September 2022 Volume 18


Professor Stephen Vasciannie
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Throughout most of his life, Kingsley Mitchell has been known to many simply as “Screechy”.  The origins and exegesis of the name seem lost within the mists of history, but for the generation of KC boys who entered the College in the early 1970s, the term “Screechy” as an adjective, noun or verb has come to denote only one man in the world.

A mutual friend -- who was and remains a great admirer of Screechy -- once asked me what the name connoted and regarded it as a matter of great hilarity that I could not offer an unequivocal explanation for the ubiquitous nomenclature.  She could understand self-explanatory titles offered to “Staf” (Ray Stafford), “Pint” (Oliver Smith) and “Sala” (Calvin Solomon); how, though, could “Screechy” be distilled from Kingsley I. Mitchell?

 Job Done

After about a half century of reflection, I think I have an element of the answer.  Screechy is not a nonce word: it was not coined for a special occasion; nor is it a derivative, drawn from one of the Shakespearean or Miltonian verses oft quoted by Kingsley.  Rather, the soubriquet depicts an honourable state of being. Screechy is the man who gets the job done without undue fanfare.  He succeeds without fluffy exhibitionism.  He has enthusiasm but no braggadocio.  He excels and achieves without calling down the attention of the cheering crowds. He is quietly perceptive and, above all, measures up to effortless superiority in intellectual matters.

Now the scope of Screechy’s effortless superiority bears elaboration.  To begin with, it does not automatically extend to sporting prowess.  On the cricket field, for instance, Screechy was famous for high, looping, elastic deliveries that owed more to concentration than to penetration.  Meanwhile, on the track, Screechy did not come into his own until he graduated from KC and migrated north from North Street to Mona. 

During UWI’s Freshers’ Week 1978 he donned his three-quarter shorts and North Star track shoes and joined Taylor Hall’s elite Ring Road Relay Team.  Suffice it to recall that Screechy’s pocket rocket start for the first 100 meters along the Ring Road was not replicated in the latter 900 meters of the race.  This gave rise to the inverse of a record-breaking performance and prompted the heretical thought that the brave may come last, but never yield.

Academic Work

Screechy’s superiority in academic work was discernible from first form days, as he pressed forward diligently, powerfully and systematically, sometimes secretly studying on the top floor of what was then the newest, still unoccupied, three-storey building at Melbourne Park.  He taught himself chess by reading about it in French in the school textbook, Le Francais d’Aujourd’hui.  He lived for Literature issuing philosophical observations and a medium-range guffaw when exposed to “The Royal Nonesuch” scam in Twain's Huckleberry Finn.  Likewise, he could scarcely suppress his laughter when he came upon the Orwellian calculus that although all animals are equal some are more equal than others.

Not surprisingly, Screechy emerged from his Cantabrigian “O” Level battles unscathed and with a large package of leading grades.  For his “A” Level engagement, he combined the practicality of Economics with the world view of the historian and the sensitivity of the literary specialist.  He placed himself among the philosophes. When KC slipped at Champs, Screechy and E.K. Scott led the pronouncement: “What though the field be lost? All is not lost”.  More generally, in the Sixth Form years, he comfortably combined Ms.  Marlene Campbell’s concepts of diminishing marginal utility and indifference curves with Mrs. Thompson’s French Revolution and Mrs. Marjorie Brown’s reflections on the West Indian Apprenticeship System.

Examiners’ Report

Nowadays, some advocates talk about reparations to black people for enslavement in the Caribbean as if the idea emerged at some time after the year 2000.  Truth be known, Screechy’s Lower Sixth Form class in 1977 was already in the midst of that debate, with diametrically opposed views on offer concerning who should have received the 20 million pounds in 1834.

This too was the time of the UWI Scholarship Examination: having read the Examiners’ Report on Economics for the previous year, Screechy used the dry sarcasm of Muriel in Animal Farm deftly to point out that the UWI lecturers expected high school students trained in Neoclassical Economics to demonstrate advanced knowledge of Marxist dialectical materialism. His sociological acumen also caused him to wonder publicly whether Manley’s concept of a Ministry of National Mobilization was plausible in a cultural environment which was sceptical of, if not impervious to, the presumed magic of “mobilization”.

Quiz Bouncers

Then there was the Schools’ Challenge Quiz.  Screechy became, by dint of hard work, one of the main Sixth Form assistants (in 1977 and 1978) in the quiz programme directed by Mrs. Frances Coke.  He was a quiz pace bowler throwing down bouncers in General Knowledge, History, the Arts and obscurities in science that only Charlton Collie and Maurice Haynes could approach. Geography -- for some reason related to the Wyatt Earp chronicles at KC -- was an area of specialization. The typical Screechy question: how high in feet is the Catherine’s Peak in the Saint Andrew hills and what is its exact longitude? Whenever Screechy’s new questions came down, the batting average of the quiz team declined significantly, often prompting Maurice Matthie to intone, “Wha dat, Rodney, a wha dat?”

At UWI, Mona, Screechy excelled in his BSc (Management Studies) degree, calmly expounding on Schumpeterian Economics, marveling at the pedagogy of the lecturer who rode a tricycle in class (“Ride Natty Ride”) and confidently tackling Ramjeesingh's mathematical offerings.  He took to Uriel Salmon’s Accounting which opened the way to a long-term career in auditing in New York City, a career which has brought him fulfillment and at least one laundry in return for his commitment.

New York

After leaving UWI, he worked briefly at the Income Tax Department and then at Jamaica Public Service Company.  In 1982, Kingsley and all his siblings migrated to the USA.   Here, he ran into Norman Scott (“Scotty”), who happened to live almost directly opposite his home. Scotty introduced him to the KCOBA in New York, and he joined the Board as a volunteer. 
Of course, he entertained another challenging quiz question to the KCOBA Board: what is the IRS Form 1023?  Well, as the experts report, Form 1023 is a United States IRS tax form, also known as the Application for Recognition of Exemption under the Internal Revenue Code. It is filed by non-profits to get exemption status. Although appropriately incorporated, the KCOBA lacked a proper tax exemption status.
So, Kingsley worked tirelessly with the then Treasurer, Errol Lecky, with a helping hand from Scotty and lawyer, Ray McKenzie, to assist the organization in achievement of its tax-exempt status and later served as the Treasurer from 1996 to 1999 (See Errol Lecky’s note below). Kingsley continued to assist the KCOBA long after his tenure on the Board ended.


In the USA, Kingsley furthered his education and achieved an MBA degree (accounting major) at The Bernard Baruch College in 1987.  During his final year at Baruch, Kingsley passed all parts of the Certified Public Accountancy (CPA) exam in one sitting, a feat accomplished by fewer than 20 percent of all candidates.  He subsequently joined the accounting firm Touche Ross, which later became, via merger, Deloitte, one of the Big Four accounting organizations and the largest professional services network in the world by revenue and number of professionals.
At Deloitte, Kingsley progressed rapidly from a junior staff auditor to audit manager and eventually transitioned to managing the financial reporting and analysis arm of the Firm’s Systems Integration consulting practice. During his more than 30-year tenure at Deloitte, Kingsley assisted in the Firm’s digital transformation.  He exercised a calculated and methodical approach to problem-solving and won praises from colleagues and superiors.

Puns in Flight?

Screechy, a dedicated source of family strength, inspires loyalty and laughter.  He is a kind man of integrity who treads softly, as recommended in Yeats’ Cloths of Heaven.  He can regale us with stories about Cardinal’s Spitfire (loved by all, save perhaps Cardinal). He guided numerous students to success at UWI in their final examinations especially those who needed an extra push with a joke on the tail of the effort.  His puns, always in full supply, are never predictable.

And, finally, in addition to the mystery concerning the etymology of the name “Screechy”, Kingsley has prompted a second question that has endured for almost 50 years.  Did Screechy actually climb the railing on the second floor of the main building at North Street (by the Staff Room) and jump to the ground? Flying like Bedward?  Or Icarus?  Or as our unique brother, Kingsley.

Stephen Vasciannie



Errol Lecky adds this note to his friend and colleague:

“There are three types of people in this world. Those who:

  • Make things happen,
  • Watch things happen,
  • Ask what happened.

When it comes to your school, you belong to the first group.

Even though you were on the Board in 1988, it was not until 1990, when applying for Tax Exempt status that you were fully challenged.  We needed to answer the IRS Questions correctly as regards our Fiduciary responsibilities and that’s when you and Ray McKenzie came into play.  Ray told us how to answer the questions and told us tax data required by the IRS (going back to 1982) had to be submitted, within 2 weeks.

I handed over the spread sheets to you going back to 1982. That’s when our Accounting Standards was formalized by you, and it’s still a mystery how you so adequately prepared data, going back to 1982, with only one figure questioned by the IRS: the amount spent on operating expenses. The IRS was satisfied with our explanation and even spelled out our relationships with other groups in our By Laws. 

We met the required Tax Filings for the 3-year probationary period (1991 to 1994) and were granted full Tax-Exempt Status in 1994.  Our Audit was 32 years ago and the IRS have never bothered us again. Our Tax-Exempt Status has paid great dividends and is the heart and soul of our operations. Think of the hundreds of thousands brought in for The Douglas Forrest Building and the Library Technology Upgrade Project and the Science Labs Repair and Upgrade Project, where Alumni were willing to write big checks, knowing that their gift will not be questioned. That’s your legacy. Ask Perry, he knows what has been accomplished.

I served 22 years from 1984 to 2006, with you as Treasurer for three years, but I don’t recall exactly which years. I look at what you contributed rather than how long you served. I still recall the several trips you and Scottie made to my home to sort out the records.

Thanks for time well served. That’s what makes our contribution worthwhile.

 Errol Lecky

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