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No to Asafa Powell High

Charlemont Past Students' Association unhappy with name change proposal

BY NADINE WILSON Observer staff reporter wilsonn@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, December 01, 2010    

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A PROPOSAL to rename Charlemont High School in St Catherine in honour of Jamaican Olympian and former 100-metre world record holder Asafa Powell is being opposed by the past students' association.

Although the proposal was made last year, the past students say they were unaware of it until last Friday when the Observer reported chairman of the Asafa Powell Foundation, attorney Delano Franklyn, as saying that the recommendation to change the name to the Asafa Powell High School is now with the prime minister.

Franklyn made the announcement during a function at The Courtleigh Hotel in Kingston at which the foundation donated cash awards to athletes and schools that uphold proper values and attitudes laden with a focus on academics.

"We don't want the name to be changed," said Charlemont High School Past Students' Association Public Relations Officer Judith Wilson. "We are not disputing the fact that Asafa has made a valuable contribution, as a past student, to the country and he is on the international scene — we are not disputing that at all. We applaud his achievements. However, we don't want the school to take his name," she said.

According to Wilson, the past students were upset that they were not consulted on the matter.

The association started drumming up support for its position on Sunday by posting a petition against the name change on the social network site Facebook. Up to yesterday, it had over 800 responses from persons stating their objection.

Wilson, who left the school 17 years ago, said many felt that the school's legacy would go if the name was changed.

"Asafa could be considered the only student who graduated and performed well athletically, but there are other persons who have contributed to society as well; it is just that they are not recognised," Wilson said.

When contacted yesterday, Franklyn said the recommendation was made because the foundation felt that 28-year-old Powell — who has run a record 65 races under 10 seconds — was deserving of the honour.

"It is not John Brown we are talking about or Mary Jane, we are talking about Asafa Powell," he said.

Franklyn admitted that neither the school board nor the principal was consulted about the name change, since it was just a recommendation.

"We are sure that there are persons who would have various views on the matter," he said.

Wilson said, the past students' association would have no problem with a department at the school being named after the athlete.

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