The event got off to a reasonably timely start at approximately 8:30 pm on a pleasant November Saturday night by Toronto standards, meaning above seasonal temperature. It is likely that our visiting friends from Jamaica would use a different adjective to describe the temperature outside, but there was no denying that the atmosphere inside Saints Peter and Paul Banquet Hall was warm with a decent turn out of several hundred old boys, friends and supporters of Kingston College, including a strong KCOBA New York contingent led by President Rainford “Perry” Bloomfield.
Master of Ceremonies, K. Churchill Neita, QC, set the tone immediately after being introduced by Oliver Lopez, by displaying his self deprecating humour and wit in his opening remarks. At the conclusion of the national anthems of Jamaica and Canada rendered by Lee-Anne Lyon-Bradley and the delivery of the grace by KCOB Rev. Dr. Clive Belnavis, the gathering enjoyed a sumptuous three-course meal featuring generous servings of grilled boneless breast of chicken and broiled filet of salmon complimented by a choice of red or white wine.
During the meal, saxophonist Dave McLaughlin, entertained the gathering with a series of timeless classics including stirring renditions of Bob Marley’s anthem, “One Love” and the opening number “At Last” made famous at Beyonce’s serenade to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the presidential inauguration ball in January 2009.
The highlight of the formal aspect of the evening was undoubtedly the presentation of the President’s award to long serving and outstanding Kingston College chemistry teacher, Mrs. Opal Branche. KCOB Dr. Reginald Smith, a former student of Mrs. Branche, introduced the award recipient, by emphasising that his success in his chosen profession as a bio-chemist was due in large part to the teaching skills of Mrs. Branche and the engaging manner in which she taught chemistry. His remark that Mrs. Branche was “first married to KC” before actually marrying her husband received a rousing applause.
President Lawrence Prendergast, himself a former student of Mrs. Branche, presented the award to the honouree. The inscription read “In recognition of your dedicated service to Kingston College over the past 38 years”. In her brief reply, Mrs. Branche expressed her gratitude to the association for bestowing her with the honour and thanked those in attendance for being part of the occasion. She modestly noted that her greatest satisfaction was derived from any success of her former students that may be attributed to her influence. The long list of her former students reads like a virtual “who is who” in science and technology both in Jamaica and in the Diaspora and includes a number of current university professors in chemistry as highlighted in the well written biographical piece, appearing in the souvenir journal, authored by two of her former students Drs. Patrick Dallas and Cedric Lazarus respectively.
Throughout, MC Neita kept the proceedings moving along interspersed with timely quips and hilarious jokes, often at the expense of his legal profession. It was fair to assume that the subtlety of his jokes was undoubtedly influenced by the presence of the fairer sex. President Prendergast delivered a brief address in which he implored the old boys present to continue to remain engaged and encouraged others to support the association in its mission to raise funds for the school.
The formalities were brought to a close with the vote of thanks moved by Vice-President Clive Golding. The Vice-President used the opportunity to recognize the presence of other alumni associations including a strong contingent representing our North Street brothers, St. Georges College led by immediate past President Milton Hart.
DJ, Eugene Chang, a Calabar Old Boy, opened the dance floor with a few “oldies” and kept the crowd moving until the wee hours of the morning, ending a successful Kingston College Old Boys’ Association event with broad support from the wider Jamaican community in Toronto. The local newspaper, Share, featured the event as the cover story in the November 10th edition of their weekly publication. The article also appeared in their online edition at http://www.sharenews.com/local-news/2011/11/11/kc-old-boys-shower-praise-former-chemistry-teacher.