The St. Rose’s High School of Guyana Alumni Association USA Inc. commemorated the school’s 170th Anniversary with a lavish awards gala, that included a silent auction of artwork by US-based Guyanese visual artist, Derek Browne, and a coming together of past students whose passion for educating future generations of students, was felt by the large turnout at Russo’s on the Bay, on Aug. 31.
The school honored Minister of Telecommunications, Catherine Cholmondeley-Hughes, an alumna, for her continued support of her alma mater, and Fly Jamaica Airways, owned by Guyanese Captain Ronald Reece and Roxanne Reece, for their generosity and commitment to the institution, during a nostalgic evening in the spirit of the schools motto — “‘Serviam’ — I will serve.”
The camaraderie showed a special bond among the former students who enjoyed a cocktail hour, before emcees Cheryl Durant-Smith welcomed the audience and announced that the evening also celebrated the 51stAnniversary of Guyana’s Independence.
Before the awards presentations, Headmistress of St. Rose’s High School, Ursuline Convent, Paula Yearwood Hamilton, who arrived from Guyana for the festivities, thanked the USA and Canada alumni associations for their unwavering support of the school back home, which she said, gives the faculty motivation to improve the quality of education delivered to the students.
“Thank you for planning such an event for this noble institution. I bring you best wishes from the board of governors, parents, teachers’ association, and students. I must emphasize, with all the changes and challenges we face, we continue to strive for excellence, said Hamilton, noting that for the first time in many years, 2017 has seen a 100 percent pass in English Language and French, due to help rendered for modern languages.
She applauded the improvements in this year’s Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), and congratulated student Shawn Shewram, for securing grade one passes in eight units at one sitting of the examination.
“Your efforts have enhanced our school,” said the educator, before she congratulated Minister Catherine Hughes and Fly Jamaica Airways, and recognized the school’s 170th anniversary, by saying, “Thank you for your support of St. Rose’s.”
Alumnus Compton Grose then presented an Appreciation Award to Fly Jamaica Airways for its commitment in the field of education. He lauded the aviation company as a beacon of corporate, social responsibility with its community outreach, and philanthropy, that has left an indelible mark in support of St. Rose’s Alumni. Dr. Dawn Forde-Arno, an alumnus of Bishops High School, accepted the award on behalf of Mrs. Roxanne Reece of Fly Jamaica Airways.
Jennifer Branche in turn, reminisced about experiences on the St. Rose’s debating team with Catherine Hughes, and in a lengthy heartfelt introduction, expressed the extraordinary relationship she shared with Hughes, a Member of Parliament, before presenting her with a plaque on behalf of their Alma Mater.
In keeping with the mission of St. Rose’s to improve the quality of education and its environment, to raise funds to meet the needs of the faculty, staff and students, as well as to establish a network among past pupils, Hughes who has served on the board of directors for many years, and continues to be a passionate proponent, said it has been an honor and privilege to have received the education, experiences, and friendships, while attending St. Agnes, and then St. Rose’s.
The politician, who was welcomed by her siblings, close relatives and friends, evoked the spirit of her mother whom she recalled was very proud of her accomplishments at the two schools before going on to university.
“I cannot remember an exact moment or event that ignited my deep feelings to give back to my school, my community, or my country, my current path was never one that I thought I would traverse, but what I can remember is that St. Rose’s provided the environment that nurtured my passion. From Sister Hazel’s morning assemblies, to Mrs. Rosemunde Addo in class, in which she stated you must learn to enunciate your words,” said Hughes.
Hughes, whose father Hugh Cholmondely, was a prominent broadcaster at Guyana’s first radio station, Radio Demerara, and who graduated from the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus with honors with a degree in Mass Communications, never knew back then that her teacher was preparing her for parliament, she noted.
Married for 24 years, to attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes, who listened proudly as Cathy, as she is fondly called — talked about them meeting in high school during debating sessions.
She told the audience that included Ambassador Michael Ten-Pow, and Consul General Barbara Atherly that students were encouraged to have a voice and saluted her mentor Sister Hazel Campayne, also sitting in the audience.
“We must find a way to our destiny to be our best selves, live, love, learn and each leave a legacy. Service to ourselves prepares us for the bigger purpose of serving others,” said Hughes. “These qualities would help us to volunteer of our selves ensuring that those who come after us would be given the best.”
“Let’s never shirk our duty but continue to live by the charge contained in our motto ‘Serviam’- I will serve.”
While thanking board members and all alumni, Vice President Pauline Roman-Willis expressed deep appreciation to Lorraine Croft-Farnell, president of St. Rose’s Alumni Association USA, for the exemplary, stellar work she single handedly did in planning and executing the successful gala.
Representatives from Bishop’s, Tutorial, St. Joseph’s High Schools, President’s College, and Queens College also attended the elegant evening that raised much-needed funds for educational programs at St. Rose’s High School in Georgetown, Guyana.