Champs – our field of dreams
When Merlene Ottey and a relative got to Kingston for our national athletic championships, also known as Champs, they had nowhere to sleep. They had to rest on a bench in a police station. The rest is history.
Champs is the field of dreams for our young athletes, the largest such high school event in the world, attracting top college coaches who know the glory our athletes will bring to their names. Our winners all had their start at Champs and on the first day of the event last week Usain Bolt posted just one word on Twitter: “Champs.” Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce visited the games decked out in her Wolmer’s colours. Yes, here we are talking about our track legends on planet Earth.
As we watched Alana Reid of Hydel and Bouwahjgie Nkrumie of Kingston College break the Class 1 100 metre record, we know more glory days are coming for Jamaica. Their early wins heralded the eventual victory of their schools. Special congratulations to the Hydel Girls Team for their first-ever Champs triumph.
Champs is more than an athletic meeting, it is a cultural phenomenon going back to 1910, but it only embraced our women athletes in 1999. Our friends in the US have Champs marked on their calendars to descend annually on the National Stadium. Former Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) President Audley Hewitt, proudly wearing Kingston College’s purple, shared that he has only missed two Champs in the past 70 years, first as a participant, then official, and now visitor, flying in from abroad.
The spirit of the event lifts up the entire country and increases our local general knowledge. I get a charge when I hear a Petersfield High School athlete making a mark, a district just next to my birthplace in Westmoreland. On Twitter, someone asked, “Where is Maggoty?” and now he knows it is in St Elizabeth.
In the top ten at the time of writing is Alphansus Davis High School; the Spalding High School was renamed in his honour as the first principal to remove the shift system from the school and make it a school of choice. Now the chairman of the school board, he may have never dreamed that his name would be emblazoned on the Champs leader board for millions to see.
We were delighted to meet three bright young athletes from my alma mater, Convent of Mercy Academy “Alpha” when our shop supported them with gears. Each athlete spoke of the attentiveness of their parents, coach, and school. They may not have earned points, but Kaylah Scott, Tashay Faulkner, and Casey-Dee Fuller have put their hearts into their efforts and gained valuable experience for their next outing.
We honour the generations of Champs athletes who demonstrated our capacity for greatness to keep us moving ahead. We congratulate the coaches, families, schools, and past students who guide, nurture, and support our young aspirants. Thank you all for the joy of Champs, the fertile field of dreams for our young athletes.
GIVING DAY AT STATHS
It was no ordinary “Giving Day” at the St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) last Thursday as they celebrated Founders’ Day. Our good friend Horace “Natchy” Campbell and colleagues of the school’s alumni association north-east chapter celebrated their 20th anniversary of support with significant gifts: a school bus, two instructional engines, refurbished basketball and netball courts, and other gifts to staff and students.
Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie, who was lauded as a veritable godfather of the school, congratulated principal Dr Worrel Hibbert, the board, and faculty of the school on their significant strides.
A large contingent of STATHS north-east alum members from the USA and other STATHS alum chapter members were on hand to make Giving Day a tremendous success. Their mission on this day, and as a registered charitable alum body, is to give back to their school and be a part of its annual Founders’ Day celebratory activities, which continues for a week with their Founders Day church service held yesterday morning at the Rose Town Holiness Church.
NHT PENSIONERS FETED
As one of the most respected financial institutions in the world, the National Housing Trust (NHT) ensures that its pensioners are celebrated for their contribution to the resilience of the organisation. At a luncheon held last week at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel, pensioners shared their retirement activities: more time with their grandchildren, more time to appreciate their spouses, travelling, and visiting relatives.
I was glad to give information on Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP), the advocacy organisation for seniors. The attendees enjoyed photos of recent CCRP outings to Puerto Seco, Lavender Moon, the Blue Mountain Coffee Festival, and Heritage Gardens in Irish Town and information on discounted insurance plans. We also donated prizes of Patricia Reid-Waugh’s excellent guide for retirees, Retirement: A New Adventure.
I had informative conversations with NHT managers and associates Donnetta Russell, Martin Miller, and Nesta-Claire Hunter. Acting Corporate & Public Affairs Manager Tameka Hill reminded of the increased NHT benefits recently announced by Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke: single applicant, $7.5 million; two co-applicants, $15 million; three co-applicants, $21 million; home improvement loans, $3.5 million; house lot loans, $3.5 million.
Weekly income interest rates are minimum wage to $30,000.99 — 0 per cent; $30,001 to $42000.99 — 2%; $42,001 to $100,000.99 — 4 per cent; Over $100,001.00 per week — 5 per cent. NHT also offers grants to people with disabilities to ensure safety and accessibility in their homes.
If you have not made the move yet, these rates should encourage you to take the key step to becoming a homeowner, it is a great foundation on which to build generational wealth.
FAREWELL, BERYL CHEVANNES
Beryl Chevannes was respected and beloved as a great matriarch, a trailblazer in nursing education, and a brilliant administrator. Her amazing career started 68 years ago when she graduated as a registered nurse and subsequently became a certified midwife. Later, at The University of the West Indies (UWI), she studied advanced nursing education, family life education, management studies, and gained a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration.
As family planning coordinator in the Ministry of Health she led and monitored family planning activities in 392 health centres and 17 hospitals across Jamaica, eventually serving as an internationally renowned executive director of the National Family Planning Board from 1992 to 1999. Despite her intense career journey, Chevannes found the time to serve as an examiner at the Nursing Council of Jamaica; relief midwifery tutor at the School of Nursing at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI); lecturer in the In-Service Education Unit at UHWI; coordinator of the Government Midwifery Programme; lecturer in the maternal and child health diploma course of the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine at The UWI; lecturer at The University of the West Indies Distance Teaching Enterprise (UWIDITE) and the Fertility Management Unit; and external examiner for nursing and midwifery at the Nursing Council of Nassau, Bahamas.
Mrs Chevannes received the National Honour of the Order of Distinction and was named Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Chevannes was a dedicated member of the Mona United Church. Our condolence to her beloved family. May her beautiful soul rest in peace.