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News


Camperdown High honours home-grown nation builders

Ricketts Glen Mills Bunny Wailer Don Quarrie

THE CAMPERDOWN High School Alumni Association last week inducted four prominent Jamaicans and past students and a former principal of the institution into its Hall of Fame.

The alumni: Jamaica's first sprint sensation, Donald Quarrie; renowned track-and-field coach, Glenn Mills; reggae Grammy awardee, Neville 'Bunny Wailer' Livingstone; and Patsy Ricketts, renown dancer. Former principal Noel White was the posthumous inductee.

All five persons were accorded the special honour at the school's annual reunion and gala dinner held at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel in St Andrew. During the event, a cheque of $1.1 million was also donated to the school by the Alumni Florida chapter.

Donald Quarrie entered the institution in 1965 where it was said that in his first appearance at Champs, the Camperdown old boy demolished the 100 metres record in the first heat, clocking 10.96 seconds. He became a schoolboy legend in short order, and brought much recognition to the institution's track-and-field programme.

Glenn Mills enrolled at Camperdown at age 13 in 1962, where his passion for the sport of track and field became evident to former Camperdown coach, Henry Messam. Later, Mills - now president and head coach at Racers Track Club - was tasked with the responsibility of coaching a class of young track-and-field athletes. He retained the job after graduation, progressing to become an official member of the school's coaching staff.

Three-time Grammy winner

Bunny Wailer's stint at the institution started in 1960. It was said that his was one of several voices spotted by the then choir mistress who encouraged him to develop his talent. The Camperdown old boy later went on to become a three-time Grammy Award winner, and is recognised as one of the legends of reggae music.

Recognised as a foundation student of the institution, Patsy Ricketts started her journey at the institution in 1958 in the preparatory division of the Ivy Wilson Grant private school, before moving on to Camperdown High. While at Camperdown High, she was introduced to the National Dance Theatre Company, where she went on to become the Company's principal female dancer.

Former principal Noel White has been credited for having guided the institution through its first two years of grant-aided status from 1958-1960. It was said that during his two years at the institution, the former principal institutionalised the school's track-and-field programme and shaped its first foray into both the Girls' and Boys' Athletic Championships.

Speaking at the event, acting principal at Camperdown High, Valentine Bailey, thanked all past students who continue to give to the institution and urged other past students to do the same.

"We are asking those students sitting on the periphery to come in and donate to the school. We need your help, we need your commitment to the school," he said.

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Glenroy Sinclair, Assignment Coordinator

LAUGHTER, FUN and excitement, surprises and a few drops of tears were the high points of the recently celebrated Camperdown High School past students' reunion, held in Fort Lauderdale, United States.

Old friends, classmates, teachers and childhood sweethearts turned out in droves to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the school's Florida chapter.

"It was fantastic being in the collective company of you guys, on the plane back to Jamaica, I got emotional just looking at the photos we took together. I'm not sure we'll ever get the chance to all come together again, but it was well worth the effort we gave this one. Love you all," wrote William Watson to his fellow alumni.

Over the three days of celebration which got under way at the Renaissance Hotel on 1617 SE 17th Street, Fort Lauderdale, nothing could be more precious than seeing some teachers reuniting with their former students, some of whom have

Matured into successful professionals.

Meanwhile, some of the alumni warmly hugged, greeted each other with sweet smiles and chatted for long hours, enquiring about others and reminiscing on the memorable moments back in high school.

Dubbed the 'sprint factory' because of the numerous sprinters they have produced over the years, president of the Florida chapter, Dr Allan Cunningham, praised his alma mater for their contribution to nation building.

"It is not because of the success of our cheerleading team, or the history of the sprint factory, or the number of our graduates with successful careers in business, science, and other academic disciplines. Our pride is based on a simple premise summed up in a declaration made over 80 years ago by our founder, Mrs Ivy May Grant, a declaration that demands our very best," said Cunningham.

He charged that the philosophy of this association is that 'we' must strive to make the best of our own abilities.

"When we have given something our all, we have beaten the weaker side of ourselves, therefore achieving our goal of being the best that we can be," Cunningham argued.

He showered praises on the alumni for transforming Camperdown High School into one of the finest educational institutions in Jamaica.

glenroy.sinclair@gleanerjm.com