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SEEN UP NORTH: Combermere global reunion

Tony Best

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Lives are in the making here,
Hearts are in the waking here
Mighty undertaking here.
The first few words in the Combermere School song speak volumes about the educational institution at Waterford and how its past and current students view themselves and their alma mater.
For whether it is in scholarship, literature, cricket or music, not to mention government, science, business or public safety, Combermerians are quick to insist “some of my best days were spent at our school”.
That reflection has come, for instance, from Sir Wesley Hall, Rawle Brancker, George Lamming, history professor Dr Keith Sandiford in Canada, late Prime Minister David Thompson and the tens of thousands of Barbadians whose lives were fashioned, in part by the school.
“I would say so too,” asserted Ian Watson, a vice-president of a major international bank in New York and president of the Combermere Alumni USA, one of the oldest organizations of Caribbean immigrants in the city. “Yes, some of my best days were spent at Combermere, no doubt about that.”
So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if that assertion is heard regularly towards the end of the month when the alumni holds its first global reunion in the city.
At least 200 current and former Combermerians in Barbados, Britain, Canada, the Caribbean and elsewhere plan to link arms with the alumni from across the United States during a week of activities, beginning with a church service on Sunday, August 26, at St Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Brooklyn where Rev. Eddie Alleyne, a Bajan, serves as rector.
“We decided to reach out to the Combermerians all over the globe, inviting them to the city, a place that attracts Barbadians from all walks of life, even those from London or Toronto, for instance, after they have left Barbados,” said Watson. “We want them to enjoy this dream of coming together, of sharing their memories and experiences and of thinking of future students.”
During the week, students of the school who are coming on the trip are to tour Columbia University, an Ivy League school in Manhattan, and Brooklyn Technical High School, which is considered one of leading academic institutions for the youth in New York. Brooklyn Tech, has a long record of producing highly motivated students who often go on to top professional positions.
That tour is scheduled for August 27 and the next day many of the visitors are to go to Atlantic City. On August 29, the Waterford Music Society, TC, Arturo Tappin, Biggie Irie and other prominent Barbadian entertainers who will be in town for the West Indian Labour Day carnival celebrations are to appear at a concert at Boys’ & Girls’ High School at 1700 Fulton Street in Brooklyn beginning at 7 p.m.
The programme switches gears on August 30 with a panel discussion on The Role Of Religion In Student Development And In The Preparation Of Our Youth For The 21st Century. On Friday, August 31, more than 300 people are to attend an awards gala at Grand Prospect Hall, also in Brooklyn. Sir Wesley, one of the most erudite and entertaining after-dinner speakers in the Caribbean, is to be the keynote speaker.
The day before the visitors return to their respective countries on September 2, they are to participate in a family day at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. It will be an occasion to engage in sports and enjoy at a Saturday afternoon barbecue.
“The programme and activities are not simply for Combermerians. They are for everybody, for the Barbadian and Caribbean diaspora,” said Euclid Mahon, chairman of the committee planning the reunion.
“We want them to join with us and to enjoy themselves. It’s going to be a week for everyone, not just those who are attending or have attended the school. That’s very important.”