January 19, 2017, marked the 86th anniversary of the founding of the Excelsior Education Center and, specifically, Excelsior High School. On this day in 1931, the founder, Doctor the Honorable Aston Wesley Powell started a school on his father's verandah in Campbell Town with five students. From this small beginning, EXED now serves over 5,000 students in four distinct schools.
The occasion was marked by a thanksgiving service conducted by the chaplain, Revened Dr Philip Robinson, under the theme 'The Tree in Full Bloom'. The lignum vitae tree, our national tree, known to Jamaicans as 'the tree of life', was used to symbolise the growth of the institution. These trees which provide shade and beauty to the high-school campus, existed before the school was built and were preserved during the building of the school. The school was compared to the tree in Jeremiah 17: 5-8, which was planted by the river, and grew strong and bore an abundance of fruits.
The founding ceremony began with floral tributes to Dr and Mrs. Powell, and baskets of flowers were placed by representatives from the various stakeholders of all the schools of EXED at the memorial monument on the campus.
The message was delivered by Reverend Dr Gordon Cowans, Excelsior High School alumnus and principal of Knox Community College. He exhorted the congregation to adopt the spirit of Caleb in the book of Numbers, Chapter 13, who, in the face of opposition from the majority, stood his ground and was rewarded by God with the blessing of going into the Promised Land. Dr Powell was compared to Caleb as a man of vision and conviction.
The service was enriched by cultural items presented by students from the four schools.
The event was attended by the chairman of the Board of Management, Professor the Honorable Barbara Bailey; chairman of the Committee of Management, High School, Miss Lilieth Deacon; chairman of the Committee of Management, Community College, Mrs Patricia Sinclair McCalla; principals and vice-principals from all the schools, as well as past students and retired teachers.
Front row (from left): Mrs Patricia Sinclair McCalla, chairman of the Community College Committee of Management; Prof the Hon Barbara Bailey, chairman, Board of Management of EXED; Mrs Cynthia Marchand, Miss Etta Whiteman, retired teachers, Mrs Kahiefa Johnson, principal of Excelsior Pre-Primary School. Second row: Rev Gordon Cowans; Mrs Althea Brown Robinson; Mrs Naomi Jacobs, VP, Community College; Mr Jordan Briscoe, student from the School of Nursing, Excelsior Community College; and Mrs Allison Peart, retired VP, high school. Partially hidden is Sgt Jermaine Sayers, Excelsior High School cadet.
A section of the congregation.
Chaplain of EXED Rev Dr Philip Robinson; vice-president of the high school, Mrs Coleen Walker; Mrs Miriam Taylor, coordinator, Community Outreach Unit, Excelsior Community College; and Miss Lilieth Deacon, chairman of the Committee of Management, Excelsior High School. Monologue performed by Reneil Clarke, vice-president of the Students' Union and UCCF (Community College). Prof the Hon Barbara Bailey, OJ, bringing greetings.