Jan 162012

Greetings Excelsior alumni and welcome to 2012,

This greeting brings sincere wishes for your good health and prosperity in 2012. This year, be courageous and strive for what is meaningful to you – even if it means swimming against the current of popular opinion.

50thAnniversary Celebrations: Jamaica Independence

As we are all aware, this year marks the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence. Across the diaspora there will be many events to celebrate this milestone. Be sure to stay up-to-date on the festivities with Jump4JA! Below is an excerpt from the first issue of Jump4JA! News:

“Jump4JA! is an exciting Calendar of Events and installations showcasing Jamaican ingenuity – from the arts to academia to athletics. Jump4JA! boasts the best of the best, Jamaican-born personalities as well as friends of Jamaica, renowned experts and artistes – from Canadian communities and around the world.”

50th Anniversary: Excelsior Extension Classes

While independence was a tremendous achievement for the country, that year also saw a momentous advance in the delivery of education for the nation: Excelsior’s introduction of its Extension School to Jamaica.

As The Sunday Gleaner reported on February 11, 1962, “The aim of the Extension Service at Excelsior School is to provide or increase the scope of educational facilities for all sections of the community, juvenile and adult, particularly in the areas where such facilities are either lacking or inadequate. … Until the need disappears, the Extension School seeks to continue the policy of provision for [an] overage group, a policy which was one of the fundamental reasons for founding the school many years ago.

At the time, Excelsior was thinking – and acting — completely outside the box. This was an institution committed to its vision and principles and in so doing, Mr. Powell and Excelsior took Jamaican secondary education to a higher level


New Year’s Resolution

It is the season for making resolutions. As Excelsorians we are compelled to go “yet higher”, so the New Year is as good a time as any to identify how we are going to improve. To your list of resolutions, let me suggest that you add one more: I will do more to help keep the Excelsior vision alive: good quality education accessible to all, regardless of age or socioeconomic status. As Excelsior alumni, we are the living legacy of that vision. Here are some ways that you can help to strengthen the Excelsior legacy:
a. talk to your association about contributing financially
b. volunteer your time/skills
c. offer your ideas/suggestions on how your association can be more useful
d. talk to other alumni about getting involved


A glance back at 2011

2011 was another year of growth and learning for our Toronto organization. Many more alumni have connected with the association, shared their contact details and expressed interest getting involved! The funding support provided to project at the school has increased sharply from the previous year.

Fellowship Events

The 3rd Annual Laaf ‘n Nyam Brunch was a memorable gathering of alumni as well as friends and supporters of Excelsior. We are very pleased with the strong turnout of philanthropists to support secondary education at Excelsior – while enjoying a scrumptious brunch of Jamaican comfort food. Special thanks to attendees who made their way there from well outside the Toronto area, including Ottawa, Chicago and New York. It was a festive occasion although I witnessed a number of tearful, but happy, reunions. Proceeds from this event will allow your Toronto Association to fund projects identified and championed by the school’s Principal.

Now you can mark your calendar for the next Laaf ‘n Nyam, booked for December 2, 2012. See you all there.


The Summer Dance was a runaway success in the number of alumni and friends that attended, including many that were reluctant to leave even after the lights came up in the wee hours of the morning. Proceeds from this event allowed Toronto to make its initial commitment to the upgrading and expansion of the Assembly Hall at 137 Mountainview Avenue.

If you missed the fun in 2011 its awright, but no excuses for 2012. Yes, the 2012 Summer Dance is set for June 23.

We were once again short-listed for one of the coveted Emerging Global Leaders Program spots for an Excelsior student, and so are looking forward to welcoming another student this Spring.1

Through the AJAA, this association contributes to the Graduates Program, which provides financial support to Ontario students of Jamaican heritage to pursue post-secondary education. Similarly, your Association made a meaningful donation to the Annual Care & Share program, which helps the needy in the Toronto area during the holiday season.
Scholarships/bursaries in Canada
One key ambition for alumni residing in Canada is to see their children earn post-secondary credentials. However, for families of modest means, the high cost of post-secondary tuition can be a real barrier to higher education. However, there is a variety of philanthropic funding available for higher education and parents should become acquainted with these sources and the processes for applying.

Below, we will highlight one of these sources: The BBPA National Scholarships (http://bbpa.org/events-programs/national-scholarships/). Subsequent issues will highlight other scholarship/bursary sources:



The BBPA, or Black Business and Professional Association, is a non-profit, charitable organization that addresses equity and opportunity for the Black community in business, employment, education and economic development. The BBPA National Scholarship Fund is dedicated to supporting and promoting the achievement of academic excellence by Black Canadian youth through an annual scholarship program. These are in three categories:

i) BBPA Legacy Scholarships, in the names of Black Canadians who enriched Canada with their contributions in the arts, the professions, science, business, technology, politics and other areas of endeavour;

ii) Sponsored or Named Scholarships funded directly by corporations or individuals in the name of the corporation or individual; or established in the memory of a relative.

iii) The Legacy Scholarships are funded from donations to the General Fund.

The BBPA website reports that in its most recent year it granted scholarships totalling close to $200,000 to approximately 60 students from across Canada. (http://bbpa.org/events-programs/national-scholarships/the-scholarships/). Their website provides the detailed eligibility criteria and application forms for these awards.


An example of one of the Sponsored Scholarships is the Guntley-Lorimer Science and Arts Scholarship, sponsored by Dr. Edith Guntley-Lorimer and Professor Michael Lorimer. It provides four (4) scholarships – valued at $2,000.00 to $3,000.00 each – to students enrolled in Science and Arts programs at an accredited Canadian college or university. For BBPA Scholarships, applications must be received at the office of the Black Business and Professional Association no later than 4:00 p.m. on May 29th (not by e-mail).

So seize the year – and stay connected to your Excelsior family as we find ways to help each other learn, grow and thrive. See you soon.


Hurb Kumaasi


Excelsior School Alumni Association (Ontario)

Jul 132011

Greetings Fellow Excelsior Alumni,
I hope you are all staying safe during this heat wave, maybe even finding ways to take full advantage of the temporarily tropical climate.

It’s high time we brought you up-to-date on goings on at the School as well as on events in the alumni diaspora. It’s a lengthy report because we wanted you to know what we know:

  1. Progress and financial condition of Toronto Association
  2. News and developments at 137 Mountain View Avenue
  3. Loaded events schedule for 2011: get connected

Progress and financial condition of Toronto Association

Your Toronto chapter is hitting its stride toward achieving the key objectives set for the 2011-2012 campaign (summarized from the previous issue of the Antrim Gold report):

  1. Double the number of active (i.e., listed) alumni (in order to strengthen the Excelsior connections in the region.);
  2. Triple the amount of funds raised;
  3. Double the J$ value of funding for projects at the School in Kingston (as well as for alumni initiatives in the GTA); and
  4. Improve communication to our members, including financial reporting and annual objectives

With events such as Soccerfest (July 17th), the Town and Country Family Picnic (July 3rd) and our Excelsior Summer Dance (June 25th), we continue to reach out to connect to every alumni family from Niagara Falls to Oshawa and all points in between. Our list shows 84 Excelsior alumni in the Golden Horseshoe region. We know there are many more of you. Please contact Enez to make sure you are connected and also pass along this communication to other alumni and encourage them all to get connected somehow. By this time next year we want to see a healthy increase in the known Aggie population in the GTA.

As you know, our main event for the year is ourr Annual Laaf & Nyam Brunch, “a sumptuous Jamaican brunch and a belly-full of laughs”. Mark your calendars for December 4th 2011, for the 3rd annual Laaf & Nyam, at the Woodbridge Banquet Hall. It will be another memorable show again this year – and an important fundraiser for Excelsior.

We have challenged ourselves to triple the amount of funds raised this year in order to help improve the prospects for kids now enrolled at 137 Mountain View Avenue in Kingston. We are encouraged by your contributions so far this year: total contributions from event attendance and direct donations are well ahead of last year. We know there are many demands on your resources, so we thank you for choosing to help education in Jamaica and to strengthen the alumni community in the GTA.

Initiatives in progress or on the drawing board now at Excelsior include:

  • Implementation of its strategic plan
  • Renovation/refurbishment of the dance studio and
  • Remodelling and expansion of the auditorium, to be renamed in honour of Dr. The Honourable A. Wesley Powell, our late founder

To date, the lion’s share of funds raised via the Toronto chapter has been used to support the development of Excelsior’s strategic plan. Why? First, because we believe it’s the single most important initiative the school is undertaking. Our alma mater has fallen well behind its peers in virtually every measure (academics, sports, state of repair, …). The strategic plan is intended to be a roadmap back to prominence. Without such a plan, efforts to improve will be fragmented and likely ineffective. Secondly, Toronto is the only chapter that has committed funds to the development of this Balanced Scorecard strategic plan.

We believe the School will benefit from the new scorecard especially since the four active alumni chapters have agreed that, going forward, only initiatives tied to the strategic plan will be eligible for our support.

Funds raised by Toronto will also go towards upgrading the auditorium – a 60’s era structure built to accommodate less than 500 students but now serving more than 2,000! This project is jointly sponsored by all chapters. Early projections are that the auditorium will cost upwards of J$40 million.

The renovation of the dance studio, and related roofing and other infrastructure, is urgently needed and is being championed by the Florida chapter.

Through our connection with the AJAA, the Toronto chapter also contributes to programmes to help the families of alumni living in the region. For instance, we are an annual contributor to the AJAA’s Graduates Programme, which recognises high school graduates of Jamaican decent and provides bursaries to assist in their pursuit of a post-secondary education. We encourage alumni to contact us about getting their kids to take advantage of this and many other scholarship and bursary opportunities.

News from 137 Mountain ViewAvenue
Canteen/Food Services
: There is word circulating on the internet/Facebook about impending changes to food services at the high school. We are not aware of any official comment or news release from the School.

What we have heard is that students are generally dissatisfied with the canteen and other aspects of food service at the School – many believe that change is long overdue. We also wouldn’t be surprised to learn that our School, like many others, is losing money in operating and managing the canteen. Many schools here in the Toronto area and some in Jamaica have already gotten out of that business.

So there is likely a strong case to significantly upgrade Food Services at the school. This would likely be great for students and good for the School’s financial position as well.

The internet comments focus on the potential impact that this could have on Miss Peenie and her service to the School. Like everyone else, we will wait to see what, if anything unfolds. We trust that the school recognises what Miss Peenie has meant to generations of students and treats her with the respect and affection that she justly deserves.

2011 High School graduation: The grad ceremony was “cancelled” for this year (students still received their credentials). This was the School’s response to the students’ behaviour on the last day of the school year — what it saw as behaviour unbecoming of an Excelsior graduating class. This decision was taken by the Board and Administration after much consideration.

Loaded events schedule for 2011: get out! Connect!
Across the four active alumni chapters (TO/NY/FL/JA) this 80th Anniversary year offers many events that allow alumni to connect with each other. Many are vital fundraisers that allow you to contribute to Excelsior’s renewal. But apart from the cha-ching, you will also have a nice time renewing and building your friendships. We are expecting see you.


3rd Annual Laaf & Nyam Brunch: The Toronto chapter’s premier event has now been set for 4th December, at the Woodbridge Banquet Hall. Mark your calendars. Save the date. The food alone will floor you, but the show is going to “mek you laaf ‘til yu belly bus”. More information to come.

Summer Dance : Held on 25th June, where over 200 alumni and friends had a sweet time ‘til the early morning. Funds raised will contribute to the Auditorium expansion project

Town & Country Picnic: An all-day friend-raising lyme jointly sponsored by Excelsior, Knox College, Kingston College and Meadowbrook, held on Sunday 3rd July. There were a lot of families of every configuration in attendance, loving everything from the Health Walk, to the Jamaican breakfast to the closing tug of war of the sexes. [I still can’t understand this, but the women beat the men handily in the tug of war! Clearly, this is not over, and will have to be rectified next year.]

Soccerfest 2011: Kudos to the AJAA and Alene Chen in particular for staging another very successful event. Held on Sunday 17th July, the huge G. Ross Lord park was overflowing with alumni from 18 schools. There was a steady stream of Aggie-ites dropping by the Excelsior hospitality tent for complimentary refreshments on what was a scorching day. Excelsior fielded a sterling team led brilliantly by Patrick Reid, a recent Excelsior Manning Cup champion team captain. We beat Titchfield and walked all over J.C. Unfortunately, we were knocked out of competition by a technicality (Clarendon College had the same record but had scored one more goal than us).

New York
The NY chapter hosts their first 3-in-one-Summer Fling, an innovative dance fundraiser at the Mangoville club in Jamaica, New York. As the flyer indicates, the event is a brilliant joint effort by Ardenne, St. Andrew and Excelsior, to be held on Saturday 23rd July.

New York’s premier event, their 42nd Annual Dinner Dance & Awards Presentation, is locked-in for October 8th

In support of the renovation of the Dance Studio at Excelsior, the Florida chapter hosted an 80th Anniversary Dinner Dance on 16thJuly 2011.The event also honoured Mrs Myrtle Robertson-Cross and recognised special guests, including Mr Hugh Jones (Phys Ed teacher during the ‘70s) and Dr. Selbourne Goode (Mathematics teacher).

Florida’s traditional Annual Xmas Bash is set for 10th December. This, as usual, will be a great combination of fun and fellowship for alumni and friends of Excelsior.

The PSA in Jamaica, of course, will be hosting the 80th Anniversary Homecoming week, Nov. 20th – 26th.This promises to be an exciting and emotional week to include church services, sports days, fetes, a banquet – a week of commemoration not to be missed,


Get in touch, get active
Your association has ambitious aspirations for the impact it can have on Excelsior and on the well-being of alumni and their families here in the Greater Toronto Area. We can accomplish that with your help as well as the active support of business and professional firms in the area, such as the ones whose business cards you will have noticed in this report. (You would do well to reach out to these organisations to enquire how they can help you with your private needs).

We encourage you to contact any member of the Managing Committee with your suggestions, questions or comments or just to get connected.

Walk good …

Hurb Jackson Kumaasi



May 132011

ESAA Members

Greetings and welcome to your Association’s 2011 – 2012 campaign.

You can now pronounce the Toronto chapter successfully revived, thanks to the desire and efforts of a small but passionate group of alumni during the past two years. Even before the 2009-2011 “revival” period, our Association must acknowledge, with gratitude, the relentless efforts of founding members such as Charles Chambers, Louis Robinson and others who made the revival possible by ensuring that we maintained a pulse even during the dormant period.

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Looking forward with confidence
For the future, there is an exciting roster of initiatives envisioned to support both our alma mater as well as alumni in the GTA community. Through close collaboration with Excelsior alumni chapters in the U.S. and Jamaica, as well as our connection to the Alliance of Jamaican Alumni Associations (AJAA) we are confident of our ability to increasingly make a difference for the School and our membership. As Excelsior grads we are compelled to go “yet higher” – which is exactly what we have set out to do again this year. As always, your Managing Committee remains open and responsive to suggestions and feedback from members.

Managing Committee
The Annual General Meeting was held on April 17th 2011, where a new Executive team and Committee Chairs were elected to direct our Association for the next year.
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The Committee roles/responsibilities, as summarised below, have now been redefined to focus on our important priorities:

  • Fundraising
  • Membership
  • Community Outreach; and
  • Govt Relations/Special projects

This redefinition and clarification of roles is a meaningful achievement and was a key demand at the last AGM. However, as always, the success of these committees will depend on the energy and commitment of active members who volunteer their time/effort to make things happen.

Objectives & initiatives for coming year
Our schedule for the year kicks-off with our annual Summer Dance on Saturday June 25 (tickets currently on sale).

In addition to the fun-filled and engaging events from last year, we also include this year’s 80th anniversary festivities in Jamaica. Laff ‘n Nyam remains our key fundraising event for the year. More information on these events will follow in the coming weeks.

For this 2011 – 2012 year, our main objectives are shown on the last page of this message. But we must be plain: delivering these objectives depend completely on our ability to raise funds and attract volunteers – these are the focus areas for this year. Dues, donations and well-attended events will translate into benefits to our membership here as well as to our School in Jamaica.


Key events in the 2011 campaign

The 2011-2012 Managing Committee: Executive Officers

Position Officer Phone Email
President Hurb Kumaasi (647) 884-5305 kumaasi@yahoo.ca
Vice President Maxwell Wynter (000) 000-0000 maxwynter@rogers.com
Immediate Past President Louis Robinson (000) 000-0000 Robinsl06@gmail.com
Secretary June Blair (000) 000-0000 cblair@toronto.ca
Treasurer Norman Nelson (000) 000-0000 normannelson@rogers.com


The 2011-2012 Managing Committee: Committee Chairpersons

Position Chairperson Phone Email
Fundraising Committee Maxine Wright (000) 000-0000 xlcr73@hotmail.com
Membership Committee Enez Perkins (000) 000-0000 enezp@yahoo.ca
Community Outreach Dr. Edith Lorimer (000) 000-0000 emae.lorimer@gmail.com
Govt. Relations / Special Projects Louis Robinson (000) 000-0000 Robinsl06@gmail.com


80th Anniversary Celebration

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This year is the 80th anniversary of Mr. Powell’s founding of our Excelsior on his verandah. Our Association will join with the School and alumni worldwide to mark the occasion. The signature 80th Anniversary project is the renovation and renaming of the Auditorium. We will contribute to this project by donating net proceeds from our annual Summer Dance – which is just around the corner, on June 25th.[/suffusion-column]
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In Jamaica, the homecoming week, Nov. 20th – 26th, will be packed with festivities to celebrate the School reaching this milestone.
Anyone planning to fly to Jamaica to join in the celebrations should contact me since one of our alumni here is helping to arrange discounted tickets for flights.

Emerging Global Leaders Program (EGLP): A Success Story
York University’s website describes the EGLP as an “opportunity [for students] to explore key concepts and challenges of leadership in Canadian and international contexts, with a special focus on cross-cultural communication and team building.”The Toronto Chapter’s EGLP initiative has provided direct, immediate student benefit as well as School pride. Essentially, high school students from Canada and the English-speaking Caribbean compete for selection to participate in York University’s 3-day leadership programme, held in Canada and Barbados. Along with York and Scotiabank, your Association bears the cost of our student’s participation, including travel to/from Jamaica.Excelsior has had three consecutive selections – starting during our revival period. Moreover, students have been exemplary ambassadors for Excelsior (and Jamaica). Students return to Jamaica and initiate innovative programs of their own.Your financial support to the Toronto chapter will allow Excelsior’s continued participation in award-winning program.

Get in touch, get active
Your association has ambitious aspirations for the impact can have on the prospects for students at Excelsior and for well-being of alumni and their families here in the Greater Toronto Area. We encourage you to contact any member of the Managing Committee with your suggestions, questions or comments.

Next Quarterly Message: August 2011

Walk good …

Hurbert Kumaasi

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