St. George’s College Old Boys’ Association, ON, Canada Newsletter, Issue #57 (pg3), March 2010
Why I send My Son to St. George’s College by Donovan Chen See
Questions to son Joseph:
Q. Do you like going to STGC?
A. Yes, I really like going to STGC so far. I like it mainly because it is more than just going to school to sit in a classroom. It is about meeting different people and making friends. People there are funny and mischievous. I get a lot of jokes every day.
Q. What do you like most?
A. That the students can be so funny and play around outside, but in class they are completely different and serious.
Q. What do you like least?
A. Most of the teachers are very strict.
Q. If you had a choice now, would you go to another school instead?
A. No, I would never want to go to any other school other than STGC. I wouldn’t because I’m already used to the school and the people, how they react, and what they do. If I ever had to change schools, I would be uncomfortable. For many other reasons, I like it here.
Here are some facts about Joseph:
- He scored 91% in the Grade Six Achievement Test
- (GSAT), which we know as the Common Entrance.Presently member of the STGC Table Tennis Team.STGC requires
- that each student chooses one extra-curricular (Computer Club), and one sport (table tennis).
The question frequently asked of me, and my wife Stephanie, is how could we, in today’s Jamaica, ever consider and even choose to send our son to an Inner City School” like St George’s College. The fact is that today, STGC is not an Inner City School! Yes we educate students from the surrounding community which we serve and that’s good, for it’s that mixture with the more urban uptown middle class that allows for a unique blend and the opportunity for a truly meaningful educational experience for the young students there.
My experiences as a student at STGC were predominantly good, and undoubtedly memorable. Our College was a good training ground for future life. Today, it still is, especially if your child may end up living in Jamaica. We were taught respect, doing things to the greater glory of God (AMDG), doing things to the best of one’s ability, for good or for bad! Above all, the College population represented a true sample of Jamaica…we lived first hand our country’s motto, Out of many One People. Most of us speak with great pride and fond memories of being Jamaican and growing up in Jamaica.
To send Joseph to STGC was one of the most difficult decisions we have had to make as parents. It was too important for sentiment to be a factor.
Much of what existed at STGC during my years (1971-1976) still exists today. The primary difference is that at that time, our school was on a downhill slide. Today, it is on an upswing- thanks to the tremendous effort put out by principals Dr. Fred Kennedy and his successor Mrs. Margaret Campbell.
For Stephanie and me, the areas that count most…Academic excellence, School leadership, Catholic values, campus safety, sports, extra-curricular activities; which includes community outreach projects and the respect for good old time Jamaican values are paramount, and they are all here at St. George’s College. We have not yet regretted our decision.
We want our children (who all presently live in Jamaica) to be exposed to, and appreciate the Jamaican childhood experience. Joseph, his younger brother Benjamin, and older sister Shannon (who attends Immaculate), will have ample time to discover the greater world and North American life during their University years, as their parents did.
AMDG…Donovan Chen See (class of 1976)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Donovan spent 17 unbroken years (1990-2007) working at STGC… 3 chairing the Emmet Park Restoration Committee; 14 on the Board of Management (1993-2007), 8 as Vice Chairman (1999-2007), and everything else that came with the titles. Donovan and his family are very involved with Monsignor Michael Lewis and the Stella Maris catholic community. He is one of the school’s strongest supporters as have been many of his family. Family members that attended STGC…Father, Donovan Chen See; Uncles, Nigel Chen See, Douglas Chen See, Desmond Chen See, David Weller; Hall of Famer, Bill Tenn, Arthur Tenn, Andrew Tenn; Grand Uncles, Alex Chen See, Patrick Chen See, Valentine Chung, Maurice Tenn; Rhodes Scholar, Lawerence Tenn, Alfred Tenn, Trevor Tenn.
We need more old boys like this in Jamaica and overseas to believe in the school and step up to the plate for the alma mater.
An Immaculate Conception “old girl”, she is a hard worker, working 16 hours a day at times, scheduling training sessions, recruiting teachers, arranging for competitions to take place, meeting with school teachers, principals and School Board officials, negotiating with potential sponsors and funders, and also helping out in the classrooms. Ilsa Abraham is the principal and co-founder of Join the Dance (Canada), which begun in 2006. I knew her as Larry Wong way back when we grew up together in Jamaica, along with her five St.GC brothers, Anton, Richard, Ian, Joseph & Neil. JTD is a private, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to shape character development in Canadian youth through innovative Arts in Education programs.
In January 2006, after learning of ballroom extraordinaire Pierre Dulaine’s efforts in helping thousands of New York’s inner city youth regain a sense of self-respect, pride and elegance through the internationally acclaimed Mad Hot Ballroom documentary and Take the Lead starring Antonio Banderas, Ilsa, was sold on his program. A highly committed community advocate, Ilsa joined forces with co-founder, Bob Rutherford, retired Vice Principal, to establish JTD and in early 2007, they became the first official representative for Dancing Classrooms in Canada. Dancing Classrooms™ is an inter-curricular 10 week – 20 session Character Education program that utilizes the discipline and team work of ballroom dance to transform lives and change attitudes in the participants, and which benefits extend out into the broader school community and to its families.
As a result of their hard work, JTD now boasts a dedicated and diverse team of specialized Teaching Artists who co-facilitate with regular Classroom Teachers to offer this unique academic enrichment each year, to several thousand students between the ages of 10 – 14 years old. By the end of Academic Year 2009/10, and its third year of operation, JTD expects to have served close to 12,000 students in over 300 classrooms and 130 schools. The program is fully endorsed by the Toronto District School Board, the Toronto Catholic District School Board, and the Model Schools for Inner Cities. The Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board recently came on board and is seeking to expand the program to many more of its elementary schools.
Initially skeptical, I stood in awe in the classroom to which Ilsa was able finally to convince me to visit. I was mesmerized even more when I experienced the culminating Grand Trophy event last year. As the young dancers confidently strut their stuff and performed the Rumba, Merengue, the very challenging Tango and Waltz, the Foxtrot, and Swing. I was struck by their extraordinary teamwork, elegance, pride, and yes, the total camaraderie even as they competed with a vengeance for gold, silver, and bronze medals, and the stunning Palais Royale Trophy.
First hand, I have heard more than one school principal speak to the profound impact on their students academically, socially, and above all in transforming negative attitudes and behaviours resulting in “bullies” becoming “leaders” willing to help others not only in the dance, but across the rest of their school life. As well, they said that the program often has served to improve the relationship between a child and his/her family members. Because for homework, the students are required to practice dance steps, and in many cases, have bonded more closely with parents and siblings who became their home-dance-partners.
Ontario’s Lt. Governor and his wife were the Honorary Patrons at the very first Fundraising Gala held in January 2008. They have also visited the program in schools, as have various members of local government, major corporate leaders, and high profile media.
I decided to join Ilsa’s team last year, and have enjoyed every moment of working with her, and the team. Ilsa is proof that Jamaicans have a lot to offer to Canadian society in more than one way. JTD and their participating schools urgently need community support to help sustain and expand the program to the benefit of many more thousands of children, especially in our neediest of communities.
I wish to take this opportunity to urge all our fellow Jamaicans to visit the charity’s website at www.jointhedance.com, and to come out in support at the various published events in the future. For more information contact Ilsa at 905 837-7795, OR email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You many also contact me at 416-712-4242.
“COME SEE”, said a boisterous Carl Chang, as we motored in to Kingston from the airport on January 28th. “It’s tomorrow”, he continued, and we have to go and give him support. Then he showed me the copy of an Email invitation sent out to the Jamaica old boys from a Jason Dear. I had come for Archbishop Burke’s celebration of Life Events, the following week.
Carl was planning my itinerary for the week.
Jason Dear had organized these mentorship sessions for a fifth form class, whose students would be out into the real world in a few months. What then for them?
On this bright sunny Friday morning Carl and I arrived; did a brief school tour ,meeting with the principal Margaret Campbell, and chatted with head boy Craig Jervis, soccer coach Bertis Bell, and school guidance counselor Cameka Hazel, who had selected what we were told a difficult class for Jason’s session.
“Give me a few minutes to calm them down” said the young energetic Jason Dear, before he came out and ushered Carl and myself in.
How does one break the ice? “Where do the dunces usually sit “I asked, and the loud response ‘‘in the back sir’’ came back at us, and Carl and I raced to the rear of the class to take our seats.
I think that did the trick- it gave us acceptance and entry into the group and we were able to rap and participate in a meaningful exchange of aspirations and ideas guided by an energetic Jason Dear.
Jason had organized well from the session before. Each student was told to come prepared to discuss their future plans after leaving 5th form. Jason, drawing on his leadership skills, was obviously not there to lecture but to extract from each student some dream, some future goal and in this he was very successful, as the animated youngsters, gesticulated, laughed -Yes but ourpoured wonderfully at the same time. Jason ruled no idea as ridiculous or pipe dreaming and encouraged all and gave guidance on sources of help, including the network of old boys. He emphasized the importance of planning.
Carl and I were given our turn, with Carl reaching back to his own student days; urging all to give back to the school and not wait as long as he did after leaving to start. They seemed a bit puzzled that first of all I had graduated way back 50 years ago, came all the way from Canada and had come to spend an hour with them. They were noisy eager participants, which I told the guidance counselor was just the same as when we were in school.
One career aspiration in particular struck me. This young man wanted to go into business to make lots of money; many wanted to go into their own business. But what struck me in this case was his real motive for this and that was the desire to go into politics. Why business then?, because he didn’t want to go into politics to make money but to be independent before so he could not be unduly influenced- WOW !.
This mentorship experience with Jason was the highlight of my Jamaica trip. I feel I gained far more out of this experience than my meager participation warranted. I was tremendously impressed by his initiative and drive. I hope more old boys will support him. There is real value in this; the boys need this mentoring.
Jason has continued on with the programme and in February took the class on a professional field trip to the Jamaica Stock Exchange. There they learned about investing in the market to create wealth. He was showing them this career opportunity and how it had worked for him. There they learned too how to behave in a professional environment.
I let Jason speak for himself , I quote ‘‘I hate to keep stressing this, but before I met these boys, I was told that they were the worst behaving boys but I must report to Mrs. Campbell, that once again the boys behaved so well and I tell them every time that I am VERY PROUD of them. Again, these boys (like myself) just need a little encouragement, focus and guidance. When I look at them I see myself all over again.
Thank God I had parents who gave me their all.”
Jason, thank God they had you giving of your time for them.
Editor’s note: Georgian Jason Dear is an Equity Trading Manager of First Global Financial Services Limited, an arm of the Grace Kennedy group. Like most of us he has to earn a living; he has a boss to report to. He is a busy man and his time is money and is precious. We hope other old boys will emulate his efforts and give of their time as well and join him in these initiatives or start their own.
Greetings Old Boys and Friends of St. George’s College,
So much is happening here at the College that testifies to the blessing of Almighty God, that it is difficult to capture it all in a short article.
Once again through the efforts of our Manning Cup Team coached by Neville Bell, managed by Lennox Robinson and supported by a number of generous old boys we have retained the Manning Cup and the Olivier Shield. Both our under 19 and under 16 teams performed exceptionally well in the ISSA Basketball competition again this year making it to the finals and on March 4, 2010 our under 16 team became All Island Champions. We now turn our attention to our track and field students who performed well at the recent Gibson relays and continue with their preparation for the upcoming ISSA/Grace Boys and Girls Championship (CHAMPS).
Our Choir did well in the All Together Sing competition. Unfortunately, success in the competition is based largely on votes from the public and we were voted out late in the competition. Their performances however were of such a high standard that we continue to receive requests for them to perform at events. On Friday, February 26 we celebrated Jamaica Day and it was an event that as one teacher described “It’s the first in a long time that I have felt so Jamaican”. The day was a wonderful focus on Jamaican culture, food and talent. Students and staff members dressed in Jamaican colours and bandana, sampled Jamaican dishes, were entertained by a storyteller and addressed by Dr. Caroline Cooper. A concert topped off the day.
Two of our students placed fourth in the island in two subject areas in the CSEC examinations this year. Charles Frost placed fourth in Chemistry and Owen Fisher placed fourth in Economics. Both students are now in sixth form and continue to excel.
We continue to work on correcting some of the deferred maintenance on the campus assisted by liaison Carl Chang. His assistance has been invaluable as well as the support of all those who have contributed in this area.
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