanced in our assessments: we did not take Champs this year, but our task must be to put in place measures to move from the number two position, back to the pinnacle. And if we fall, we know we will not yield.
Fortis Cadere Cedere Non Potest.
Stephen Vasciannie (1971-present)