Calabar Old Boys' Association (COBA) President David Miller (left) greeted former Prime Minister of Jamaica PJ Patterson (right) on his arrival, as Michael Fennell looked on. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)
It was soul-stirring, really, the way the Calabar Old Boys burst through the doors of the Jamaica Pegasus hotel eager to celebrate the school's accomplishments with a group of friends and supporters. Even more fascinating was the fervour of their family members who matched, and at times topped, the men's school pride, as many wives stood in solidarity with their husbands singing the words of the school song Like An Ancient River Flowing, line by line. But that was at the end of the evening.
The Calabar Old Boys' Association's Annual Dinner & Awards began with cocktail hour held steps away from the hotel's Jamaica Grand Suite. Upon entering the space, guests were greeted with 'COBA' mocktails and waves and hugs from old schoolmates, as well as members of the school's current executive and guests.
The room was filled with professionals from, among others, the banking, manufacturing, health, and art industries, all excited to see each other and to partake in the evening's festivities.
The dinner and awards started promptly at 7:30 pm, with the National Anthem. Calabar Old Boys' Association (COBA) President David Miller in his opening remarks said it was important to reflect on what Calabar was like in his time, but also to look to the future. He said the goal was to "transform the present day Calabar boys into young men capable of contributing positively and notably to our society... Our old boys answered the call when we were cubs in need, and it is our duty to answer the call and support our school and the present cubs. The theme for the evening is: 'Come What Will, We Will Answer, We Are Here' on which keynote speaker Reverend Dr Howard Gregory will speak".
Guests would have to wait for Gregory's address, however, as the wait staff had begun placing the first course. The four-course meal: Cream of Pumpkin soup with Jerk Chicken Spinners, Organic Greens drizzled with June Plum Beetroot Vinaigrette, Herb Crusted Jerk Lamb Chop served with Grilled Red Snapper, and Passionfruit Cheesecake got rave reviews from guests.
Reverend Dr Howard Gregory entered Calabar High School as a scholarship winner from Cockburn Pen Primary School. His spiritual life began while he was a student, and he was appointed as a representative to the synod before the church had youth representatives. His tertiary education included studies at the United Theological College and The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona. He has served as UWI chaplain, and taught at several high schools. Gregory is now Archbishop of the West Indies, Primate and Metropolitan and Bishop of Jamaica & the Cayman Islands. In his address Gregory brought into focus the meaning of the school song. "I shall propose that while schooling at its best is intended to provide for literate, numerate, technologically conservent, and critical thinkers for today's workforce, this does not make for a rounded human being and citizen. Character formation, from a Christian perspective, touches at the heart of what it means to be human," said Gregory. "In looking at the Calabar experience we need to note its contribution to character formation of its students is not just a short-term or one-semester course, but extends over the years one spends in the institution, subliminally absorbed at times, but overtly engaged at others, whether in Chapel, the classroom, on the corridors, or the playfield, and which I venture to suggest is manifest in this gathering. It is therefore in light of this experience we can indeed sing with gusto:
So today and, oh, if ever
Duty's voice is ringing clear
Bidding men to brave endeavour
We will answer, "We are here!"
Come what will, good or ill,
We will answer, "We are here!"
Reverend Dr Howard Gregory had the full attention of the audience during his address. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)
Archbishop of the West Indies, Primate and Metropolitan and Bishop of Jamaica &amp; the Cayman Islands Reverend Dr Howard Gregory delivered the keynote speech. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)
At age 98, Reverend William Edwards is the oldest Calabar Old Boy alive. Edwards, who's from the graduating class of 1942, toasted the occasion with his wife Fern. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)
Calabar Old Boy (Class of '67) Alwyn Smith shared words of wisdom with (from left) Calabar High School Head Boy Matthew Aiken, Executive Prefect Tireeq Sutherland, Daniel Fraser, and Ashanny Powell. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)
Ambassador of Cuba to Jamaica Fermin Quiñones shared a moment with Peggy Fennell. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)
Calabar High School Head Boy Matthew Aiken was happy to see Grade 11 Coordinator and Quiz Mother Sharon Waite (left) and Grade 12 Coordinator Karen Young. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)
Archbishop of the West Indies, Primate and Metropolitan and Bishop of Jamaica &amp; the Cayman Islands Reverend Dr Howard Gregory (left) accepted his citation from Michael Roofe. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)
Honoree Carl Domville delivered an acceptance speech on behalf of Reverend Dr Howard Gregory and himself. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)
Calabar Board of Management Chairman Karl B Johnson (right) presented former Prime Minister of Jamaica PJ Patterson with the Special Recognition Award. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)
Members of the Calabar track &amp; field management team, Lorraine McKenzie (left) and Sophia Smith, accepted the Special Recognition Award on behalf of former Head Coach Michael Anthony Clarke. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)
From left: Lance Corporals Joseph T, Cooper G, Kelly R; Corporal Style J; Sergeant Lawrence O and Staff Sergeant Brackett A were on hand to assist with the formalities. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)