Charlemont High Celebrates Founder’s Day


Charlemont High School in St. Catherine, on Friday (April 2) held its first Founder’s Day celebration to commemorate the work and life of John Bernard Stephenson, founder of the school and former Member of Parliament for North West St. Catherine.
A lawyer by profession, John Stephenson, popularly called “Jack,” was instrumental in starting the school, which opened in September 1978 with 240 students. He was born on November 24, 1938, and died on March 30, 1982.
At a ceremony held on the school grounds, Custos Rotolorum of St. Catherine, Rev. Sophia Azan and Member of Parliament for North West St. Catherine, Robert Pickersgill unveiled a plaque in memory of Jack Stephenson and his dedication to the community.
Precious Ramsaran, who read a citation to the late Mr. Stephenson, described him as a “gentle, soft-spoken and polite person who had a cool temper.” She added, “He walked with kings, but never lost the common touch.”
Describing his achievements, during his tenure as Member of Parliament, Mrs. Ramsaran said that Mr. Stephenson was interested in the development of the area and established a dairy farm behind the Charlemont High School.
Additionally, she said, he had renovated and expanded the Linstead Market, constructed the Linstead Health Centre, built a food-processing factory on White House Road and had been instrumental in the construction of the White House and Charlemont Housing Development. She also said he conceptualised and built the Linstead By-Pass.
“We wish that he were here to appreciate our expressions of gratitude and to witness our achievements, to see students perform academically and achieve honours at university levels, to see them perform in speech, dance, drama and music at the National Festival,” she said.
Guest speaker, Rev. Azan said that Mr. Stephenson had fulfilled his purpose in life when he set himself a goal of gathering funds for the construction of a community high school and served as a Member of Parliament from a young age and later as a Minister of Government. She said that he had secured the support from Parliament in finding the land to build the school and obtained contributions from the community.
“When I look at the list of other self help accomplishments of this school that have followed from his example, and of the school’s numerous outstanding achievements, I can only say that no community has more of which to be proud,” Rev. Azan said.
In a brief tribute to the founder of Charlemont High, Minister Pickersgill said it was not how long one lived but what he or she “puts into life.” He noted that a “life was not to be measured by its duration but by its donation.”
He said that Jack Stephenson was “aware of Israel” and his vision was to establish a “Kibbutz” (a collective or cooperative farm) in Charlemont.

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