WASHINGTON — Sixteen students of the Merl Grove High School in Kingston, Jamaica are the beneficiaries of bursaries valued at US$4,800 from the North Eastern American Chapter of the school's Past Students' Association.
The awards are under the Shakara Harris Scholarship Fund, named for the student who was killed in 2004, when she was hit by a car while attempting to cross the busy road in front of the school.
Making the announcement at the Association’s sixth anniversary gala held on July 1 at the Holiday Inn in Gaithersburg, Maryland, President, Andrea McDonald-Black, said that each student will receive US$300 to help with school expenses including uniform, books, bus fare, and lunch.
She informed that since the group’s inception in 2005, 84 scholarships valued at US$25,200 have been awarded to needy students. To qualify for the grant, students must demonstrate financial need, academic excellence and be involved in community service. They are required to maintain at least a C average to continue to benefit and provide the Association with yearly academic reports.
Ms. McDonald-Black said that currently, a number of bursary recipients have graduated from Merl Grove and are now successfully enrolled in University of the West Indies (UWI) and have started their march to their own success.
“These are students, who never gave up even when the odds were against them. For this reason, we are more committed to continuing (to raise funds) to help many more students to get on and stay on the road to a better Jamaica. Our goal is to help four children at a time,” she stated.
In her message, Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey Marks, applauded the association for its generosity.
“Even though you have left your alma mater and in many cases, a long time ago, you have never forgotten to give back. It goes without saying that it is the work of groups like your association that has gone a long way in keeping many schools up and running as efficiently as possible,” she stated.
The Ambassador encouraged the alumni group to continue their outstanding efforts to help their school and by extension, education in Jamaica. “There is no doubt that these grants will go a long way to assist the recipients in meeting their educational goals,” she said.
Past student and former Minister of Tourism, Aloun Assamba, was the master of ceremonies for the evening. Jamaican writer and storyteller, Joan Andrea Hutchinson provided entertainment, regaling the audience with amusing local stories and proverbs.
Also in attendance were President of the Canadian Chapter of the Merl Grove High School Past Students’ Association, Claudette Cameron-Stewart, as well as scores of past students from Canada, Jamaica, and the United States.
By DERRICK SCOTT, JIS Reporter