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The following article is a contribution from Charles Ramdatt, a son of Falmouth. Charles is the Deputy Director of Public Works – Transportation Engineer for the City of Orlando. He is a licensed Professional Engineer and a Certified Planner.

William Knibb Memorial High School

Well….I do love Cornwall College (my alma mater) and I am extremely involved in CC matters. But I will share the most enlightening thing for all Trelawny students who attended CC up to my time. The well-revered “Boards” that displayed a hundred years worth of academic and sporting excellence and achievements listed numerous sons of Trelawny. Many Rhodes Scholars and tops in cricket, track and field and football, hailed from Trelawny. So……many of us often comment that these would have been Knibb attendees if the investment in ‘Knibb School’ had been more timely.

patrice anderson fulbright scholarship
Contributed
Recipients of the Fullbright scholarship pose with Rebecca Molinoff (second left), acting public affairs officer at the United States Embassy. From left are Kersen Stephens, Patrice Anderson, Kadian Birch and Alecia Nepaul. – Photo via The Gleaner

Fulbright Scholar

We are thrilled for this new Fulbright Scholar from William Knibb (Patrice Anderson). But many, like me, wonder, how many Nettleford’s, McBeans, Bolts, McLeods, Fletchers, and on and on could come out of schools, like Knibb, if they had the opportunity to do so. I strongly believe that the future of our parish and our sugar cane belt lies in the offering of opportunities in education for all our children, and then tapping of the resulting developed professional minds. Who will care more for our parish than us, accompanied by the potentially developed minds of the parish’s children?

I am from Falmouth. The two places I love the most are Falmouth and Orlando; those are the two places where I have lived. During my formative years, I was a regular attendee of the Knibb Baptist Church, which was the foundation of the William Knibb Memorial High School. Many friends and relatives of mine have attended, that, our home town high school. Before the school came in to its own, the top male students from our area attended either Cornwall or Munro. While the boarding existed at CC, many students, including needy students, had the opportunity to attend CC. With the boarding gone, many who would have had that opportunity to board at CC are able to attend neither CC nor even Knibb.

william knibb memorial high

Now that Knibb has come into its own, I would suggest that parents carefully weigh the pros and cons of keeping their male children at Knibb instead of sending them to Cornwall and Munro.

Assistance

For many years, many of my friends and I, who did not attend Knibb, have attempted to assist Knibb’s past student association. Things came to a head and some of Knibb’s past students impolitely told us to let them be. That small vocal minority was strident enough to get us to desist. However, during recent months, and especially within the past week, several Cornwall past students, who grew up in Trelawny, have been having discussions re helping the area’s schools, especially the primary schools and the two Falmouth area high schools.

It has been suggested that some of us even consider teaching sixth form classes there for a 5 to 10 year period. It has been further suggested that some of us could teach at a Falmouth area Community College, at Muschett, at Cedric Titus, at Knibb, at Holland at Westwood and at UTech.

william-knibb-students

Greater Falmouth Development

As an Urban Planner and Civil Engineer, and having been privy to past UDC discussions re the future of Falmouth, I see Greater Falmouth in 20 years being a much different place and becoming a small City. In 40 years, Greater Montego Bay will extend to Duncans and to Lucea. Falmouth will be the anchor of the east side of the metropolitan area and Lucea will be the west. ‘Knibb school’ can be the flagship high school for the area.

Usain Bolt - William Knibb's most famous alumni.
Usain Bolt, William Knibb’s most famous alumni – Photo: Daily Mail

Sustainable Development

It baffles me, and many others who do not speak publicly, that the Chamber and the Parish Council are not actively reaching out to architects, engineers, planners and other experienced professionals, who hail from Trelawny, to get guidance and advice about urban growth and related services. I addressed this, comprehensively, at the recent Diaspora conference. I laid out the framework for doing this all across Jamaica. This is not based on political motivation.

Sadly, I only saw Patrick A Beckford and Sharon Earle as the Falmouth reps there. Folks from other parts of Jamaica embraced my presentation. I would love to repeat it for the Council and for the local Chamber.

Thie future of our area must be planned properly and should be driven by locals, especially the Chamber of Commerce. We must be mature enough to work across the lines of politics and other groupings. Locals still argue and act with suspicion instead of in real collaboration. While we remain divided and unfocused, outsiders decide the future of our parish. The direction must go from the locals to the people in Kingston and not vice versa.

We will eclipse Ocho Rios by far. But the real question is whether it will occur properly and sustainably or whether there will be talk and scribbles on paper and no proper urban structure and complimentary development of our local social and educational offerings.

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