February 2012 Volume 9

New Year’s Message 2012 - Stephen Vasciannie, Board Chairman

Professor Stephen Vasciannie
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This has been a calendar year of much success for Kingston College.  Some students at the CAPE and CSEC levels flourished in their examinations.  For the former, the logical step was, in several instances, to proceed to Universities in Jamaica and elsewhere.  And for the latter, success meant onward movement to Grade 12, where unprecedented numbers have gained access to higher studies.

At the School's Prize-giving Exercises, these high-performing students, and others who did well in internal examinations, were commended and encouraged to higher levels of achievement by Acting Principal Everton Burrell, Guest Speaker, distinguished Old Boy K. Churchill Neita Q.C., members of staff and other Kingston College well-wishers.

Prize-giving provides an opportunity for the School community to celebrate the excellence, diligence and consistency of its students, and to encourage others to reach for the academic and extra-curricular heights.  It is a special occasion for the School as a whole, and this year's exercises, held at the Holy Trinity Cathedral on November 29, was no exception.

I was pleased to present, among others, the Chairman's Award for Best CAPE Results to Jean-Mark Davis of 12 Science (Unit 1) and to Daimion Jackson of 13 Science (Unit 2).  The Principal's Award for Best CSEC Results went to Jonathan Ononiwu of 11 Forrest.   Several prizes, donated by various Chapters of the Kingston College Old Boys Association, the Parent-Teachers Association and the Fortis Pavilion, were awarded for all aspects of School life and all levels.  Mr. Linton Lewis ("Poo") from the ancillary staff received a Special Award of Appreciation from the School Administration.

Choir, Sports, Quiz
I have deliberately started this message with the School's Prize-Giving as this represents acknowledgement of the highest levels of achievement at our alma mater.  But there have been other highpoints.  In the course of the year, the Kingston College Chapel Choir has continued to move from strength to strength.  Once again, under the guidance of conductor Audley Davidson, and with support from the hard-working Chapel Choir Committee, the Choir had audiences spellbound at performances of three Christmas Concerts, at the UWI Chapel, Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church and the St. James Parish Church. 

In other extra-curricular ventures, the performance of the Manning Cup team this year was commendable, with the team taking second place in the Walker Cup Competition to the other, all-conquering, North Street Giants.  For other sports, the School was, throughout the year, near the pinnacle in athletics and table tennis.  And, once again, the Kingston College, under the guidance of Old Boy coaches, including in particular Valmore Stewart and Jeffrey Foreman, emerged as the Champion Team in the TVJ Schools' Challenge Quiz Competition. 

In the course of the year, the Board has sought to encourage various infrastructural developments at both Melbourne Park and North Street.  In some instances, this has been done with considerable assistance from private donors, as was the case, for instance, with the renovation of the North Street Pavilion: this was undertaken with a substantial contribution from the RuJohn Foundation, through assistance from Old Boy Byron Bachelor and his family.  Substantial improvements to the playing field at North Street, painting of some structures at Melbourne Park (by the Fortis Pavilion group), repairs to the roof of the Staff Room at North Street, and completion of repairs to the Chemistry Laboratory, are also items that should be mentioned.

So, with respect to infrastructure, things are happening.  It is worrying, however, that these developments have been undertaken with no small degree of wear and tear.  It seems that the Board will need to work carefully towards putting in place structures of efficiency to achieve further development at the School. 

Academic Improvements
For the year 2012, I hope to be in a position to encourage the Board and the School to pay greater attention to academic performance.  We will need to develop strategies to raise performance levels in particular subjects, and to consider methods of ensuring that pass rates are improved considerably for all.  With this in mind, it is gratifying to note that Dr. Peter-John Gordon, a distinguished Old Boy, shall be rejoining the Board.  Dr. Gordon, who is currently a lecturer in the Department of Economics at the UWI, will be expected to help us especially, but not exclusively, in this area.

My own, very personal, view is that the Sixth Form needs to be enhanced as the intellectual centre of the School.  Students in Grades 12 and 13 must be afforded greater library and internet facilities, and should be comfortable in the knowledge that their teachers are among the best in the country.  If the School can almost routinely produce top students at this level, this will help to elevate the overall intellectual climate at Kingston College, and will inspire young men in the lower grades to improved standards: the much-touted role model concept does not take place only outside the walls of the School.

A note on the appointment of the new Principal is in order.  As you may recall, the Board has recommended a new Principal for the School.  The Teachers' Service Commission has made comments on this nomination, and so, I expect that there will be dialogue on the question in the New Year.  The Right Revered Dr. Alfred Reid, the Lord Bishop of Jamaica, and the Right Reverend Dr. Robert Thompson, the Bishop of Kingston, have taken a direct interest in this matter, and have provided guidance on the way forward.  We hope that this matter will be resolved in 2012.   

Closing Remarks
As we embark upon the New Year, I take this opportunity to wish all members of the Kingston College family best wishes for a peaceful, productive and prosperous period.  In the passing of the beloved former Principals Ivan "Wally" Johnson, Canon John McNab, as well as Howard "Fudge" Aris, Kingston College is poorer today than it was yesterday.  But we have the will to win in the contest of life; our teachers work diligently in challenging circumstances, our Old Boys continue to contribute generously to developments at the School, and parents often embrace the Kingston College spirit.

In closing, I pay special tribute to the Right Reverend Alfred Reid on his retirement from the position of Lord Bishop of Jamaica.   As the President of Kingston College, Lord Bishop Reid has been a constant source of guidance and advice to the Board, and has insisted that the School should maintain the highest standards even as we keep open our doors to the widest cross-section of schoolboys from Kingston and its environs.  This is in keeping with the finest traditions of the College.  On behalf of the Board, I express the hope that Lord Bishop Reid will find fulfillment and happiness in his post-retirement activities.

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