KCOBA USA Inc. 8th Annual Panel Presentation and Awards

George B. Bell
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Thursday, March 30th, 2017 was the 3rd day of ‘Champs’, but more importantly, it was the date of KCOBA USA Inc. 8 th annual Panel Presentation & Awards ceremony, which was held in the St. Augustine chapel at North Street.

As customary, KCOBA (USA) and other Old Boys, family and friends joined our scholarship recipients (now 74), and the members of the Joyce Baxter Maths Club for an afternoon of fellowship and celebration. The occasion honors all the scholarship recipients and members of the Joyce Baxter Maths Club by awarding prizes to the top performers and most improved students.

The gathering was warmly greeted by the vivacious guidance counselor, Mrs. Marvia Wilson, who introduced Mr. Chad Hayles (scholarship recipient & Grade 12 student) to do the prayer. Mrs. Wilson subsequently invited the principal, Mr. Dave Myrie, to address the assembly. Principal Myrie promptly reminded the audience that our beloved Kingston College was not about winning ‘Champs’, it was about producing well-rounded young men who are solid citizen. He emphasized that we are a family, and we need to take care of all members of the family.

The principal was followed by Mr. Rainford ‘Perry’ Bloomfield, president of KCOBA USA Inc. President Bloomfield extended greetings from the association, and he declared that there is ‘no free lunch’. He stated that the association and its donors are extremely motivated to invest in the future of the scholarship recipients in particular, and the students of KC, in general. President Bloomfield formally invited the panelists to the table.

Members of the panel were: Mr. Whylie Chambers (Founding member of KCOBA – ATLANTA); Mr. Keith Daley (Basketball Coach – KC & USA); Mr. Maurice Fisher (scholarship recipient & 3rd Year medical student at the UWI); Mr. Everton Howell (1st VP, KCOBA USA); Mr. Alvadio Golding (former scholarship recipient & KCOBA USA BOD); and Mr. Dwayne Montaque (CPA – USA & KCOBA USA BOD).

For the first time, present students were welcomed as members of the panel: Mr. Rodgay Campbell (grade 13 scholarship recipient, senior prefect, and recently accepted to the UWI to do Applied Chemistry); Mr. Malik Thompson (grade 12 scholarship recipient); and Mr. Lawrence Grant (grade 11 scholarship recipient).

The senior panelists spoke on a range of issues. Interestingly enough, a couple of them spoke on the topic of brotherhood and family, which echoed Principal Myrie’s message from earlier. The students were asked to seek out mentors and develop a spirit of giving back. They were also implored to capitalize on the opportunity afforded to them by the scholarships. For this writer, the student panelists’ presentations were most impactful. At least two of the three students on the panel were from single parent (mother) homes.

One student, in particular, spoke eloquently about how being on the scholarship allowed his mom to do more for him and his siblings at home. He stated that the money saved from tuition was available at home to buy food and take care of basic needs. These scholarships, undoubtedly, impact the lives of these students well beyond the walls of Kingston College. This knowledge continues to fuel the passion of the association to sustain and grow this scholarship program.

One hundred percent (100%) of our scholarship recipients graduate; and Eighty-Five percent (85%) matriculate to tertiary institutions in Jamaica and abroad. If we recognize that many of these kids would have fallen out of the system without the help of these scholarships, it imperative that we all ensure that the program remains strong. Accordingly, we invite more of our Fortis brothers and their families and friends to come on board and help us to help our younger brothers at Kingston College. Additionally, individuals who have benefitted from the scholarship must reinvest in the program.

After the Panel presentation and questions, the group was treated to musical items from the Kingston College Band. Mrs. Watson then took the podium and commenced the awards portion of the afternoon. The awards serve two folds: one, they reward the top performers from both groups (Scholarship and the Baxter Math Club); and two, they recognize the most improved student from both groups.

The award winners and prizes are as follow:

· Mr. Ronaldino Bennett (Scholarship – Top Average) – he received a laptop and a cash prize;

· Mr. Shamar Jones (Scholarship – Most Improved) – he received a tablet and a cash prize;

· Mr. Jevonnie Fennell (Baxter Maths Club – Top student) – he received a laptop and a cash prize; and

· Mr. Malike Orane (Baxter Maths Club – Most Improved) – he received a tablet and a cash prize)

In addition, the three student members of the panel were each presented with a tablet for their contribution to the afternoon proceedings. Some students, who participated in the questions and answer section of the program, were impromptu presented with cash prizes. Thanks to Ms. Bernadette Atkinson (ardent supporter of KC), who was very busy handing out cash-laden envelopes.

The vote of thanks was done by Mr. Malik Thompson, who specifically singled out Mrs. Watson for selecting him as a potential candidate for the scholarship program. Mr. Thompson was the first and only person to earn a scholarship while in grade 7. Now he is a very promising grade 12 student, who is a champion debater for KC. There are many ‘Maliks’ at our institution, and we must give them the chance to realize their dreams.

The formal part of the afternoon ended, and everyone relocated to a tent next door for food and festivity. The afternoon was well spent, and a thank you must go out to all the sponsors of the prizes, the scholarship administrators, and the organizers of the event. Thank you to all the family and friends who came and shared the afternoon with our scholarship recipients and Maths club members. Additionally, all the overseas fortisians who took the time out to support the event must be commended.

Thank you all. See you next year as we strive to make the event even greater than this year. For those who can make it, KCOBA USA Inc. 34 th Annual Reunion & Awards Dinner is scheduled for Saturday, May 6th, 2017 in Queens, New York. Fortis Forever!!!

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