JA school fundraiser lauds past & future

Members of the Board of the Executive Alumni Association of Florida (from left) Debra Byfield, Owen Howe, Althea Brown Robinson, Doreen Campbell & Maureen Fidler. Missing: Judith Pitter.

Plans and plaudits might have enhanced benefit efforts for a Jamaican high school and also made them the envy of all other reunions held annually to pay tribute to the nurturing of organizations and numerous institutions of learning throughout the island.

During a recent annual gala in South Florida, Althea Brown Robinson, president of the chapter there eased the comfort level of the crowd by saluting the black-tie audience for their patronage. In reprising the history of the Jamaican institution founded in 1931 by A.W. Powell, she gave a synopsis of her Excelsior Alumni Association in Florida.

According to the ambitious leader, plans to build a dance studio at the school remain a focus of her group. In addition she stated that the association continues a long term project to renovate the bathrooms at the school and will underwrite a number of scholarships to needy students.

In addition, as part of their community outreach, she stated that the association made a “significant contribution to the Haiti” relief effort after that country had been devastated by an earthquake.

In conjunction with lauding the eight decades of the school, the association’s goals and fundraising for future events, the gathering also paid homage to alumna and former games mistress Myrtle Cross, former teachers Hugh Jones and Dr. Selburne Goode.

Organized by Robinson and executive and advisory board members Doreen Campbell, Debra Byfield, Owen Howe, Judith Pitter Maureen Fidler, Michael Aitchetson, the event was marked by a performance from Jeanne Powell, who dressed in the uniform of her alma mater performed dialect verses in tribute to Jamaica’s first lady of comedy, the late Louise “Miss Lou” Bennett Coverley, an alum of the high school.

Powell – who is of no relation to the founder of the institution – seemed to hit the right note when she delivered her version of how the school got its name.

Powell — Why do you want to come to this School?

Student — To Excel, Sir!

Powell: That’s it! I will name the school Excelsior!

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