Representatives of Ardenne High School in St Andrew celebrate winning the Marcus Garvey Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday. (Photos: Naphtali Junior)

ARDENNE High School is the recipient of the prestigious Marcus Garvey Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts.

The Corporate Area-based institution received that accolade Wednesday during the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC)-organised National Performing Art Excellence Awards ceremony held at Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.

Marsha Lawrence-Davids, Ardenne High's co-curricular coordinator, said the honour was significant as the school is celebrating its 95th anniversary.

"Winning this award really allows us to feel that we have accomplished a lot, especially considering all that happened with the pandemic; all the rehearsals and the time that we were able to put in, and so this is allowing us to feel more than good. We feel fabulous. We feel as though we're getting the reward for our hard work," Lawrence-Davids told the Jamaica Observer.

Members of Ardenne High School accept the Marcus Garvey Award for Execellence in the Performing Arts from Dr Norman Dunn (fourth right), minister of state in the ministry of industry, investment and commerce, at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday. From left are: students Jason Grant, Gabrielle McEwan, and Abigail Dunstan; music teacher Andrae Wilson; Marsha Lawrence-Davids, co-curricular coordinator; Gracia Thompson, director of speech and drama; Aliyah Hall; and Leonardo Parkinson.

The co-curricular coordinator said a year of events have been planned at Ardenne High and will culminate with a grand production in December.

Lawrence-Davids highlighted the significance of winning the Marcus Garvey Award on his birthday.

"The legacy of Marcus Garvey is something we consider to teach and emphasise at Ardenne High School in our civics programme, and even with the drama and music programmes. We believe that black consciousness is something that should be promoted that our students will learn to love themselves, love how they look, love their culture, love their place of origin so that will promote a greater sense of identity and self-worth," she said.

On Wednesday, Garvey — Jamaica's first national hero — would have celebrated his 135th birthday. A floral tribute in his honour was held at his gravesite, National Heroes' Park in central Kingston.

Garvey was born in St Ann. As an activist he organised the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) which grew into an international organisation and advanced a pan-African philosophy that inspired a movement known as Garveyism.

He died in London in 1940 at age 52, and his body was exhumed and returned to Jamaica in November 1964. Five years later, he was named Jamaica's first national hero.

Minister of state in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce Dr Norman Dunn — who delivered remarks on behalf of Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia "Babsy" Grange — hailed Garvey's impact.

"Throughout our nation's history, several icons have excelled at bolstering Brand Jamaica globally. Among them is the Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, founder of the pioneering Universal Negro Improvement Associate (UNIA), who is generally thought of as a stalwart for justice and the rights of black people. However, one of the major areas of Garvey's accomplishments was the role he played in helping to promote the importance of the performing arts as a channel through which people can come together to share experiences even if they see the world in radically different ways," said Dunn.

The occasion saw performances from schools and individuals. Other winners were Vocalist of the Year, Abigail Dunstan; Instrumentalist of the Year, Taquane Bowen; Drummer of the Year, Jonathan Campbell of Jamaica College (trophy); and Drum Ensemble of the Year, St Catherine High School.

BY BRIAN BONITTO Associate Editor — Auto & Entertainment bonittob@jamaicaobserver.com

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