WASHINGTON D.C — The 22nd staging of the annual “School Night” took on a decidedly Jamaican flavour Friday (May 6), with Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States (US), Her Excellency Audrey P. Marks, chairing the annual fundraiser which supports the education of economically challenged children in the US capital.
Ambassador Marks was among the more than 500 patrons on hand for the event at the Ronald Reagan Building.
With support from corporate sponsors and foundations, a silent auction which included gifts from the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), Palmyra Resort, the Jamaica Inn Resorts and a US$350 price tag, “School Night” brought in more than US$700,000.
Ziggy Marley, son of the late reggae icon Bob Marley, served up a delightful fare of non-stop Jamaican reggae music for more than one hour. His offering included some of his own music as well as his late father’s.
“We asked Ambassador Marks to chair the event, because of her public commitment to being involved in the Washington community during her tenure as Ambassador, as well as her work to improve education in Jamaica, as a business woman,” said philanthropist and Fight For Children founder, Joseph E. Robert, Jr.
He said that “Fight for Children” was honoured to collaborate with Ambassador Marks to make “School Night” 2011 a great success.
“Her thoughtful contributions to not only the event itself, but also to our work in improving urban education, were invaluable. We look forward to continuing this rewarding relationship,” he said.
Mr. Robert explained that because there are many similarities in the challenges facing urban education systems in both countries, “there are opportunities to learn from each other and share best practices”.
“We look forward to continuing our collaboration with the Ambassador and the people of Jamaica,” he said.
Ambassador Marks said the event was not only invaluable and great fun, but was also worth exploring, as a model for similar initiatives to boost education for the less fortunate children in Jamaica.
“I was pleased that we at the Embassy of Jamaica and the JTB could be involved to support the initiative of Brand Jamaica to this wide cross-section of Washingtonians,” she said.
The spring benefit event boasted a Jamaican theme, complete with a matching buffet, cocktail menu and party favours, and was hosted by FOX5’s television Morning News anchor, Steve Chenevey, with the DC Pan Jammers and New Century Dancers performing as well.
This year’s “School Night” celebrated schools that won the “Fight for Children’s 2011 Quality Schools Initiative Award.”
Among the guests present were former Washington D.C. Mayor, Adrian Fenty, and Mrs. Fenty; D.C.’s Public Schools Chancellor, Kaya Henderson; President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Luis Alberto Moreno and President and CEO of the Bank of Nova Scotia (Jamaica), Bruce Bowen and his wife Suzan.
It was supported by corporate sponsors and foundations; Jamaica Tourist Board sponsored a silent auction.
In its fourth year, “Fight for Children’s Quality Schools Initiative” identifies and celebrates effective practises that improve student achievements in Washington D.C.’s public schools, public charter schools and independent schools.
The awards this year recognized schools that use data to improve instructions to increase academic achievement for children from low-income homes.
By DERRICK A. SCOTT, JIS INFORMATION ATTACHE