The long line of cars on North Street attempting to enter the Clovelly Park campus of Kingston College indicated that something important, certainly something unusual for a Wednesday evening, was happening this day. I abandoned the car being driven by my work colleague after deciding it was futile to attempt to enter the campus by vehicle and find parking. As I closed the car door behind me, I told my friend that she should come back in about two hours to fetch me as the proceedings would have been “long done by then”.
This was a little after six; I did not leave KC that day until nearly midnight, at which point the proceedings were nowhere near finished!! December 11, 2013 was the day on which elections were held for the slate of directors to guide the affairs of the Kingston College Old Boys Association for the next three years. But so much more than merely an election happened that Wednesday evening, night and into to the early morning hours of Thursday.
I arrived to a campus packed with what seemed like thousands of old boys. Some were old boys in the most obvious sense of the word and some were so young, having left KC two or three years before, that to call them “old” in any way would be stretching the meaning of the word a bit too far. Observing the numbers, I immediately called my friend and told her that she should abandon our plans for later that night, for clearly I was going to be at KC for much longer than two hours. The numbers also told me that many more old boys than normal had become engaged and were now paying attention, at least temporarily, to the work and administration of the KCOBA. This development can only be to the ultimate benefit of our beloved school.
As with any gathering of KC old boys, the event and interactions were naturally lively and spirited. There were many loud greetings and conversations, as old boys who had not seen this or that brother for ages began to reconnect. I came face to face with classmates I had not seen for more than a decade and as soon as we began to talk it was as if no time had passed.
The stories about our days as students were many, often embarrassing, and above all, hilarious to relive. However, in the midst of all the fun and good cheer there were serious discussions about the direction of Kingston College and the role of the KCOBA in helping to craft and direct the future of the school. We were, after all, brought together that Wednesday evening by a vigorously fought election campaign. The campaign teams for the various slates must be thanked for going all out to engage as many old boys as possible.
In this way, the election campaign was clearly a success. Many old boys were keen on talking about the visible improvements to the school and the work of our still new principal, Mr. Dave Myrie. It is my belief, having had the opportunity of working with Mr. Myrie that in him our school has found the energetic manager it has lacked for too many years; other old boys seemed to share this opinion.
There are some things that the new executive must aim to do better. Others have commented before that democracy is a naturally messy process and this may well be true under normal circumstances. However, our election was simply too messy. Ultimately, Team Dallas won the election convincingly by dint of excellent organization and boldness; for instance, the tent that they set up to serve soup was most appreciated by many voters. Team Dallas seemed to have read the situation correctly, did its canvassing and got its voters out in their numbers on election night.
The challenge for Team Dallas now is to bring a similar level of organization to the work and direction of the KCOBA. They must ensure for instance that in the future, there is clarity about who is entitled to vote in elections and that there is a process of registering such entitled voters well in advance of polling. This will ensure that future elections will not be marred by the confusion of having more persons wishing to participate in the plebiscite than the number of previously prepared ballots.
In the aftermath of the election, Team Dallas is also charged with healing whatever wounds may have resulted from the intense election campaign. On election night I was faced with a very difficult decision. In my capacity as a coach of the Schools’ Challenge Quiz team, I have had the privilege of working with no less than three of the major contenders for the leadership of the KCOBA; Allen, Dallas and Kelly. I have found them all to be utterly committed to the cause of advancing the interests of KC and I have been the recipient of assistance from all three. It would be most unfortunate if the KCOBA were to lose the benefit of the energies and expertise of any of them. Keeping all those old boys who showed up for the election engaged and working with the KCOBA must also be a top priority for the new leadership.
The work of building and developing KC is ongoing; I look forward to seeing how the new team in charge of the KCOBA contributes to this work. I am, as always, convinced that the future is bright and that it is a FORTIS future.